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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Roger Knight: Treasure Hunter with a Heart

If you are a Gulf Coast picker, visiting vintage boutiques, antique stores and flea markets for the thrill of the treasure hunt, then you have probably already visited the Fort Walton Beach Flea Market, owned by master treasurer hunter Roger Knight. His store offers 14,000 square feet of indoor, air-conditioned space for more than 70 vendors, with wares that encompass doggie duds, designer purses, gently used and new fishing gear, baby clothes, costume jewelry, furniture and even vinyl records.

As a flea market and antique shop devotee, Knight took ownership of the FWB Flea Market in 2007, shortly after his military retirement. “I have always been a junker; a picker,” says Knight. “After 23 years in the Air Force, I retired and went fishing, and then my wife made me go back to work. I have been having fun ever since I purchased the flea market.”

The job keeps him busy, but not so busy that he cannot afford time to make a difference for other people. Knight is a treasure hunter with a heart. Since becoming owner of the flea market, he and his staff have worked to raise and donate roughly $41,000 to charities. The importance of fundraising became personal when his wife, Yoly, was diagnosed with cancer. Her successful recovery motivated Knight to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. His store sells many breast cancer fundraising items and 100 percent of the income is donated to the charity.

Knight’s enthusiasm for good deeds has even spilled over to his staff. Store Manager Melissa Addison is involved with numerous fundraising groups and works long hours at the store to facilitate both the sale of market items and promote the fundraising efforts. “My idea is that everything and everybody deserves a second chance,” she says.

Knight has been a board member of the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge since July 2010. Addison, a Jimmy Buffet Parrothead Club liaison for more than 267 chapters, collaborated with Knight to obtain a vintage guitar signed by Buffett, the Doobie Brothers and Kenny Loggins. The $3,000 from the sale of the guitar was donated to the refuge. Employees have also raised money for Habitat for Humanity, Shalimar Library, Socks and Paws and other local nonprofits.

Various other humanitarian efforts go on year-round at the flea market. Knight maintains a donation shelf where people can donate items that are sold for the benefit of charity. He also has a dropbox for donations and regularly raises money for the Special Operations Wounded Warrior Foundation. The market is a designated Toys for Tots collection box site, and Knight has also made donations to the Fischer House.

Knight takes his good deeds beyond just fundraising because he believes strongly in environmental issues. When he took over the flea market, he replaced the light fixtures and installed sun shades and solar light kits. He uses xeriscaping plants to lessen water usage and recycles boxes and newspaper that come into the store.

Even in his hobbies, Knight has an affinity with nature. He is an accomplished beekeeper and many people benefit from the 250 pounds of honey he produces every year. “It’s good to spread a little sweetness around,” quips Knight.

Knight’s big heart extends to the public, as well. The flea market is open seven days a week and he and his staff are there to aid other treasure hunters or the many vendors that rent booths to sell their items. He often offers to help people trying to figure out the possible antique value of item by researching it via a photo.

Whether he is at the flea market or at a fundraising event, Knight is always easy to find—just look for the man with the big heart.

Visit the Fort Walton Beach Flea Market at 125 Eglin Pkwy. S.E. For more information, call 850-301-3729 or visit FWBFleaMarket.com.

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