Fishing for treasures? Homeric Traders baits the hook

• New biz hosts open house on May 24
By Christina Whiting
Homer Tribune

HOMER TRIBUNE/Christina Whiting Homeric Traders owners Nickie Knight and Ken Sprague.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Christina Whiting
Homeric Traders owners Nickie Knight and Ken Sprague.

Imagine the television shows “Storage Wars” meets “American Pickers” meets “Pawn Stars” meets “Alaska Frontier” — and you might just get an idea of what Homeric (pronounced Home Eric) Traders is all about.
Owners Ken Sprague and Nickie Knight market their small business as buying, selling and trading the “Alaska way.”
Twice a month, Sprague makes the journey to Anchorage, where he attends estate auctions, online auctions, storage unit auctions and government liquidations, bidding on the entire contents of rooms and storage units.
“We can’t pick and choose the items we want, we have to take the entire estate sale,” Sprague said.
The couple bids on things that catch their interest — and that they know is of some value. And they say they wind up donating or discarding 80-90 percent of what they buy — keeping only quality items to bring to Homer to sell.
Sometimes they end up with boxes of old tax returns, but sometimes, they find treasures. Once, the couple came upon a letter from a Fairbanks mining company postmarked 1911. Another time, they discovered a prosthetic hand with a string mechanism that opened and closed the fingers.
“The hand was sitting on top of a box in the back of a 40-foot Connex,” Knight said. “Ken knew immediately what it was and was so excited.”
Displayed in their front case, the hand drew lots of comments from customers until sold to a local couple.
Sprague and Knight say they love the thrill of the hunt for quality items. Knight is fond of beautiful hardwood furniture, antiques and trunks, while Sprague gets excited about finding outdoor gear, fishing gear and unique items.
This past year, they rented a 3,000-square-foot warehouse on Ocean Drive — across the street from the Farmers Market — and set up shop. The store is spacious and open, housing everything from records, furniture and outdoor gear, to artwork, old coins, vintage items and more.
“It’s like a garage sale in here all the time,” Knight said.
Besides having fun, Knight and Sprague said their goal is to buy, sell and trade quality items that are hard to come by in Homer.
They will buy, trade and offer store credit on quality hardwood furniture, outdoor gear, vintage pieces, antiques and more. Last week, someone brought in a driftwood-carved whale. Last year, they purchased an 1897 knife polisher.
“One of the coolest things someone brought in was a Kachemak Gear Shed sign,” Sprague said.
The fastest items to go out the door were a Coleman stove and a vintage typewriter, and their biggest sellers are records. The couple prices what they sell based on eBay prices.
Nickie Knight was born and raised Michigan, spent time in the Navy, and was a music major turned business major. She earned a degree in human resource management, and worked in property management all over the U.S. When the economy crashed, she turned to bartending to make a living.
In 2011, Knight bought and rebuilt an RV, which she drove from Florida to Alaska. In Homer, she worked days at AJ’s Steakhouse and nights at Alice’s Champagne Palace, living in her RV behind Alice’s.
Sprague was born in Indiana, served in the Navy for four years and got his degree in urban studies and historic preservation.
“I’ve always enjoyed the historical concepts of preserving what’s happened in the past,” he said.
In 2010, Sprague came to Alaska on vacation. The couple met when Sprague wandered into Alice’s looking for a friend of his, but found Knight instead.
Calling Homer home, Sprague has worked as a skills trainer with The Center and for NOAA, as the Biological Scientific Technician in the remote field station of Little Port Walter on the eastern side of the Baranof Islands.
He has been buying and selling items since he was in elementary school.
“I sold candy bars and baseball cards on the school bus and bought my own school clothes,” he said.
For the past 17 years, he has been buying and selling online as a hobby.
“One time when we were in Florida, Ken’s car was full of ugly Christmas sweaters,” Knight said. “He bought them at a thrift store to sell online.”
While Knight was bartending, Sprague made a modest income selling the ugly sweaters on eBay.
With a mutual love for thrift stores and garages sales, the couple attended their first Homer estate auction together over a year ago.
“We bought so much stuff, we had to get a storage unit,” Knight said.
They advertised items on Facebook, Craigslist and by word of mouth, and soon discovered a market and a niche. Homeric Traders was born.
Sprague and Knight put out “new used” items every day, and are delighted that the community of Homer has welcomed their efforts toward upcycling. They already have a long list of returning customers.
Stop by and meet Ken and Nickie and browse the shelves during their grand opening on May 24.
Homeric Traders is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 599-8723, email or visit their Facebook page.

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Posted by on May 14th, 2014 and filed under Feature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Fishing for treasures? Homeric Traders baits the hook”

  1. Nickie says:

    Hey there everyone! Just wanted to provide a link to check out all the new stuff we are bringing into the shop!

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