Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The story behind the junk. Part 2

I wanted to do the same, just different. While waiting for the Gods to tell me what to do next, I dabbled in product design creating concepts for Eddie Bauer Home, Carters Kids, and a line of decorative accessories for a national home decor catalogue. It just wasn't my dream job. I guess I missed retail. I recall visiting with girlfriends over dinner about my dilemma. One gal explained to the group about Rose, a woman in Buffalo MN, that had a retail store selling old stuff and only opened to the public once a month. Now that sounded like it was right up my alley!

I went home that evening, told my husband I was going into the junk business...and oh, by the way, I would only be open two and a half days a month. "You must be kidding!" was his initial response. He did however remember a few weeks prior, I had a garage sale that grossed over $11,000 in a weekend. Maybe I wasn't so crazy after all.

I rented a small warehouse and my son Tyson, 13 years old at the time, helped me to come up with the name. JUNKMARKET

I went to the bank for a small loan, (Which was very interesting when I told them what I was planning to do with their money...) headed out to the country with my SUV and purchased several loads of junk. I was now in heaven! Junk Heaven!

In the beginning it was pretty much me, family, and friends. My mailing list consisted of no more than 50 people. But I'll be darned, somehow the word spread and I couldn't keep up with business. Sue Whitney was one of JunkMarket's loyal and enthusiastic customers and asked to join me in the business. Ten months after JunkMarket began, I took Sue in as a partner.

JUNKMARKET's mission was to make decorating with junk cool. Many Junkmasters had gone before. We were determined to reiterate their message. Junking is earth friendly and Junk is cool!

It took a bunch of folks to make JUNKMARKET a success. Tom was our mentor, supplier, and hauler of good junk. I learned most of everything I know about junk from Tom. I met Tom at Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles Illinois and he has been my dear friend ever since. I recently learned a lot about life from Tom and his family. Tom survived a heart transplant 90 days ago and is planning a trip to the Junk Bonanza!

The people came to JUNKMARKET once a month to buy our good junk! We moved 3 times to accommodate the crowds.

Customers waited patiently in line to get a chance to grab some good junk.

This area was known as JOB. Junk out Back. The really grungey junk!

They came in busloads! I know from experience you can fit several armoires in the luggage compartments under a bus.

A sea of customers flooded the JUNKMARKET every sale. Minnesota nice made for a delightful shopping experience...most of the time. We occassionally drew straws for the One of a kind/I got here first conflicts.

The displays were pretty.

The displays were fun.

The junk was sophisticated.

The junk was edgy.

The junk was good.

The junk was always plentiful!

It took a whole lot of folks with a whole lot of energy to make a JUNKMARKET sale happen!

Irene was the queen of ticketing and headmaster of the check out. You could hear her yell "Next!" from a mile away.

Lorraine shown above powerwashing. Everyone pitched in getting the junk ready to go.

Julie spent much of her time painting...when she wasn't sewing, organizing or ticketing.

Oh yes, the boys...we couldn't have done it without them. Ethan and Chris, brothers, made a great team!

And then there was Emily! She ran the show, always with a smile! You may recognize her as the mayor of the Junk Bonanza.

This junking business thing proved to be right up my alley. I never imagined what was about to happen next. Magazines, books, TV, speaking tours, and even the Today Show. Stay tuned for part 3...




Robolady said...

Now that was a party for the eyes. Thanks for the "backstory" Ki. I just loved seeing your displays and warehouse. I saw lots of stuff I wanted, but I'm sure it has all been sold by now. Wish I lived closer.

View my blog at:

Vanessa said...

Man, I love all your pictures! And your books! And your magazine articles! The more junk the better! Love the JOB! I just blogged about digging through JOB in my church clothes the other day. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

Joy Zaczyk said...

Seriously Ki, this is my idea of heaven! What a wonderful post.
'Junking' is the new 'recycling' - and what fun it is!

I re-purpose old junk and can truly say I love what I do. Every day is a new adventure. What could be btter than that? :)


Catherine Holman said...

I have both of your books and your magazine and have been hooked since. My sister and I hope to make up to the Junk Bonanza sometime. I'm so glad you have started a blog!

lsum1258 said...

Thanks for the insight into JunkMarket. One of these days I'll make it (back) to Minnesota for the bonanza.


Cynthia Holt Ziemian said...

Ooooooh.....I LOVE your pictures and what a great story! You are the greatest junk mentor ever! And love your 'rags to riches and fame' story...go girl!

Robolady said...

Ki, I gave you an award. Check out my blog to receive it.


View my blog at:

cindee said...

You have done so much. I am so in awe of your accomplishments! Way to go!!!!

Joy said...

You are such an inspiration! I am truly enjoying your story, your blog, and your pictures!

Stacey said...

Loooove all the yummy pics! If only I could be part of the action, too! ;) Hoping to make it to this year's Bonanza, it'll be too hard to resist! Good luck with your new junk ventures, I'm sure they'll be a fun success!! (I'm VERY curious about the Junk Revolution).

Check out my new blog at:

countrygirl3031 said...

OOOOOO, I love all your pics. Sounds like heaven going through all that junk!!

Wish I lived closer too!!!


Garden Antqs Vintage said...

Hello Ki, thanks so much for adding my blog. I really appreciate it! I would love to have been at this sale!!

pedalpower said...

What fun! I'm so glad you are sharing how you started out. Wonderful pictures too!

Sher said...

Ki, I have something for you, too! C'mon over to my OldTimeMe (Grinnin Gramma) blog and pick it up!

Stacey said...

Ki, I'm putting a link on my blog to yours, if that's ok?!

Sher said...

Ki, I saw your message on my blog but don't know how to reach you! Please email me at and I'll help you through the "process"! ;=)

Colleen said...

Thanks so much for sharing those photos. It is so interesting to read about the history of your business.

You are off to a great start with your blog. Keep it up! I'm going to add a link from my blog.