Treasures Down Under

Published 3:42 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

It’s not a going-out-of-business sale, but a moving sale, at Tim and Sandy Swenor’s Treasures Down Under, which they live above.
Tim’s from Petoskey, Sandy from the Coloma-Watervliet area.
A window and door store brought them here in 2002 and his metal detecting hobby since 1970 sustained them.
Now they are shedding the bricks-and-mortar aspect of their business at 104 S. Broadway for a larger online profile at, liquidating their household in a former Vigilant newspaper office and The Inkwell, relocating to Florida for the hurricanes and calling a recreational vehicle home.

Tim Swenor

“We went from a small detector shop to being the largest in Michigan and Indiana,” Tim said Tuesday. “We lost all of our window and door contractors when the economy tanked, so what do you do? We cranked up the metal detector shop, then we got into prospecting equipment, too,” such as gold-panning gear.
“That opened a whole another thing,” Swenor said, “and we were doing shows all over the place.” Hence, living in a fifth-wheel RV.
“With gold prices being where they are, it’s awesome. I did not realize this, but I was told a month ago we are one of only seven full-time dealers in the United States for prospecting and metal detecting. We have a huge Web store, so we’re taking it to a different level.”
Swenor has become a certified diver. In fact, July 31 in Birch Lake he located a ring missing for three years. “Everybody and their brother looked for it, but nobody found it,” he said. “A lot of it is knowing how to use the equipment.”
In Florida, “After hurricanes, I want to find people’s small belongings which flow out into the yard — rings, jewelry and money — and give them back to them. Search and recovery we’re getting into.”
Swenor, looking at an 11-11-11 birthday Friday, needs his whole body instead of a Michigan mitten. He grew up in the fingertip, lived by the wrist and needs to wiggle his toes to approximate the distance from Michigan to Key Largo.
They hope to wrap up their three-floor sale, including tools from their construction business — one buyer took the entire basement rock shop — and pack up their business by the end of November. They are not new to snowbird status.
“Cold bothers my back because I broke it years ago,” he said. “We fell in love with the building because we could turn the upstairs into living quarters and never be late for work.”
Tim shows us around the high-ceilinged, fan-festooned elegant building, from pulleys remaining from the Vigilant press to a gated stairway that spotlights Sandy’s interior designer talent.
She opened up the “dungeon” kitchen with an interior window and fitted one room overlooking the 1899 courthouse with ballet rails and mirrors for dance.