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Knowing Your Business: Islander Trading Post — Picking in paradise

Islander Trading Post, located on Sanibel Island, is more than one of the businesses of this vacation destination, it's an eclectic haven for collectors. Learn more about this seaside shop in the latest Knowing Your Business column.

By Antoinette Rahn

Nestled along the sandy coast of Sanibel Island, in southwest Florida, is an antique shop that is said to be as much an experience as it is a destination for collectors.

Islander Trading Post, owned and operated by Bob Averill and Georgene Emery,

BobAverill and Georgene Emery

Owners Bob Averill and Georgene Emery enjoy the best of antiques and the tropics. (Photo courtesy Islander Trading Post)

opened in 1988 in a place better known for quality seashell hunting than being a haven for antiques and collectibles treasure seekers. However, with showcases featuring World’s Fair collectibles to tobacciana, along with many things in between; a room dedicated to breweriana; hundreds of vintage license plates, and vintage nautical decor items throughout, Islander Trading Post attracts an eclectic mix of visitors.

Antique Trader caught up with Averill recently to learn more about this antiques business located in an island paradise.

Antique Trader: It’s been said your shop is truly like a museum, but everything is for sale. Was that your intention from the beginning? To make visiting your business like an experience, or did it take on that persona as the years have gone on?

Bob Averill: Our shop is called a museum every day. Some people even say that we should charge to come in our shop. It just started as a lifelong love of antiques and my thirst for finding that special treasure for some one to enjoy, something either they remember their grandmother used, or it was part of their growing up. We are going into our 27th year and it has taken on that persona as the years have gone by.

AT:What are some of the best and most challenging things about operating a business on an island? Are you one of the only antiques shops on the island, or is it bit of a hidden hot spot of antiquing adventures?

Vintage advertising signs

An eclectic mix of vintage advertising signs are always among the offerings at the Islander Trading Post. (Photo courtesy Bob Averill)

BA: We are the only antique shop on the island, so folks are shocked that our unique shop is on a vacation destination island. They usually come here for the beach, seashells and just generally to relax and eat good food in many of our excellent restaurants.

AT:If you were to describe some of the most eccentric and exciting pieces or people that have come through your shop, what would you say?

BA: Some of our customers have been movie writers and producers and professional basketball players as well as interior designers. Restaurant owners also frequent our shop to decorate their establishments.

AT:With more than two decades of experience, what are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned about the antiques market?

BA: The antique business has definitely changed over the years, from individual unique antique shops, such as ours, to the multi-booth antique malls and eventually to the emergence of eBay. But if you love what you are doing and work hard at the hunt for unusual items, you will be successful and have a good time doing it.

Islander Trading Post's 3 Keys to Great Business

1. Finding those special, meaningful items, buy them right, price them fairly and be honest with your customers. If you don't know something about a piece, then you don't know something about a piece. Honesty always comes back to you, just as deception always comes back to you.

2. We try and keep the shop as clean as we possibly can, but being on an island and having a sand parking lot, that can be a challenge.

3. We are very well organized and people appreciate that. They can go to a particular shelf or aisle and find the treasure they are looking for.

For more information about Islander Trading Post, visit them on Facebook at, email, call 239-395-0888, and if you're in the area of Sanibel Island stop by for a visit, 1446 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, FL.

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