Dusty, Rusty Relics

Dusty, Rusty Relics

Loving hands turn history into heirlooms


In the fall of 2013, Prairie Grove residents Amy Daniels and Julie Speed had a dream: to build an open-air flea market as successful as Round Top and Canton, two flea markets that Northwest Arkansas vintage lovers have to travel hours to shop. Fast forward six years, and the duo have built a hugely successful market that routinely boasts around 200 booths and attracts thousands of shoppers from all over the country to the area, boosting the economy in Prairie Grove and the larger Northwest Arkansas community.

The spring Junk Ranch, originally scheduled for the first of June, was canceled due to covid-19 concerns. But the fall show, says Daniels, is definitely on.

“The decision to cancel the spring show wasn’t easy,” she says. “We had to consider our vendors, the businesses that we rent services from, the shoppers and the downtown merchants who look forward to the extra traffic during our events. Even though it was hard to skip one, we think the wait will make this show all the more fun to attend.

“We have heard that our vendors have been preparing for months to be ready for this show,” Daniels adds. “I know of one vendor who attended a three-day auction out of state and another who made the drive to Tennessee to bring back a truckload of finds for the show. These small business owners are committed to the spirit of junking and are the reason shoppers line up to be some of the first through the gates.”

The Junk Ranch’s organizers are doing everything they can to produce a safe show for vendors and shoppers alike and are strictly following covid-19 guidelines, as mandated by the state of Arkansas: Masks are required for everyone except children younger than 10 years old, extra sanitizing stations will be found throughout the grounds, and tables in the food truck area will be no less than six feet apart.

But when The Junk Ranch gates open, says Daniels, all vintage and antique collectors will be thinking about is the merchandise.

“There will be several vendors attending the fall show that typically can only attend in the spring,” she says. “These seasoned vendors bring a lot of vintage, antique merchandise and unusual pieces. Our event formula will still ensure that shoppers see very little merchandise that isn’t authentic vintage, handmade or repurposed this fall.”

What’s Up! talked to several Junk Ranch vendors to find out what shoppers can look forward to.

Resurrected Goods

Tracie Patterson was a teacher for 17 years, and her junk business was just a side gig. As of June, though, it’s her full-time job — and, she says, she couldn’t be happier.

What do you love about selling at shows?

I love the atmosphere of shows and getting to meet the people that actually buy your stuff. And you don’t really get that with a [flea market] booth. When people love the same kinds of things that you love, it’s really fun. You have someone that picks something up and they say, ‘My grandmother had this,’ or they’ll pick up an old egg beater and say, ‘This reminds me of baking with my mom.’ It’s just that nostalgia. You’re basically selling those memories, those connections, to people. It’s fun.

When did you first start appreciating old stuff?

It’s a family thing — I’m sure a lot of people start that way. My granny May loved flea markets, and sometimes I would tag along with her. She would always find treasures. And my dad refinished a lot of things. He’s kind of a hobbyist carpenter, and he’s actually helped me on a few projects. Anytime he’s in town, he’s kind of my troubleshooter, problem solver, guide. So if I get stuck on a piece that I don’t know what to do with it or am in over my head, he usually helps me out. So it’s in my family.

It sounds like you take things others might discard and give them new life.

That’s where the name for my business comes from — Resurrected Goods. It’s from Ephesians 2:5, which is about being made new in Christ and being born again. And so I have a kind of a metaphor of that with my furniture. I really try to take the things that are discarded or things that are seen as commonplace and renew them and restore them and kind of elevate them. One of the big things I like to do is with feed sacks — I take old feed and grain, sacks and I frame them, I make them into pillows, things like that. I just like to take things that are kind of commonplace and give them a little more attention, I guess. One of the bigger things I’ll have at this show is — we took down a barn and we were able to re-purpose the wood. We use the wood for picture frames, and the metal roof we used to make angel wings.

You’ve shown at The Junk Ranch for five years now. What keeps you coming back?

It’s one of my favorite shows because they just do an amazing job. They have the porter service, and those Junk Hands are amazing, they’re like my angels, because I can bring a china cabinet to this show and I don’t have to move it, and I know it will get to the buyer’s car. They just think of everything — it’s a well-oiled machine. Even my husband, who is not that big into antiques, but he’s my muscle, he helps me at the show and he loves it — the food, the music … there’s something for everyone.

Barnstock Antiques

Kathy McHenry has been traveling from North Texas to sell her vintage finds and repurposed furniture at The Junk Ranch for five years — and at the huge Round Top Flea Market in Texas for even longer. All told, she says, she’s been in the business for around 30 years.

How did you get started in the junking business?

I worked in banking, and I wasn’t happy with it. I did shows on the weekends. This was long before eBay and Instagram and all that kind of stuff. So I would do shows on the weekends and then go back in the office during the week. And I got to a point where I thought, I’m not happy with this. I gave myself one year, and if it’s not working out for me in a year, the worst case scenario is I’m looking for a job I don’t like, and I’m already in that position. So let’s give it a shot! And really just never looked back. It’s the best move I ever made. If you’re not doing something that you love, there are so many other opportunities out there — go do something else. So for me, it was that easy. You get to meet the most interesting people and you actually end up having the time to hear their story, to talk to them. So, other vendors, the customers, the shoppers — you end up with a network all over the country of people that are looking for something different in their homes and their offices, in their lives. And it just kind of seems like a happy way to make a living.

What changes have you noticed over the years?

Francie Pool of Rogers looks at reflective steel sculptures Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, at the Red Nova, LLC tent during Spanker Creek Farm Arts & Crafts Fair near Bella Vista. The fall fair runs through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Ten, 20 years ago, everybody wanted, you know, Steuben glass and everything perfectly perfect. And we love now how the whole industry has gone to a more industrial farm look. People want to see wear on items. They want to see a patina, they like repairs, and so do we. So we like that the market has changed. And we think maybe [“Fixer Upper” host] Joanna Gaines, people like that, have pushed this look a little more.

