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Main Spotlight: High School Student Starts Thriving Antique Shop on Main Street

October 29, 2019 | Main Spotlight: High School Student Starts Thriving Antique Shop on Main Street |

Model_A_Roadster_Credit_Steve_Bourne_3307_Photography_Resize.jpg16-year-old Luke Knudson poses with his 1926 Model A Roadster outside the antique shop he opened when he was 13 years old. Luke drives the car at local parades and parks it outside the shop during Sheridan’s car show. Credit: Steve Bourne 3307 Photography

Downtown Sheridan, Wyoming, has been home to dozens of antique stores over the years, but one of the few remaining and most popular shops in town isn’t run by a long-time business owner—it’s operated by a local teenager who opened the shop when he was just 13 years old. In between going to class at the local high school and doing homework, 16-year-old Luke Knudson owns and operates The Old General Store Antiques.

Luke’s passion for collecting antiques started when he was 4 years old and bought an old metal candy box. At age 10, Luke rented out a few shelves to sell his antique wares at a local antique mall. By age 11, he had run out of space and rented a booth at another antique mall across town. When he was 12, Luke rented a storefront on Main Street and officially opened his shop’s doors when he was 13. Luke says he’s “trying to defy the stigma” about his generation and was thrilled to turn his passion into a full-time business.

Luke rented his storefront from Steve Kuzara, who runs a clothing store next door. Steve said he knew there was something special about Luke, so he agreed to rent out the space on a month-to-month basis after Luke’s mom co-signed the lease. Luke paid his first few months of rent with cash and prides himself on having saved enough money from his antique mall sales to never take out a loan or go into debt.

“He always seemed older than his years; he’s very smart, very attentive to adults, and really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to antiques,” said Steve.

When Luke signed the lease, there were holes in the floor and asbestos in the ceiling. He and Steve spent six months renovating the space and restoring it back to a turn-of-the-century look, complete with restored hardwood floors, exposed brick, and the original ceiling and façade. Built in the late 1800s, the building had a seedy history as a brothel, billiards shop, and saloon. Restoring the historic look of the space was important to Luke, who wanted people to feel like they stepped back in time when they entered the shop.

Interrior_Shop_Credit_Steve_Bourne_3307_Photography_resize.pngThe interior of The Old General Store Antiques. Credit: Steve Bourne 3307 Photography

Luke credits the success of his business to curating an atmosphere of a historic general store and making his shop feel like a destination. Since the Old Town General Store officially opened its doors in June 2016, it’s been slowly gaining popularity ever since. There were eight other antique shops in town when Luke opened his own, but now only three remain. Luke plays old-timey music, uses an index card filing system and adding machine on the counter, and displays old player pianos and barber chairs to draw in customers. Luke also has a strict policy that everything he sells must be made before 1950.
According to Steve, “most people downtown could learn about how to run a store from Luke.” He moves around his inventory a lot, prices things fairly, and provides personal attention to customers. Luke has become known as an expert on antiques and has even started restoring antique items, like clocks, lighting, furniture, and radios.

Luke juggles school and the business by employing four clerks and three restoration professionals who can tend to the store while he’s away. During the schoolyear, Luke works from 2pm – 10pm, and over the summer, he doesn’t take a day off. Even when the store is closed on Sunday and Monday, he’s busy making deliveries, appraising estates, restoring things at the warehouse, meeting with people selling items on consignment, or taking buying trips.

Luke’s business continues to grow, and he has his hopes set on expanding the business and continuing to focus on his passion for history by going into historic real estate. Even with dreams of expanding his business, Luke said there’s nowhere else he’d rather be but downtown. “By having a store like mine downtown it rekindles people’s interest in shopping locally and in a historic brick and mortar store. I want to see a resurgence of downtown businesses being frequented again,” Luke said.

According to Downtown Sheridan Association (DSA) Executive Director Zoila Perry, Luke is actively involved in the downtown. Even though he couldn’t attend DSA’s annual Wine Fest fundraiser, Luke was a sponsor. He also provided the DSA with an old popcorn cart that they painted and used at Main Street events as an info table.

“I think having Luke’s store builds momentum for aspiring entrepreneurs—that there’s young people who want to be a part of our downtown,” said Zoila. “Luke could have chosen to rent his space elsewhere, but he chose downtown.”