Making hard times easier
Louise Bolger | Sun
Dana Kamp manages the Hard Times Trading
Post in Cortez, where treasures can be found.
Are you one of those people who can’t walk by an antique shop without going in or have to fight off the temptation to stop when driving by garage sales? If you are then get ready for the ultimate treasure hunt experience of your life.
Brad Smith opened Hard Times Trading Post a little over a year ago on Cortez Road West adjacent to Cortez Village. The best way to describe Hard Times comes from an old pirate word “salmagundi,” literally meaning a stew made with whatever was left over, but whose meaning has also evolved into a simple assortment or mixture of things, a potpourri. Hard Times certainly lives up to that description and then some.
Smith, who is also the owner of Bridge Street Jewelers in Bradenton Beach, had a strong background in the flea market business, and he and his girlfriend Kassy Quinn love the thrill of the hunt. Weekly they buy abandoned storage units throughout the state in search of the holy grail of storage units, a really valuable item.
Although they do on occasion find expensive watches, diamonds and coin collections, 75 percent goes in the dumpster and 25 percent goes on the shelves at Hard Times Trading Post. And what’s on those shelves in little Cortez could provide furniture for homes, games for the kids and costumes for Halloween just for starters.
Hard Times has a nice collection of furniture, some in good condition, some crying out to be transformed and placed in a great little beach cottage. They have mirrors, clothes, trunks, books, military uniforms, ribbons and patches, lamps, complete sets of dishes and individual pieces, tools, guitars, frames and one of my favorites, an antique adding machine.
It also has a nice assortment of estate and vintage jewelry including pocket watches and quite a few pocket knives. As you slowly walk through the narrow aisles, a never ending supply of new items keeps popping up. There is also an outdoor yard with even more to spark the imagination.
Brad Smith decided to name his shop Hard Times acknowledging the hard times people are going through these days and hopefully reaching out to the community and providing a needed service. Keeping that in mind, he says everything is priced to sell. The shop is the melting pot of Cortez with locals looking for a bargain, rental unit owners looking for unusual items and tourists just looking.
Dana Kamp, who is the store manager, says they sometimes get 50 people a day stopping by, many coming in every day to check for new merchandise. “We sell everything but the kitchen sink,” says Kamp, “except we sold that yesterday.”
Even if you’re not having a hard time, Hard Times Trading Post is a lot of fun, a true salmagundi of just about anything you can think of, including, on some days, a kitchen sink.
HARD TIMES TRADING POST
12208 Cortez Road W.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.