Treasure map vending machine pops up in Southold

The Greenie vending machine in Southold. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

Hunting for buried treasure need not be a childhood daydream.

That’s part of the idea behind Greenie Supply & Tackle, a conceptual North Fork-based shop that aims to inspire imagination, creativity and an appreciation for natural surroundings. 

“Shop” owners Bill Moulton and Heather Kosch of East Marion unveiled their second treasure map vending machine, located outside The Station at Port of Egypt Marine in Southold.

The machine dispenses real, individually crafted $5 maps and directs treasure hunters to search for hidden gems on the North Fork. A map could direct a treasure hunter to a chest buried under sand dunes at a local beach, Kosch said, or to the other two shared treasure chests hidden on the North Fork. Some maps could lead to vintage fishing gear, talismans and art objects, Moulton said.

Moulton, who works as a graphic artist and film director, said he views Greenie as “part business, part art project, part social experiment.”

“This business is really a creative outlet to do something that’s not for a corporate client or product — it’s just to create something new,” he said. “Instead of people buying products, they can buy an experience.”

Moulton first created the fictitious tackle store in 2015 to serve as the artificial sponsor for his web series of films. Inspired by 1950s newsreels, the films aimed to “find truth and purpose through oceanic adventure.”

Soon enough, viewers became intrigued by Greenie, he said, and wanted to know its whereabouts.

“More and more people online were chatting about ‘Where can I find this tackle shop? Is it in Greenport somewhere?’ It seemed like people were interested,” he said. “So it gave me the idea to bring it to life … I still wanted it to be a tackle shop that existed in your mind and imagination — but make it tangible in some way.”

A treasure hunter views a map from the original Greenie location in Orient. (Courtesy photo)

Kosch said she and Moulton began brainstorming ideas to bring the project to life. To find inspiration, they visited garage sales, chock full of “treasures.”

“We started finding old pictures and postcards,” she said. “Sometimes, they wouldn’t have information on them — it would just be a picture of a ship or boat. Putting together other objects with that, we started to brainstorm fictional scenarios.”

From there, the pair crafted stories that went along with each hidden treasure. They began repurposing a 1960s candy machine into a treasure map vending machine, which was placed outside the Orient Country Store in August 2018.

Country Store co-owner Miriam Foster said when she got word of the project, she was eager to put the machine on her property. The maps were selling so quickly that the machine had to be restocked nearly every week, she said, and new treasures needed to be hidden regularly.

“It was just so wildly original, I had to be a part of it,” Foster said. “It’s like a piece of magic. It looks otherworldly … People took to it very quickly.”

When it became difficult to meet the demand of that store, Kosch said, her and Moulton created the newer, modern Southold machine at Port of Egypt. Those maps lead to three treasure chests which hold many treasures. Hunters are encouraged to pick one treasure from the box.

That machine also dispenses Greenie patches, mystery cans and fisherman prayer candles, which are supposed to be lit the night before a fishing trip to help you catch more fish, Moulton said.

Looking forward, Kosch said, the couple hopes Greenie will generate enough revenue to send a portion of the proceeds to a local environmental group, like Save the Sound. The “shop” hopes to partner with local artisans to create other forms of buried treasure.

Greenie’s slogan is “change your day forever.” For Moulton, it represents rebellion from the norm.

“It’s about changing it up. Let’s make less sense,” he said. “Let’s depart from our daily lives of reality and responsibilities and just lose ourselves for a moment … Let’s just pay attention to what’s around us and reconnect with our imagination.”