On 195-A Pinehurst Avenue in Southern Pines, you might be lucky enough to catch Michael Kunik, 84 years old, jaunting around his newly opened business with the energy of a man half his age. From 8 to 3 p.m., Old Timer Collectibles & General Store offers a variety of vintage apparel, tchotchkes, books, tools — and, especially — quality stories.
“I spent 25 years in Special Forces, and then another 20 in the U.S. Civil Services,” says Kunik. “When I retired a second time, I barely had any idea what to do with myself. I guess I just needed a new project to latch onto.
Consider passing through Old Timer Collectibles & General Store for owner Mike Kunik’s collection of unique gifts and stories.
But let me give you the timeline: we opened in May, right as we were all coming out of the statewide Easter lockdown, and then, get this — I catch COVID. My dear friend’s husband caught it in his nursing home, and, naturally, it made its way around to me.”
As he recites his harrowing experience with the disease that has taken the lives of thousands of American senior citizens in the past year, Kunik lays his hand over his chest and throat, as if to recall the oxygen tube which has long since been removed.
“I remember trying to drive myself to the ICU and then having to pull off to the shoulder of the road and call 911 because I was so breathlessly sick. It took me about two months to recover. Now, I have some bullet holes, but I’ve never taken a sick day in my life — this was something else. It was a bad row to hoe, for sure,” he says, laughing.
Since his recovery, Kunik expresses his extreme gratitude to the Moore County nurses and other frontline healthcare workers who aided him throughout his two-month hospitalization.
“Yeah, those nurses kept me straight. With them, it was all ‘pull those covers over your feet! Get that oxygen back to your nose!’ Yes, Lord, those ladies kept me straight.”
Kunik returns to his aisles of curios, books, and tools. “My wife’s mother’s fourth husband had this bar and thrift shop in upstate New York, where all of this comes from,” he says, gesturing to a twinkling shelf of champagne flutes, ceramic beer steins, and novelty mugs.
84-year-old Kunik sells a little of everything at Old Timer Collectibles & General Store.
“It’s all been sitting in a warehouse since I inherited it. I’ve finally put my mind to doing something with all this stuff — I’m trying to put my grandson through college. It’s Christmastime, and everybody wants new stuff — y’know, already sealed in the box — but we have some really interesting, quality stuff in here,” he says, gesturing towards yet another expansive rack, this one displaying an assortment of cowboy boots and hats. “I mean, all of this is about as authentic as it gets — if you don’t mind buying them from a damn Yankee.
Kunik, a veteran, opened Old Timer Collectibles & General Store in Southern Pines earlier this year.
“My daughter Kim picked the name, ‘Old Timer,’ but I took the store logo from an Old Timer knife box. She’s a CPA, and I’m pretty sure she’s keeping me out of jail,” he says, with a wink. “This was a whole lot more difficult than I thought it would be, but I’m grateful that I have my family to guide me through all my senior moments.”
Consider passing through Old Timer for Mike Kunik’s collection of unique gifts and stories.
For more information on Old Timer Collectibles & General Store, please follow their Facebook page by clicking here.
Feature photo: Mike Kunik holds a fishing pole, just one of many things available at Old Timer Collectibles & General Store. Courtesy photo.
Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Shelby Herbert.