After seven years, Robert and April Knecht are flying south and taking their business, Cannon Beach Treasure Co., with them.
The couple, who made a unique business out of collecting, documenting and selling historical artifacts as repurposed jewelry, have closed up their shop at 148 N. Hemlock and plan to relocate at St. Joe Beach on the Florida Panhandle by February.
“We both grew up on the West Coast, so coming out here was like coming home. But life has seasons,” Robert said.
The Knechts decided while they loved operating a store on the Oregon Coast, some changes in their personal life and the 24/7 life of retail was taxing them. They plan to open a studio in Florida with limited hours and expand their online commerce.
Moving to Florida would not only provide the slower life and warmer climate they seek, but also a chance to get back into the field of excavating and treasure hunting themselves.
But what exactly are they hoping to find?
“We’re treasure hunters, so we keep secrets better than the pope,” Robert said. “But let’s just say one of the things fascinating about the Panhandle is many Spanish galleons had to sail right past there on their way from Mexico to Havana. There are a number that are sunk off the coast there, and we have access to some of the world’s top research.”
The Knechts have been in the world of treasure hunting for more than 30 years, and eventually met and bonded over their shared love of the physical manifestations of history. Both grew up in households that valued history — Robert remembers his dad dredging for gold, April her parents showing her around historical sites.
Robert got his first chance to hunt for treasure while working as a photojournalist in Florida, where he was offered to join an excavation in Antarctica as a photographer and medic with a crew who discovered a famous Spanish galleon off the coast of Florida. Soon after Captain Carl Fisman, a famous treasure hunter and shipwreck discoverer, started mentoring him and Robert produced documentaries of his journeys.
“Treasure always seemed to find me, regardless where I was living,” Robert said.
The two for years carried on for years in unrelated careers, but decided while living in Phoenix, Arizona it was time to reignite their shared passion for history, treasure and ocean living.
The Knechts searched up and down the coast for a perfect place to open up shop before they were reminded of Cannon Beach by the image of Haystack Rock while they were watching TV one day. A couple of months later, they signed a lease on Christmas Eve, and started selling treasure from all over the world — some treasures from as close as Cannon Beach’s own sand.
“It’s an exciting process to go from archaic documentation all the way to something easily digestible and memorable for someone who is purchasing an artifact,” April said. “It introduces people to something they may have never come in contact with. It becomes more intrinsically valuable when you understand our shared history.”
April is excited to explore a new region and expand her business model to showcase more artifacts at one time than is presently possible in a retail location. But she will miss interacting with the customers both her and Robert have grown to know.
“I love seeing the kids come in and grow up. Little ones, 4- and 5-years-old, come back. They’ll pull money out of their pocket, know they earned it because it’s all crumpled up, wanting to buy their treasure,” she said. “We just want to thank our longterm customers that come back and continue to support us to do what we do”
“And who have become our friends,” Robert added. “We are very blessed to have had our opportunity to do this.”