Tell us what we can expect to see in your booth.

We tend to bring furniture. We tend to bring big pieces, and we specialize in a farm-industrial sort of look. We make furniture, and we incorporate farm pieces into them. Last year, we took a bowling alley out of Quincy, Ill., just on the other side of the Mississippi, and we made furniture, tables, bars out of the bowling alley lanes.

How has covid-19 changed your junking year so far?

Honestly, this will be our first show since covid-19. At this point, I’m not looking for indoor shows. We’re going to have to wait and see what happens. So I’m happy to be outside for a show like this. We think we’re all safer outside. We’ve been real cautious with all of this, as we think we all should be. And so we’re looking forward to it. We think it’ll be a fun, fun time for people to be together again, but in a safe environment, outside. We’re pretty excited about it. We can’t wait to get there.

Rust In Piece

Marquita Smith juggles her vintage business with her full-time job as a special education aide at a local public school. She sold her wares at the first Junk Ranch held at the current location — and has been there ever since.

What kind of items do you look for on buying trips?

“I started out just buying, for the love of antiques,” says Marquita Smith of Rust In Piece. Now she’s a popular vendor at The Junk Ranch.
(Courtesy Photo)

Usually what I buy is stuff I love. I always buy, thinking, ‘I may keep this stuff.’ And the stuff that I do keep, after a few years I’ll say, ‘OK, I’m tired of that. What else can I find?’ I do have a huge storage building that I keep stuff in for that reason, because for me, The Junk Ranch, fall season and spring season, to me, are two different types of stuff. People are looking for different stuff, so I can rotate it.

What do you love about the business?

I like when people ask you questions — ‘Where did you get this? What is its history?’ I’ve had the same man come from way down South. He has a flea market, and every year he buys something from me. If you stay in the same spot, people soon learn that you’re the same person and know you and come back to see you.

Monkeybox Vintage

Shara Stacks has been selling at The Junk Ranch since the very first event. In the ensuing years, she has become known for her vintage-packed booth that specializes — especially in the fall — in vintage Christmas.

Tell us a little bit about what you’re bringing to the Junk Ranch. Is there an item that you’re more excited about than anything else?

Well, honestly, I’ve been shopping and pricing for almost a year. Since the spring show was canceled, my storage unit is chockablock with goods. Until I load the truck, I’m not completely sure what all is in there! I do have a handcrafted Amish child’s rocker that is just so lovely — an heirloom in the making. I’ll have loads of vintage Christmas, vintage home goods and holiday creations made with vintage goods. And lots of surprises — for me, too!

Can you talk a little bit about the process of making your Christmas creations? Do you know where you’re going with something before you sit down and make it, or do you sit down with no idea and let it take you where you want to go?

It’s a mix of both. Sometimes I come up with an idea, and I look for the items to make that piece. I usually start with the biggest piece — a vintage tin or a vintage toy — and go from there. I try to stick to a theme like Santa or a specific color. I try to use as many vintage items that I can possibly use to make it authentically vintage. I do add in newer items like glass ornaments to fill in and to make it more affordable. When I’m finished with a piece, I set it aside for a day or two and then I nearly always add even more embellishments. I like the shoppers to have lots of hidden surprises to find in each creation.

You manage to make everyday items so special in your creations. What makes you look at an object and say “yes! that belongs in an art piece!”

I like old items with character. Maybe that old coffee can held nails in a shop for years, so it might be faded and rusty. But adding in vintage elements of the same color scheme suddenly makes that old coffee can a focal point.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever put in one of your Christmas creations?

I made an arrangement on the back of a vintage flamingo yard ornament once. That was pretty out there, but it sold as soon as the gates opened!

You’ve been with The Junk Ranch since the beginning. What keeps you coming back?

There are months of buying and making and planning in your house, and you never know if what you’re planning or taking will be well received or a flop. But then, the customers come, some even getting in line early just to shop your booth, and you hear the delight in their voices and the lines form to buy the stuff you found, the stuff you made. There’s really nothing quite like it. The Junk Ranch is my happy place.



The Junk Ranch

WHEN — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 2; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 3

WHERE — 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove

COST — $5-$10

INFO — thejunkranch.net



Crafts Fairs

Oct. 14-18

The tradition of arts, crafts and funnel cakes will continue in Northwest Arkansas during the third week of October, and festival hosts expect more than 500 exhibits.

Plans were submitted and accepted by the Arkansas Department of Health for three area festivals.

Spanker Creek Farm — The 14th annual Arts, Crafts, and More Fair, an outdoor festival, will take place Oct. 14-18 at 8464 W. McNelly Road in Bentonville. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 685-5655, www.spankercreekfarm.com or email info@spankercreekfarm.com.

Ozark Regional Arts and Crafts Festival — The 30th annual event presented by Ozark Regional Promotions is planned to take place both indoors and outdoors Oct. 15-17 at the Washington County Fairgrounds at 2537 N. McConnell Ave. in Fayetteville. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 756-6954, www.craftfairsnwa.com or email info@craftsfairsnwa.com.

It’s Fall Y’all Craft Fair — Oct. 15-18 at the Benton County Fairgrounds at 7640 SW Regional Airport Blvd. in Bentonville. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 616-2997, www.liveloveeventsnwa.com.

Organizers say each of these festivals will follow the ADH directives that emphasize social distancing and masks or face coverings required of all individuals when social distancing cannot be assured. They ask shoppers to stay home if you have had a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater in the last two days; have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell; or have had contact with a person known to be infected with covid-19 in the previous 14 days.

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