Years later, Bremer has collected quite a bit of it. Colorful posters, polished plates and shelves of memorabilia like lunch boxes and buttons line the walls of When I'm Sixty-Four, Bremer's downtown Eau Claire music memorabilia store.When I'm Sixty Four, named for The Beatles song released in 1967, holds all of Bremer's collection and, he estimates, about 5 percent of the collection of Arizona native Bob Liepziger that he's purchased. The store is as attractive as the memorabilia, with brightly painted walls, a stage for live music and even a Beatles slot machine. The store opened at the beginning of June, and Bremer has a more inspired goal than that of making money.
"My biggest hope is to unite the whole downtown," he said.
Bremer said that a business can only survive with the support of the surrounding community. So he plans to collaborate with downtown businesses rather than compete.
Billy Siegel, who owns Revival Records, 418 South Barstow St., has seen a number of new businesses come into the downtown area and thinks the growth is fantastic. He's especially excited about those who are doing something that they love to do.
"I'm proud of Eli for taking the initiative to open the store," he said.
With the opening of When I'm Sixty-Four, Siegel said it brings like-minded clientele downtown who may also be interested in Revival Records.
"It's something we can actually help each other out (with) and expand the downtown area," he said.
Bremer also takes the time to recommend downtown stores to customers and visitors at When I'm Sixty-Four who are looking for anything from coffee to chocolate. One of those stores he recommends is Retro Distortion, 207 Graham Ave. The store features a different time period than Bremer does and focuses more on pop culture such as movies. Retro Distortion opened in December 2011.
Mark McElwain, who helps out at Retro Distortion, said when he's gotten materials that are Beatles-esqe, he hands them off to Bremer, who in turn has traded materials that are more appropriate for Retro Distortion.
"He's a beautiful heart and a beautiful soul," McElwain said of Bremer.
Bremer said feedback about When I'm Sixty Four thus far has been "amazing." Sometimes, he sees older clientele who are excited to share their stories with him while looking at memorabilia.
"A lot of them go, 'I remember having this,' " he said, noting that he enjoys the interaction.
So far, items sold range from an authentic John Lennon and Yoko Ono poster from 1971 that reads "War is Over" to unused ticket stubs for the 1964 motion picture "A Hard Day's Night."
There are no prices on the items in an effort to keep everything at museum quality; when a potential buyer is interested, Bremer tells the person about what the online price is for the item, its worth and what he's selling it for.
But the store is more than just collectibles. A stage lies near the back of the store, and Bremer hopes to bring music in during all days of the week. While there's no set schedule yet, he encourages local musicians to stop by the store to set up performances.
"We want to get them in here," he said. "We want people to start seeing them if they want to be seen."
Bremer, who used to be the tour manager for Minnesota band Down Lo, leases the whole building and hopes to expand to show the city what could be offered.
"The store is ... always evolving," he said.
Schossow can be reached at 715-830-5832, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff photos by Shane Opatz