After 47 years in business, the Wampum Trading Post in San Simeon is closing its doors. The store on the landward side of Highway 1 has made its name — and many friends — by showcasing and selling Native American arts and crafts, along with related American-made products.
The shop likely will remain open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through May 20 or 23, according to Nancy Petroff, who said Monday, May 2, that she’d owned the shop since 1987.
Wampum apparently has been in business there for 47 years, although for a while, it was named Castle Warehouse, a business that now is separate and occupies an adjacent space.
Petroff said she’s going to retire and move to a Santa Maria independent-living center for seniors, to be nearer to her daughter Carolyn Johnson.
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The property owner plans to demolish the building and build something else, Petroff said, but added that she didn’t have any details on what those plans might be.
At press deadline, The Cambrian hadn’t yet been successful in contacting the landowners or the owners of Castle Warehouse.
Petroff said her favorite part of owning Wampum has been “the people. I’ve met some wonderful friends and made some long associations with people who keep coming back, love the store, love coming in.”
She said her favorite products have been the “animal fetishes, hand-carved animals made by the Zunis,” along with jewelry, the Kachinas and other dolls” made by the Native Americans. She always made sure that “everything in the store was handcrafted” by Native Americans or American craftspeople, “even the leather goods … our deerskin gloves are from Washington, our sheepskin slippers are from Boise, Idaho.”
Petroff will miss her friends and coworkers, and the buying trips through the Southwest. She had occasional celebrity visitors, too, from “a couple of the Beach Boys who stopped by quite regularly,” and she still has a card from comedian-artist-author Jonathan Winters.
Most of all, she said, she misses her late husband, Nick Petroff, who died a couple of years ago.
“He was our ambassador of good will, everybody’s best friend.”