New Booth and the June Junk Ranch!

Good gracious, you guys, things have been a little nutso around here lately. I have found myself, on more than one occasion, muttering “What have I gotten myself into?” as I sort through the junk I’ve got stored in the garage. Fortunately, now that I’m on the other side of the multiple events over the past month, I find myself optimistic about the future of my junking business, so I guess that’s a plus, right?

The insanity started with May’s work night at the flea market, when I casually mentioned to my friend Carrie, who has the most AMAZING booth at Daisies and Olives (seriously, she is so talented) that I had been tentatively thinking about putting my name in the hat for a bigger booth someday. Carrie pointed out that there was a lot of movement in the store right now — several vendors moving to bigger spaces, leaving openings — and encouraged me to talk to Martha about it that very night. Cut to me driving home that night, having all but committed to moving to a space three times my current space’s size! When I left home that evening headed for a booth re-foof I had no intention of making this move so soon. When I got home and talked about it with Justin, he pointed out that I had been complaining about sales stagnating lately and my suspicion that I had hit the ceiling on what I could earn with my small booth. Only one piece of furniture at a time would fit in there, and because having something big substantially cut down on how much other merchandise would fit, I would have to move it out pretty quickly if it didn’t sell — I didn’t have the luxury of letting big pieces sit for a while so their new prospective owners had time to see them. And I really think that my booth’s size and orientation encouraged just quick scans by shoppers instead of a slower perusal that would reveal all of the little things that were sometimes hiding in the booth. Talking it out with Justin really helped to calm my fears and realize that this was something that I had to try in order to figure out how far I can take this business.

The most stressful part of the decision, though, was that I made it less than a month before the Junk Ranch event — meaning I would have to fill a booth three times the size I was used to AND fill my half of the booth Shara and I were sharing at the Junk Ranch. I really started to panic but decided to take it one step at a time — fill the flea market booth, see what was left over, then get busy making signs and prints to make up any deficit.

Moving into the new booth was very much like moving into a bigger apartment after you had been used to making a studio work — such a relief and it felt like SO. MUCH. SPACE.

Stage One was getting the mirror hung.

I got this mirror about a month ago and while I think I Instagrammed it, I don’t think I had written about it on the blog. It was marked “$50 – firm” and though I have never, ever, ever, ever done this before on something marked firm,  I asked the ladies having the sale if there was any way I could purchase it for $40. $50 just seemed to risky for me, but $40 made me feel comfortable about buying it. There were three ladies standing in a group when I asked, two sisters and the adult daughter of one of the sisters, and the daughter immediately said, “sure!” but no sooner had she gotten the word out than her mom YELLED, I mean, YELLED, “NO! Absolutely not! I just marked that down! It was marked $75 and $50 is a good price for that!” Now, she was yelling at the daughter, but really, she was yelling at me, because I had asked, and I felt terrible. Because, really, $50 WAS a great price for that mirror, it was just a figure that scared me. So I sheepishly told them that I would think about it and went back to my car. I drove about 100 feet, then turned around and went back to buy it. And as soon as I saw it hanging up in the booth I couldn’t believe I had ever waffled on it. It’s marked Not For Sale right now because it looks so good in the booth but I think I’m going to sell it next month…Carrie told me to start it in the high 300s (WHAAAAAAT??) and if I could get anywhere close to that, I should sell it. I think it will be one of those things where I mark it really high so I’m fine if it does sell and fine if it doesn’t sell.

I didn’t take any pictures with my real camera so you’re going to have to make do with Instagram photos, filtered to the hilt.

I love that I have three full walls to hang things on. Finally, a place to display my last pull-down map! This one sold within a few days.

And I can finally realize my dream of doing a nursery-themed gallery wall. This bead board is so nice on the back wall but both it and the wood pallet wall require a drill to hang anything, which adds a bit of time when I’m hanging new artwork. Oh, well, totally worth it.

