If you’re a fan of the old, the odd or the obscure, then Hawk Salvage is a store in Phoenix worth checking out.

Greg Hawk, a captain for the Phoenix Fire Department, started collecting 15 years ago as a hobby and sold his items to antique stores. But, after years of collecting it made sense to start his own business. Hawk Salvage opened its doors on Grand Avenue a year ago and Hawk has continued to add items of all varieties to his store.

“I think collecting actually started as a form of therapy but I found great satisfaction and enjoyment in buying random stuff,” Hawk said. “One thing led to another, my hobby became a business and now my real job is getting in the way of my hobby.”

Because Hawk may work up to 90 hours a week at the fire station, the store is open only about six days a month. Hawk usually provides a notice on his Instagram when the doors will be open but also welcomes people to call and ask when they can visit.

Hawk Salvage hosts a unique and diverse collection and its customers are no different, ranging from avid collectors to curious casual buyers who pass by the shop. Hawk said the downtown location and the coffee cart he placed outside his doors invites many walk-ins, but collectors and regulars also like to visit when the store is open.

“I get everything from young kids who just moved out of their parents house and are looking to decorate their dorm rooms to old collectors who come in to browse and buy items now and then,” Hawk said.

Paige Adams and Jacqueline Lindmark help out at the store from time to time and said that the biggest challenge is organizing all of the items that Hawk collects. Customers can find old photos, preserved animals, artwork, toys, and skulls to list a few examples. Unlike many other antique shops, Hawk Salvage also features a collection of live plants from all over the world.

“It isn’t the easiest task to consolidate and group such a massive variety of things that are always coming and going, but I think we do a pretty good job of making the groupings feel cohesive and understandable,” Adams said.

The pandemic has closed many small businesses around the Valley, but Hawk has managed to keep his doors open. Hawk said that he and Lindmark now wipe down the store regularly, masks are required and the shop has four hand sanitizer stations located throughout the store. Hawk also has an appointment page set up on his Facebook where people can set up a time to shop without other customers.

Hawk takes long road trips, sometimes all the way to the East Coast to, collect items for his store. According to Hawk, he’ll purchase items in the city he visits and while taking the back roads home, he’ll stop in thrift stores, dumpster dive and attend auctions, collecting items along the way.

“I just buy things that I like and so far I’ve been really successful with this,” Hawk said. “I’ll fill a 20-foot trailer to the point where I couldn’t fit a piece of paper in the back door.”

According to Hawk, he would never import old items simply to resell, he enjoys the process of finding items with a story. Hawk said that some items come with a certificate of authenticity or a date and name attached to them but he would never try to sell an item as old or vintage if it isn’t.

“I used to look for things I thought people would buy and I really just ended up with a bunch of random shit that I didn’t like,” Hawk said. “I went back and just started buying things that I like and now if I find something super cool I’ll put it in my house and if i get tired of it I’ll put it in the shop.”

Hawk describes his store as “more of a museum or a gallery than an antique shop.” When it comes to pricing his items Hawk said that it has less to do with what he spent on it and more to do with how rare or unique it is. He said that sometimes he’ll buy things that he knows he won’t make money from but that have a wow factor or a story behind it that he can’t ignore.

“You can’t help but hear the excitement in his voice,” Lindmark said. “Greg is fascinated by the items he collects and knows the history behind each item and where he collected it from.”

According to Hawk, making money is not his first priority, he finds other aspects of owning a small business more rewarding; hearing people tell him how unique and original his store is, and connecting with the downtown community. Hawk spends time chatting with all of his customers and even passes out toiletries and supplies to local transients. Hawk plans to retire from the fire department soon and dedicate more time to his business.

“I think the reward is knowing that I have something that is going to be fun and successful outside of my 35 year career path that will make that transition easy,” Hawk said.

Retiring from the fire department does not mean Hawk plans on slowing down. In fact, Hawk has big plans for the future of Hawk Salvage. He said that he hopes to eventually add a coffee shop, study area, garden and artist stations. Hawk said a long term goal is to get a beer and wine license which may lead to small events and art gallery collaborations down the line.

“I volunteer my time at the shop but my hopes are sticking around for the long haul,” Adams said. “It’s such a great environment that it’s become a place where I like to hangout regardless.”