Pauline Nelsen had a vision.
Before she bought the Coombs property known as Trash and Treasures, she had worked tirelessly in construction and road building. And then she had a heart attack.
“I’m extremely active and I’ve always worked really hard and when that happened, you might as well have killed me,” said the owner of Treasures, Curios and RV Park. “I like to be outside and I take pride in how hard I can work. And then one day you’re told you can’t do anything.”
Although she pressed on, she knew it was time to slow down, so she purchased the large, rustic property on the hill overlooking the Coombs Junction, with an eye to opening her own antique shop. The property was known internationally, she said, as a place to find all sorts of antiques and random items. And she has guests books signed by people from around the world to prove it. The owner of Trash and Treasures suffered health problems and had to sell it, she explained, leaving behind an old building said to be the original Gold River Hotel from 1926, a massive amount of antiques, and four run-down cottages.
Nelsen said there was so much stuff on the property, with used items literally pouring out of the buildings, that she could hardly get inside them.
“Everybody thought I was insane buying this place. All they could see was a mess, they couldn’t see the vision I could see. I said they’re all scared of a little hard work.”
Nelsen, with the help of one friend, has now restored all of the cabins and has remodeled and repainted the store. She went through all the old pieces she found on the property and selected the items she wanted to keep.
The store contains selected antiques and items from her own collection, which she continues to build up. She sells the Canadian semi-precious gemstone Ammolite as well as work from local artists, like a local bead-maker, and rustic furniture maker Dwayne Marchand. And she’s looking for more.
“I’m looking for artwork,” she said. “from knitting booties and carving to everything in between. We want to show Vancouver Island and the talent here, and what the Island’s about.”
She has RV sites and is in the process of applying for five more. When people visit the store they can sit and drink complementary coffee and tea, or take their dogs for a walk on the adjacent trails, she said. Nelsen has arranged for a Tarrot card reader to come to the site once or twice a month, where proceeds collected will benefit the B.C. Children’s Hospital and its campaign to build a new hospital. After all, she’s a grandmother of six, she said.
“The best part of my store is you get to bargain,” she said. “And I love to bargain.”
Treasures, Curios and RV Park is at 2771 Old Alberni Highway, up from the Alberni Hwy in Coombs, accessed by Winchester Rd. open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 to 4:30 p.m. but if Nelson’s around she will open up the store or stay open later. Call 250-927-3434.