High Desert Treasure Hunters sells unique merchandise selected from multiple yard sales

by: RON HALVORSON/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - High Desert Treasure Hunters Trudy and Rocky Smith

Your coffeemaker just went on the fritz and you need a new one — fast.
   The trouble is, money’s a little tight this month, and so you load the kids into the car and head for the nearest thrift store. You’re pleased when you find they have a number of coffeemakers for sale. That one would work. Oh, the handle is cracked. What about that one? It’s pretty grungy. “Does that one with the timer work?” you ask the salesperson. She doesn’t know.
   If you find yourself in such a situation, Trudy Smith wants to help. Smith and her husband, Rocky, have recently opened High Desert Treasure Hunters, a new and used store with a bit of a twist.
   “If you go to thrift stores,” Smith said, “it’s hard to find the nice things. I’ve felt that people are selling (the nice things) at yard sales instead of donating them (to thrift stores), and so I go out and find those nice things and bring them in here.”
   Smith said she scours yard and estate sales to find such things as pots and pans that aren’t burned up, coffee pots that aren’t stained or broken, and Tupperware.
   “I do try to collect a lot of Tupperware that’s not yellow and sticky, and the lids still work,” she said. “We’ve run across closeouts of some merchandise at stores and we buy it and then we’ll bring it, so the Prineville people can benefit from the closeout price also.”
   Although Smith said she does want to focus on things people use every day, the store has more than kitchen items for sale, from furniture and home electronics in one corner, to fishing gear and other sports equipment in another. With even a few new, still-packaged garden chemicals for sale, some might call her store eclectic.
   “The first week we were open,” she said, “I had one of those great big coffee pots, and the lady had looked in every thrift store for one. They walked in here and found two things that they had been looking for. That’s kind of what I would like to have — the hard-to-find things that you can’t find.”
   Smith emphasized that she will not purchase or take donations from people who come into the store. All her merchandise is either hand-selected by her, or by her legion of “buyers.”
   “We have people in Portland. I have family support. They’re shopping for me also, and I have friends in Bend and Redmond that are retired. They love to go to yard sales and now they have a purpose — to buy stuff,” she explained.
   If someone is looking for a specific item, Smith encourages them to let her know, and she, or her minions, will do some custom shopping.
   “We have a list that we write down what they’re looking for,” she explained, “and then we call them if we find that item, and let them know that it’s here.”
   Smith said she’s worked in retail ever since high school, off and on for about 28 years. For the last five years, she worked at a big box store doing trees and shrubs, and most recently, was self-employed doing inspections for banks. She knows that having her own business means long hours, but she said she enjoys the work — not only finding the merchandise, but washing and cleaning it to make sure it’s in like-new condition for the customer.
   “This is mostly her gig,” said Rocky. “Something that she’s always wanted to do. I just come down here and hang out, and help her out, and what-not.”
   When he’s not “hanging out,” Rocky works as a general contractor, mostly out of town. Still, he finds time to shop for his wife.
   “I’ve always got a list she sends me with,” he said.
   Smith said several have asked her why she chose to open her new store in Prineville, since she and her husband presently live in Redmond (although they are in the process of moving here).
   “I’ve been asked that,” she said. “Why not? I know the economy’s bad here, but why not?”
   High Desert Treasure Hunters LLC
   Address: 949 N. Madras Highway (across from The Outpost).
   Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   For more information, give Trudy a call at 541-306-9984
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