Historic cash register uncovered at old family business

Historic cash register uncovered at old family business »Play Video
Contractors uncovered this cash register, which could date back to the 1890's, during a renovation. (KATU photo)

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Spark's Home Furnishings in Vancouver has been around for a while. But so has part of the four-generation business that no one even knew was there.

Sparks opened in 1882. After all these years, it will get a new owner this spring, along with a new remodel this summer.

Contractors working on renovation plans needed to look through the entire building to see what they had to work with.

Behind a wood panel, underneath a staircase, they expected to find things like wires and air ducts.

Instead they uncovered a cash register, probably dating back to the 1890s, one of the first the family used to do business in Vancouver.

"When I was kid, I painted that panel and that wall. Had no idea anything like that was behind it," said current owner Tom Craig.

The first thing Craig did was check to see if there was any money in it.

Nope. Just some receipts from the 1950's.

"Probably from about the time my grandfather moved it from our old store to this one. Why he decided to put it under the stairs I'll never know," Craig said.

Craig thinks the cash register is worth about $2,000.

He already checked out similar collector's items on ebay and Craigslist.

"I guess it could end up there," Craig joked. "It would look great in a bar in San Francisco, very Victorian, very ornate with gold and bronze decorations."

It won't be going far if contractor Chuck Rogers has anything to say about it.

And that's not because the lead bottomed machine is almost too heavy to move, an anti-theft tactic from more than a century ago.

Rogers is the contractor who uncovered it.

He and the architect working on the new building were looking for ways to use parts of the old building in the design.

"No, no, no. It won't end up on ebay," Rogers said. "I'm sure one of the new owners will want to display it as a tribute to the former owners."

They also found several old neon signs stored with the cash register. Those will probably find a way into the new building as well.

Remodeling will start in June.