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Vintage treasure found in eye of the beholder

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31 May, 2019 By Lara Hightower

Around mid-morning at Amy Daniels' and Julie Speed's first flea market event -- it was late September back in 2013 -- the duo realized they had a hit on their hands. Speed had to jump in and help park cars when the lot was overrun at the modest venue they had chosen. It was ample evidence that Northwest Arkansas was ready for a large, outdoor vintage shopping extravaganza, and Daniels and Speed were ready to deliver it. The Junk Ranch quickly outgrew its first home, and, today, it is held twice a year -- in spring and fall -- on an expansive stretch of land just outside of Prairie Grove. With the huge red barn and the gentle sound of cattle lowing in the background, the Junk Ranch delivers exactly what its website promises: a country barn sale.

"This year, we are opening the gates early, and we have purchased some shade trees," says Daniels of the challenges of holding an outdoor event in the already-warm May/June weather. The show runs May 31 and June 1 and will open at 8 a.m. both days. "We are committed to keeping our vendors and shoppers as comfortable as we can and to giving everyone an atmosphere that is enjoyable."

"This year, we are opening the gates early, and we have purchased some shade trees," says Daniels of the challenges of holding an outdoor event in the already-warm May/June weather. The show runs May 31 and June 1 and will open at 8 a.m. both days. "We are committed to keeping our vendors and shoppers as comfortable as we can and to giving everyone an atmosphere that is enjoyable."

That also means enjoying 10 food trucks.

"We are super-excited to add Miller's Homemade Ice Cream this year," says Speed. "They are an Amish family business, and their equipment looks like an old John Deere tractor. We can't wait to see it in action."

Daniels says 100 vendors that she calls "junkers, makers and artisans" from six states will be setting up on the grounds of the Junk Ranch. She says repeat Junk Ranch shoppers are always excited about the release of the vendor list and map.

"This show guide goes out in a newsletter, and it is probably the event information that is anticipated the most," she says. "Our shoppers really enjoy putting together a game plan of which booths they want to run to first -- and who can blame them?" Daniels says shoppers can get their own copy of the map at thejunkranch.net.

The event will again feature live music throughout both days, but, this year, there is also something new.

"Cason Frisby with Rocky Hollow Ridge Music will be on stage demonstrating his handmade cigar box guitars," says Speed. "This young entrepreneur is a first-time vendor, but he is no stranger to the show. His parents have set up with us for four years, and it's such a treat to see his love of guitars collide with vintage."

Also new this year: the "Lucky Junky Giveaway Station," a chance to win fun prizes from the Junk Ranch vendors and Prairie Grove businesses. Daniels says that all the work that goes into preparing the grounds for the next show give her and Speed ample time to come up with new ideas like this one and to get excited for each subsequent show.

"There are two major things that re-energize us for each event," she says. "One is all the thinking and planning we do while we are mowing the grounds. You just can't help but get excited. The other thing is finding out what our vendors have been doing to prepare for the show. We know that this year's vendors have been to some epic estate sales and farm auctions to bring you the best they can find. There will also be merchandise coming from an old barn in Kentucky, the St. Scholastica convent auction and salvage from a beautiful Victorian home that was torn down by the University of Arkansas. There will definitely be some one-of-a-kind finds coming to the spring sale."

No one knows The Junk Ranch better than its repeat vendors, so three veterans of the show stopped packing their trucks long enough to answer a few questions for What's Up!

Jon Hatton

Rock City Thumps

Has been in the vintage business for five years. This is his second year at the Junk Ranch.

Q: Tell us what we can expect to see in your booth at the Junk Ranch.

A: Rock City Thumps is a handmade goods company specializing in handmade Bluetooth speakers and lamps.

Q: Why do you keep coming back to the Junk Ranch?

A: I love the Junk Ranch because of the atmosphere, the people and the STUFF! Think "a REALLY good flea market" times 27.

Q: When you're shopping for vintage, what's something you can't pass up?

A: A well-priced old radio or an awesome wooden suitcase.

Q: What's the appeal of making something new with old materials?

A: I love breathing new life into older things and allowing them to continue to tell their story once more.

Q: What's your best piece of advice for potential shoppers about shopping the Junk Ranch?

A: Plan to stay the day and make at least two loops.

Q: Sell me on your booth -- why should I shop with you?

A: If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone that already has everything, or if you just want to have the coolest speaker or lamp on the block -- come hang out!

Andrew Shane

The Purveyor

Says he has been "buying and selling 'stuff' for 30 years." He's a return vendor to the Junk Ranch.

Q: Tell us what we can expect to find in your booth.

A: I carry a very eclectic mix of outsider and folk art, mid-century modern furniture and accessories, primitive farmhouse, vintage lawn and garden, vintage carnival sideshow and lots of "strange and unusual."

Q:When did you first become interested in old/antique/vintage things?

My uncle and dad owned a neighborhood grocery store in my hometown of Prescott and would often take in interesting items on loan or trade for groceries. I was always curious to see what had come into the store. I love this business because it is ever evolving, and there's an opportunity to learn something new every day.

Q: You'll have Christmas in your booth, even though it's out of season -- what's the evergreen appeal?

A: I think vintage Christmas is very nostalgic and reminds people of happy times with family and friends, which is why I believe it is so popular among collectors.

Q: What's the appeal of making something new with old materials?

A: I do create a few sculptures a year from found objects. We are such a throw-away society. I find beauty and value in personal items that have been broken or heavily worn and just tossed aside such as old toys, fabrics, hardware and furniture. I love to bring those items back to life and place them with an appreciative collector.

Holly Mullen DeVault

Mother Junker

An original Junk Ranch vendor. "I helped Amy and Julie set up a booth at the very first Junk Ranch at the community center because we were all naive enough to think we could be in multiple places at once," she says. "After that, I worked the booth and T-shirt sales and then the Junk Ranch headquarters -- wherever I was needed. About four shows ago, I decided it was time to start selling again."

Q: Tell us what we can expect to find in your booth.

A: I mostly only sell things I like! Mostly primitives, the chippier the better; mid-century modern; bohemian; rusty gold and vintage garden items. I like a layered mix of items, rather than one style, to keep it interesting.

Q: When did you first become interested in old/antique/vintage things?

A: I started buying antiques right out of high school. [My sister] Amy and I scoured flea markets and attended a lot of auctions. It eventually led to us getting a booth in a flea market, and then we started selling on eBay. I love the history of each item I buy. I still get excited over great craftsmanship. When that thrill stops, it'll be time for me to stop doing this -- probably because I'll be dead.

Q: What's selling best out of your booth right now?

A: [The answer] varies on the region I'm selling in. Farmhouse is still relatively popular. Chippy painted pieces are a booth staple. Well-made and known designer mid-century furniture -- especially seating -- sells quickly. Rattan and wicker bohemian pieces are popular. Vintage rugs and textiles are also a staple.

Q: What's your best piece of advice for potential shoppers about shopping The Junk Ranch?

A: If you love it, buy it -- don't walk away! I do a lot of shows, and I swear by this. Almost every single time a person is on the fence regarding a purchase and they leave the booth to "think about it," the next person walks in and buys it. It's some weird cosmic junking joke.


FAQ

The Junk Ranch
WHEN — 8 a.m.-3 p.m. May 31; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. June 1
WHERE — 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove
COST — $5-$10
INFO — thejunkranch.net


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