Angeline McInerny hasn't been a life-long treasure hunter.
In fact, the hobby turned business sprouted up organically as McInerny and her husband looked for ways to press pause and spend quality time with their son, now 9. The family often spends vacations in the mountains, mining for emeralds at an abandoned mine, or at the beach, sifting through the sand to find 15-million-year-old fossils.
"It has been remarkable to uncover this passion in our adulthood and watch our young son as his enthusiasm outpaces our own," McInerny tells me. "And it is the youthful joy of a treasure hunt that inspired us to build our business - Treasure Quest Mining."
Treasure Quest launched earlier this year. It took the couple, who live in Cary and both still work full-time jobs, most of 2015 to develop the concept and infrastructure. They spent every available evening and weekend hour working on it.
It's been, said McInerny, a "bit of a weekend-warrior type adventure."
I checked in with McInerny to learn more about Treasure Quest and what they offer. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: How did you get the idea for Treasure Quest Mining?
Angeline McInerny: We have always enjoyed taking our son gem mining in the mountains and treasure hunting for shells, sharks teeth and fossils at the beach, and so we thought, "why not bring this closer to home for everyone to enjoy?"
This business springs solely from our love of spending time together as a family and creating new experiences together. Every treasure quest is an adventure and spreads an infectious joy. With Treasure Quest Mining, we strive to create an experience where families can press pause, spend some time together, and enjoy watching their child’s excitement grow with each find.
GAM: What all do you offer?
AM: Treasure Quest Mining is a mobile gem mining and treasure hunting experience. During the spring, summer and early fall months, we travel to regional events, fairs and festivals with our mobile sluice. We make our own mining rough using gems, shells and fossils imported from around the world. Treasure hunters select a rock bag or a beach bag and run their material through the sluice to unearth their hidden treasures. We also have an assortment of geodes and a geode-cracker to open them onsite. And to help our treasure hunters learn more about their finds, a section of our website is dedicated to identification and education about their treasures.
For the gift-giving season, we are excited to launch our holiday pop-up shop! From Oct. 29 through Jan. 15, you can find us in the center court (near Santa) of Cary Towne Center. We carry a full assortment of fossil, dinosaur, geology and treasure-hunting related gifts, toys and hands-on activities.
You will find everything you would need to bring joy to the rockhound, amateur paleontologist or treasure hunter in your life. Of course, being a weekend-warrior adventure, our hours of operation will be primarily weekends and holidays. Our hours and promotions will be posted on our Facebook page and event calendar.
Throughout the year, we also offer a birthday party option that we call our Backyard Miner’s Package. This is a DIY arrangement where we provide you with the equipment, mining rough and identification cards. You provide the water and hose! As a mom to a nine-year-old, I know how hard it is to find an affordable, flexible and scalable birthday party activity. We believe in inviting the whole class and the 15-person cap at many places just doesn’t work for us. So, we created this package intentionally for those families who want the freedom of schedule, size and activities.
And lastly, we are growing our online presence and hope to launch a self-hosted online store soon. In the meantime, you can find some our handcrafted jewelry items in our Etsy shop.
GAM: My kids have spent hours doing this. Why do you think kids love it so much?
AM: I would have to respond with, why do adults love it so much too? I think the simple joy of a treasure hunt is something that tugs at the inner child in all of us. Beyond that, I know I can get lost reveling in the beauty that comes from Mother Nature or find myself in awe as I hold a fossil from an animal that lived 500 million years ago. Perhaps we all simply love the mystery and excitement of a treasure quest, or perhaps it is the admiration we feel when holding an item that was created by a force other than man and machine.
GAM: This is a weekend job! How do you cram it all in? You must really enjoy it!
AM: I have to share that I find myself over the moon with happiness each time we host a treasure quest. Time and time again, we hear shouts of excitement and yelps of joy from kiddos (and adults alike) when they find either their first or their favorite treasure. And each time we hear one of these shout-outs, my son, my husband and I all look to each other with a huge smile on our face. It brings us incredible joy; we cherish these captured moments.
We conscientiously made the decision to launch this family-run business, independent of the demands and countless hours, because it is fun for all of us, including our son. I’m not going to lie and pretend that it is easy-breezy – because it absolutely is not. It is downright difficult and challenging. But it is a blast and has challenged us personally and as a family to grow and learn.
GAM: How do you hope the business grows and changes over time?
AM: We are excited for what is in store for Treasure Quest in the near and long-term, particularly with the opening of our holiday pop-up shop this season. Growing our retail line to have an in-store and online presence is our near-term focus for the business. As far as the future, we know to let the market lead us down the right path. As long as we’re having and creating fun and staying in the black, there’s a future for Treasure Quest Mining.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.