When did the business open?
Mary: “We got married in 1996 and opened in 1997.”
What inspired you start the business?
Skip: “I had another business that was called Coast Trader, near 153rd and 103rd.”
Mary: “Skip was county commissioner at the time. We had a plan if he was re-elected or wasn’t.”
Skip: “I wasn’t.”
Mary: “He had a house on the bay and I had one on the beach. My father was an auctioneer, so I was kind-of raised in the business. Our plan was to sell both of our places and build this one. So we built the building and we’ve been here for 22 years. It’s just been the two of us buying and selling, we’ve never had any employees. We live in the building too. We have 2,000 square feet of retail, 2,000 square feet of living area and 2,000 square feet of workshop.”
Since you’ve opened in 1997, how has the business changed or evolved?
Skip: “The internet has caused us to evolve.”
What impact has the internet had?
Skip: “It’s been terrible. It’s cut our business completely. The problem here has been Facebook and Craiglist, the online markets. They really hurt. So we have to do the same thing and put things online.”
Mary: “We’re not really as enthusiastic about that as we could be.”
What impact did the 2008 recession have on the business?
Skip: “See these clocks up here (points to clocks on the wall). They dropped 60% in value in two years.”
Mary: “Our business dropped off dramatically, probably 50%.”
Skip: “We thought the antique malls on the Peninsula were going to hurt us bad, but they didn’t hurt at all because it evolved into retired and semi-retired people buying little things here and there and putting it in a 10x10 space, hoping to get their rent money back.”
What do you consider the biggest competition?
Mary: “The internet.”
Skip: “The internet would be it.”
How much do you sell in a typical day?
Skip: “Well today I sold one map, four ($25) chairs and one dresser. About $300 total, which is a decent day.”
What are some things that were once popular before but no longer?
Skip: “There’s been a big change in the style. There used to be various colors of furniture, lots of oak and round oval tables. Now everything is square or rectangular with sharp corners and dark. Now everything is mid-century modern, which was junk 10 years ago. The old dressers that had legs four or five inches long, that was all junk too, but now everybody wants it.”
Mary: “People are really into the upcycled stuff. Mid-century stuff has become much more popular.”
What accounts for most of your inventory?
Skip: “Chairs and furniture is at least half. We have a lot of tools, mattresses and box-spring beds.”
What’s the most valuable item in the store?
Skip: “A ($1,000) stainless steel display case. It came out of an old garage.”
As a buyer, what’s something you’re always looking for?
Skip: “Dressers are the biggest things. I used to think it was queen headboards. The thing we sell the most of are small tables, so we have a lot of those.”
What are some of your earliest memories of the Peninsula?
Skip: “My first relatives came to Willapa Bay around 1832. They came here to cut trees and truck them to San Francisco for pilings. They stayed here permanently around 1873, when my grandfather came to Naselle. I was born in 1934 in the Seaview Hospital.”
What’s a memory from your childhood that resonates with you?
Mary: “When Skip was 5 he had a pet seal.”
Skip: “Her name was ‘Minga’.”
How did you acquire a seal?
Skip: “We were out on the beach clamming. We were coming back off the beach and we noticed a seal was dead in the surf with a little one right alongside her. She was only about six or eight inches long. We brought her home and nursed her with a bottle and named her ‘Minga’. We had her for three years. We would swim at Drunk Skunk Hollow, one of the outlet streams from Black Lake. At that time there was no road north of Long Beach to Ocean Park, Sandridge was the main road and it was gravel. It was hard on ‘Minga’ trying to wiggle through that gravel so we had a little red wagon we towed her in. The dogs hated it — they were really jealous. When we got down to the hollow and went swimming we could grab ‘Minga’ by the back flipper and she would pull us through the water.”
What did you feed her?
Skip: “We fed her table scraps. That’s what caused the problem, because her skin started getting bad. We took her over to the aquarium in Seaside. The guy there said she needed more fish. We were poor and didn’t have any money, so we gave her to him.”
What part of your business do you enjoy the most?
Skip: “What I’m doing right now, talking to people.”