OUR STORY

Elizabeth & Robert

We love the American coastline and we love American style. When this classic style is forged with design and history, an independent and authentic environment is set into motion.

Summers spent on America's eastern coastline set two sun-loving collectors on a journey together. When joined, their passions created an unfashioned love affair with vintage tropical paradise style.

 

With sunglasses adorned to freckled faces, the music a little louder than mom might approve and hot boiled peanuts next to a Coca-Cola glass bottle, adventures fill the hearts of the Carolina family's latest "pick."

 

Without question, adventures from dirty musty barns to museum-quality garages, have spawned a love of things from America's past. Loving both history and design, America's remarkable advertising market became a natural melting pot to which this family chows down on quite regularly.

 

We found purpose from learning what worked in the past while honoring America's beautiful coastal landscapes by designing unique and functional coastal living. Harbor17 ultimately ties the unexpected together with history, charm and modern style. We're ever so grateful for you joining us through these adventures and finds and hope you find your own adventure in some of our finds.

MEET THE FAMILY

Robert

Owner & Picker

At the young age of 12, while rooting in my parent’s basement, I discovered a 1950’s porcelain six-color Sherwin Williams “Cover the Earth” sign. This became the first sign I ever picked and still hangs in my home today.
 

During my early years, I spent many summers on the Atlantic Coast at my grandparents' home and Studebaker dealership. My dear grandparents, eager to share with me the fun of “picking” and delighted to teach me the history of pieces we found, spawned a thrill for things old – things that could tell a story themselves.
 

Stories of wars, flying airplanes, amazing athletes and wild musicians filled my youthful head. I began to collect all sorts of things from baseball cards to advertising signs. There was something important in each of them, a story that needed to be told.
 

Sunny summer days slipped away from my youth and I began to chase bigger dreams. I played college basketball and graduated magna cum laude from Lees-McRae College with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1992. Shortly thereafter, I became a PGA golf professional and had a career as a General Manager in several resorts, opening four golf courses and consulting for various golf facilities in the South East.
 

But something kept calling me back to the Grand Strand where I first “picked” as a youngster. So, I began to start picking again. For more than 20 years, I chased down collectibles from all over the world. I invested blood, sweat, and tears to create a reputable business while educating myself along the way. I have had the pleasure and honor to get to know and do business with collectors and experts from around the world. These experiences have helped me cultivate a viable network throughout the antique industry.
 

Throughout the last 15 years, I have operated my own auction company and have been able to narrow my specialty to my first pick – vintage advertising signs. Today, I pick antique advertising from all over the world for private collections and for auction.

When I reflect back to those summers, I am so grateful for the time my loving grandparents invested in me. They sparked a curiosity and a respect for the history stored up in each treasure. I want to preserve and pass the stories and fun on to my family and for future generations.

ELIZABETH

Owner & Designer

I fell in love with vintage advertising the first time I sat through one of Robert's antique advertising auctions. Fascinated with both the variety of signs and the auctioneer's enthusiastically weaving of history and humor in with each piece he sold, I began to journey down a natural path of both love and curiosity. 

 

I knew that sparking on a new relationship with both signs and a sign "expert," I was beginning to push the envelope of design.  I couldn't help but to mentally create a room in my head around each magical token of history I came across during a pick.

 

Whether it was a sign's brightly colored graphics that would introduce lovely conversational pieces or a rusty neutral pallet to make a casual backdrop in a livable comfortable home, either way, I was hooked.

 

A few years later, my dear auctioneer and I married.  We found every opportunity to slip down to the coast, excusing every trip as a chance to "pick" along the way. Hours on the road together lead to lots of brainstorming and dreaming.

 

With his sweet encouragement and the freedom to explore new designs within our own home, we began sketching ideas for Harbor17. And, a few more years later, together, here we are, loving the hunt as much as our first pick together!

JAMES

Picker in Training

Learning the trade is an everyday adventure for me. I'm reading books, going to shows and my free time is spent watching and learning from Mike & Frank on American Pickers. 

 

I was first introduced to picking while helping my dad, Robert, out at his auction house. I was in charge of finding the next in line sign when hanging a sale and trash and nail clean up after the sales. I have helped in the snack bar but mostly eaten from it (thank you, Fred!). But, as my interest and I both grew, so did my responsibilities. I became his "ringman" during the auction and learning the business from him.

 

As he travels the roads to picks, I am responsible for helping ensure his packages go out. And, upon his return, I help him unload his truck and he teaches me about the signs he picked.

 

For as long as I can remember, I have been alongside my parents and "sign family" hunting collectibles. Along the way, I have gotten to know many good friends from all over the country that watch me grow up.

 

Most weekends, you can find us at auctions, sign shows, antique stores, flea markets, yard sales, the dump, or swap meets. Where ever we go, we're on the lookout for something old and unique, something others have overlooked.

 

I love picking and learning all about the history of the things we find. My dad is teaching me about values, age, condition, and rarity of the things I like to collect- there is so much to learn!

 

My very first sign was a Texaco sign that I hung in my treehouse. But, signs are not all that I collect. I also collect ball cards, matchbox cars, and Smokey the Bear stuff. Because I like collecting so much, I am starting my own club for kid pickers like myself. 

 

I love helping my parents with their business. I am learning all kinds of new stuff from the history of the motor cars in America to how to take and edit pictures. My favorite time of the year is summer when we spend much of our time on the road going all over to find great pieces of American history.