By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Finders Keepers has long been a retail staple in Newkirk’s Main Street district, offering a glimpse into years past with a wide array of antiques and collectibles. That facility is now moving forward and looking into the future as Will and Shannon Cooper rechristen to store as Newkirk Mercantile, and bringing new flavors in the process.
The Coopers took possession of the facility following the retirement of Mario and Shirley Venegas.
Late Monday morning, Jan. 10 the Coopers are standing behind the counter of Newkirk Mercantile, in a noticeably different, even airy, entrance. They have spent much time renovating and reorganizing the office.
“The layout and the front are much more open. It’s more maneuverable,” Shannon said. “We’re constantly finding new treasures that were hidden.”
The Coopers arrived in Newkirk about a year ago with their son, Chance, moving to Oklahoma to be closer to Shannon’s sister in Ponca City. Raised in small towns around Snohomish County, in northern Washington State, they were both attracted to antiques from a young age.
“I used to walk the railroad tracks with my uncle, and dig up trash piles from the workers building the railroad, and find antiques,” Will said.
That love has continued into adulthood, as they have been across the country in different functions.
“We’ve been doing antiques and auctions for years, and traveled the (lower) 48 states, doing shows,” Will said.
A shop, and chance to settle in a small town, had long been on their minds, and that coincided with the Venegas’ retirement.
“We had always wanted a store, and we finally got one,” Will said. “We bought the building, and everything in it.”
The Coopers held their opening Wednesday, Jan. 5, welcoming local supporters, a welcome they quickly saw in return.
“We have a lot of support from the community,” Shannon said.
For the Coopers, a store like Newkirk Mercantile is special for the nostalgia of the merchandise.
“It is not like it used to be – the quality, the history,” Shannon said.
The Coopers are keeping the antique store style, including all consignment dealers. They simultaneously are taking the store in a new, or more traditional direction, bringing in a real mercantile vibe, a walk into an historic small town general store like the many stores that once graced downtown Newkirk. That includes traditional hard candy and other offerings .
“We’re going to offer all types of merchandise. We’re keeping the antiques, but also bringing in other things people want,” Will said.
The facility also offers a sister business in Newkirk Perk, a coffee shop with special Dillanos Coffee, imported from Washington State. Newkirk Mercantile will also offer first responder, military and senior discounts. The store is open seven days a week.
Community leaders see the businesses as a positive for Newkirk, keeping a vibrant business alive, even with a new name.
“We want to welcome them to our community, and they are learning first-hand what the ‘Oklahoma Standard’ is,” Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Leaming said. “We encourage all our citizens to stop by, saying hello and introducing themselves.”
Newkirk Main Street Director Alyssa McCleery also sees a positive move with the store.
“I like the refreshed layout, and I am very excited about the coffee selection,” McCleery said. “I’m very excited to see what the future holds.”
The Coopers are proud of their new business, and feel right at home in Newkirk, the very type of community they’ve known all their lives.
“This is a tight community,” Shannon said. “We were both born and raised in small towns. It feels like home.”