PORT TOWNSEND — The Lucky Deer Trading Co. was a lucky surprise for owner Karen Blessing.
“I was driving by and saw a ‘for sale’ sign on this little building. I stopped, looked at the flyer, and said to myself, ‘I think I have to buy this,’ ” Blessing said recently from her small shop at Discovery Bay.
That was 15 years ago, and Blessing, now 70, has decided to retire at the end of the year.
The real estate is for sale and the contents, if anything is left after the holidays, will be sold as well.
Blessing said she lived in Port Townsend back then, worked as a massage therapist and did craft shows on the side. She really wasn’t looking to start a retail business, but there was something about the property on the water with frontage on U.S. Highway 101 that caused her to call her real estate friend Maybelle Campbell and make an inquiry.
“I owned a lot by the fairgrounds and had planned to build a house there,” she said. “We sold it in one day and then I bought the store.
“I already bought these toys and tools to do county fairs that summer, so that’s what I started with. I had no idea of building a business like this one.”
She thought of opening a craft supply shop and selling craft items which she had done for some time, traveling to fairs and flea markets around the country.
“I was tired of sitting out in the rain having things blow around doing shows,” she said. “Doing county fairs is a lot of work.”
Blessing said her idea of a craft/supply shop, however, was short-lived.
“Just before I opened, I had Johanna Reinstra come and do the Feng Shui thing. She told me there was a lot of Native American energy here. That was my first clue.
“Then someone named Paul Eubanks, who works with tribes, came by. He asked, ‘Do you want to buy these Native American cards? Do you want me to bless this place?’
“Then he said, ‘Oh, do you want Lester Greene from the Makah Tribe to come out and drum it?’
“Whoa, I thought! It was drummed and blessed.”
Blessing said she realized there were three clues and that she should pay attention.
“I started listening to what the land was telling me,” she said.
Blessing previously had participated in various Mountain Man Rendezvous events in Wyoming and Montana.
“I was a fur, leather and bead trader. I was familiar with that type of merchandise. I lived in my van and traveled around selling these items at these pre-1840 re-enactments.”
It all began to come together and make sense.
Blessing still travels to various shows each year to buy items for Lucky Deer.
“I go to Tucson to the Gem & Mineral Show, and that’s where you can find all the Zuni jewelry and the turquoise. I go to Denver for Native American clothing, and then to the Seattle shows for other items.
“I don’t work with local tribe because they sell their items at the tribal shop in Blyn,” she said.
“I have a very good relationship with the Jamestown S’Klallam. They send me people and I send them people. We try not to carry the same stuff. They’ve been very good to me, sending me moccasin people and I send them people when they want locally made crafts.”
Some of her most popular items are locally made moosehide and buffalo moccasins, High Spirit native flutes individually keyed in walnut and cedar, leather items, blankets, and silver and turquoise jewelry.
Blessing said her customers have come from all around the world and said her location, at a junction that sees tourists on their way to Olympic National Park or to Seattle, has given her the pleasure of working with people from Argentina to Croatia.
The land spoke to her. Her history spoke to her. She listened and created a life.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.