Junk Ranch Oct. 5-7 more than just shopping, it’s bringing memories home, say vendors

Junk Ranch Oct. 5-7 more than just shopping, it’s bringing memories home, say vendors
LARA JO HIGHTOWER/Special to the Free Weekly

Ten years ago this September, antiques dealer and Prairie Grove resident Amy Daniels had an idea: a fan of large-scale outdoor flea markets like Canton and Round Top in Texas, she was tired of having to drive hundreds of miles to find vintage goodies. Why, she thought, couldn’t the Northwest Arkansas area support such an event?

And so, in September of 2013, the Junk Ranch was born. The first event was a small one held at the Viney Grove Community Center in Prairie Grove — and it was mobbed. When fellow antique fan and Prairie Grove resident Julie Speed pitched in to help direct and control the overflow parking, the duo realized two things: they made a great team, and Northwest Arkansas was absolutely thirsting for the idea of an open-air flea market.

Today, Daniels’ and Speed’s home-grown event draws thousands of visitors to Prairie Grove. After the first show, the Junk Ranch moved to bigger digs, but Daniels and Speed made sure they kept it in their hometown at 11195 Centerpoint Church Road, a sprawling ranch boasting a picturesque farmhouse and traditional red barn — with vintage, antique, dusty and rusty finds spilling out of nearly 200 booths. Keeping it in Prairie Grove not only helps benefit the town the duo loves, but means local community members — including family — can be a part of the process.

“Our families are such an integral part of what we do,” says Daniels. “They help with projects before the show and, of course, during the show, many of them are out there working. We have family there as ranch hands, ticket takers, shuttle drivers and maintenance men. They keep the house running with the T-shirt sales, watch the gates and so much more.

“We also get community support from groups like the Prairie Grove FFA. These high school students and their teachers run the parking lot for us at many events. This isn’t an easy task and having their support is so appreciated.”

Community members say the Junk Ranch has been a huge boon for businesses of all kinds in Prairie Grove and the surrounding towns.

“It is a huge deal for the community — it brings in so many people who are not only looking for junk but who also need places to stay and eat,” says Sara Bradley, owner of Miss Rosie’s Vintage and Gift Shop at 124 E. Buchanan St. in downtown Prairie Grove. At her store, she says, to prepare for the Junk Ranch, “we stock everything, and then you have to have back stock ready and come in after hours to be able to re-stock.”

Laura Kraus co-founded the vintage camper motel Flamingo Springs with her husband, Zack, in 2017. It was designed, she says, to “bring strangers together that would leave our property as friends.” The Junk Ranch, she says, helped them realize those dreams.

“It is our most sought-after weekend of the year,” Kraus says of the event. “We are always full, sometimes a year in advance. We have repeat guests that come each year and stay in different trailers, along with a few newbies for each Junk Ranch. People return from their shopping adventures and show off their finds. They share food and stories, and it always seems like this crew has known each other for years. It’s amazing to me how someone’s unwanted junk quickly becomes someone else’s treasure, and that sometimes the real value in the thing they buy is the experience they have with other people during the process.”

The event draws new customers every year, as well as many return customers for whom the event has become a beloved tradition — customers like Laura Barlow Jones and her friend Helen Glenn.

“Junk Ranch is that few times a year that we make sure that we meet up and have a happy time,” Jones says. “The pastures with the tents and the big red barn are always a signal to us that spring, fall or Christmas is on the way. Everyone there has a great time with friends and family and, since the Junk Ranch is dog-friendly, getting to bring my dog makes it perfect.”

And then there’s the boost to the small business owners who sell at the flea market — around 150 vendors each show set up shop. Popular vendor Shara Stacks of Monkeybox Vintage, who has sold at the event since its inception, says the Junk Ranch changed the trajectory of her career.

“I [junked] purely as a hobby before,” she explains. “But now, thanks to the Junk Ranch showcasing its vendors, I’m lucky to have a fan base, if you will, on social media and in person. I buy and create things based on my shoppers and what I know they expect from me. When the gates open and people RUN to your booth looking for a specific item they see online — well, that’s what it’s all about.”

After 10 years of consistent growth, Daniels says the best measure of how far the event has come is the kind that recognizes all the forces behind the success.

“The best memories are being featured in some of the magazines we’ve been in,” she says. “This isn’t just recognition for us, but for our vendors, our staff, and all the amazing shoppers who get validation for loving the finds that bring history back into a home.”



The Junk Ranch

WHEN — 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 5; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 6; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 7

WHERE — 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove

COST — $20 for Oct. 5; $10 for Oct. 6-7

INFO — thejunkranch.net

Categories: Galleries