In retail and in life I’m always looking for a unique decorating find, something that looks a bit out of the ordinary, has a funky style, would make a great home accent piece or store display, and would cause a mild ruckus amongst coveting friends. One secret to finding such rare goods is a trip to the annual Midwest Junk Bonanza.
Held at Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minnesota, the Junk Bonanza features antiques of all varieties, artisan repurposed pieces (my favorite) and vintage finds. To join the JB, vendors and products are actually evaluated to ensure they are in fact “junk” quality (no reproductions allowed). Of course “junk” is a subjective word. What might be trash to one is the perfect accessory for another. Items range in quality from truly old (possibly containing some of the dirt from the barn or garage where it originated) to newly assembled and well kept.
I attend to procure the larger furniture pieces. This would include items I can use to decorate my house or use at Local Color. This last trip I found a beautiful, large china cabinet made from old shelving. The doors are made from old windows, giving it a unique, rustic appearance. The opposite of junk, this piece was amazing quality and could likely be sold at Pottery Barn at four times the cost that I paid for it. Therein lies the true reason to attend Junk Bonanza: Great value and even better finds than normal retail locations. My mom found a repainted antique church pew that would function superbly as a bench. Smaller items are also popular purchases. Pails and painted buckets, antique dishes, old mirrors, maps, holiday decorations, old washtubs, wall hooks, candle holders, artwork, are just the beginning of what you can discover.
The Junk Bonanza also features a small farmers market that features vendors selling jewelry, purses, homemade crafts and gourmet treats. Think of it as a mini-tradeshow of local artisan goods.
Measure your spaces, have an idea of what you are looking for, but also have an open mind. There are many unexpected finds and you may even discover items you can use for an entirely different purpose than intended (I found an old milk bottle carton with wire inserts that will serve as a fantastic wine rack).
Remember that items that do look "old" or quite junky can be played with and made new again. Some sandpaper and a can of paint can go a long way. Let your creative spirit take over!
Go the first day and be there early. This show has grown in popularity in the last couple of years and people will purchase quickly when they find a quality item or furniture piece. In this case the early bird gets the worm. If you discover something you like, find a vendor representative, stand near your piece and put your claim on it. If something you adore is sold, most vendors do have a back up supply of merchandise to replenish their displays as the show goes on, so don’t hesitate ask if they have more of a certain product.
Don’t forget to negotiate. This can be better received towards the end of the three day show (vendors don’t want to take their product home), but asking for at least 10% off is often accepted.
Don’t starve yourself – there is food, snacks, even Bloody Mary’s for sale. The general atmosphere is one of fun and friendliness, so don’t stress yourself out too much. Remember to take a break!
Parking is free. Tickets are normally $8, but this year Groupon had a half off deal for tickets at $4.
Bring a truck, or rent a U-Haul for the larger items you might purchase.
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