Dave Trageser has probably provided the city and schools of Bainbridge Island with more money than anyone else the past decade.
Well, not him, but the company he works for – D.A. Davidson & Co. of Seattle. Trageser is a senior vice president of the finance firm that works with the city and school district.
Trageser and his wife, Sharon, have lived on Bainbridge Island for 30 years. They have raised three girls – Lauren and twins Haley and Hannah – who all graduated from Bainbridge High School. Trageser likes to play tennis at the Bainbridge Athletic Club while Sharon is a Master Gardener and also has worked with Operation Smile, which does cleft palate surgeries on children worldwide for those in need.
Sharon worked as a nurse at Harborview Medical Center and Virginia Mason in Seattle until she retired about six years ago.
Trageser said they have always been interested in antiques at a personal level, acquiring them over the past 35 years. But about a decade ago they started to get more involved at a retail level.
“We enjoy the hunt, the money and we can do it together,” he said.
Trageser goes all around the area to estate and garage sales looking for treasures, while Sharon packages them in an artistic way.
“They’re mostly winners,” Sharon said of what Trageser finds. But if they’re clunkers he credits his wife with making “something out of nothing.”
Some of his finds in their booth at the Red Plantation in Poulsbo are: A Victorian push sled from a Chimacum estate sale, some old wooden skis from Sequim, and a scale from the 1930s from Belfair. Trageser said he specializes in historical photos and memorabilia. Their “bread and butter” are items like old Christmas ornaments, picture frames that Sharon turns into artwork and other small “doo dads.”
Trageser said COVID-19 has made it tougher to find treasures. “People don’t want you in their house,” he said, adding there are fewer garage and estate sales.
Fortunately, they have acquired quite an inventory in the past.
“Our garage – we couldn’t get our cars in, which was embarrassing,” he said, adding they’ve gotten better the past few years, so now at least one car can fit in there.
Their house is still pretty full of inventory, now that their kids are grown. One of their bedrooms is full just of Christmas items.
Trageser said this is their busiest time of the year, so they have to keep putting new items in their booth at the Red Plantation.
“We have to have a big supply through Christmas,” he said. “We have to have inventory this time of year as things are just flying out” of their booth.
He said despite COVID sales have been “shocking, still doing well. People who have money aren’t necessarily struggling.”
Trageser gave a lot of credit for that to Gabrielle McGraw, who has owned the Red Plantation for seven years.
Once COVID reduced customers at the store, McGraw started doing online tours of the shop a few times a week. The program now has more than 7,000 followers. She’s helping Poulsbo become a destination spot for antique sales.
McGraw said the four-hour-long Facebook Live shows have really evolved, with sales to people from Texas to Ireland.
“We are doing just as well being closed as we were when we were open,” she said. “It’s been our best year ever.”
McGraw said Red Plantation has a high standard for its vendors. They have to be experienced and show not only examples of their products, but also how they will display them just to get into the store. And, their personality has to fit with those already there.
“We’re a tight-knit group. We’re like a family,” she said, adding customers expect them to be “happy and fun.”