I’ll know more once I get my check for June, but so far, sales have been pretty brisk — I have sold a TON of smaller stuff. I have three big pieces of furniture in there right now and none of it has sold. So that’s a worry. Also a worry: finding replacements for them if they ever DO sell. Finding furniture around here is nearly impossible and the field is VERY competitive. In Chicago, you can find your pick of small pieces of furniture (little dressers, coffee tables, end tables, foyer tables) but here they are very few and far between. We participated in a neighborhood sale here last weekend and I watched as my neighbor’s furniture pieces were snatched up at 6:15 am, when the sale didn’t even start until 7. I won’t ever be that person. If I get to a sale at 6:57 and it doesn’t start until 7, my body stays in the car until the clock reads 7 on the dot. I just don’t have the nerve to risk inconveniencing anyone. So I’ll have to figure out a plan for getting more furniture…auctions in neighboring states are a real possibility except I’m limited there by what fits in my car and what I can carry by myself. Michelle suggested I start looking for a little used trailer to invest in and I’ve been mulling that over. We’ll see.

My loot for the Junk Sale ended up being a combination of signs, framed prints, and things that I tried in the booth but didn’t have much luck with. You guys remember last year, right?

I showed up with a 14 foot truck, packed to the gills. This year, I had two car loads full, which was all I could manage to pull together with the strain of filling a bigger booth weighing on me. It was just as well, because Shara and I, in a fit of timidity, had decided to share a space instead of getting one each. We were both afraid we wouldn’t be able to fill an entire booth ourselves. Which became HILARIOUS to me the minute I unzipped the tent to drop off my stuff the night before the show — I wish I had taken a picture — Shara had a MOUNTAIN of great junk neatly stacked on her side of the tent. My pitiful little collection looked like an ant hill next to her. She and her son, Christopher, had gotten to the site hours before I did and set up the tent and the tables. I am a really bad booth-mate. They did ALL the heavy lifting this time around. But her side of things looked AMAZING.

Y’all, her toadstools are the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

The ladies on the opposite side of us asked, startled, about halfway through the day, “Hey, where did the head that was staring out of the house go?” Shara explained that she had sold it and they sounded relieved. I guess the only things scarier than a disembodied head staring at you all day is the sudden, unexplained disappearance of said head. We could have been really cruel and snuck it into their booth at some point.

We sold the table her succulent planters were in right away and never did find a good place to display them — I think they would have sold like hotcakes if we had.

THIS GLOBE. In Chicago, she could have sold this sucker four times by now, at three times the money she’s asking for it here. It’s HUGE. Think of the person you know with the BIGGEST HEAD and then multiply that head by five and THAT’S HOW BIG THIS GLOBE IS. Plus, it comes with its own cool mid-century lucite stand.

I didn’t even take that many pictures of my stuff because I was just kind of uninspired by it. I couldn’t get it into any kind of attractive displays…I think I was just exhausted and overwhelmed by the recent booth move.

The market sign that you see the edge of sold, by the way. I’m still bummed about that. I really loved that sign and was sad to see it go.

The night before the first day of the show I stayed up until 3 am putting together some ephemera packs. I used to sell these on eBay but got out of the habit of putting them together because they’re kind of a pain — the worst part is that you make such a huge mess assembling them, what with taking books apart, making separate stacks, and spreading everything out so you can put a little of everything into the packs. I only sold two during the Junk Ranch but I’ve got them in the booth right now and have sold several.

Things started out a little slowly on Friday for our particular booth, despite the loooooong line that had gathered prior to opening. As it turns out, most people hit our booth last, so that would account for the slow start. But about an hour in, we got slammed hard and stayed pretty busy until an hour or so before closing. We were both VERY pleased by the end of the first day — lots of more people than the year before. I even went home and looked for some more stuff to bring out…I was pretty mad at myself for not preparing better, because I think I could have made tons more money if my side of our space had been up to par. Saturday was a very slow start but, again, by an hour or an hour and a half after opening we were doing a brisk, steady business for the rest of the day. Amy did such an amazing job with it this year — the farm it was on is beautiful, plenty of parking spaces, lots of good food, AMAZING music, and she must have worked her butt off to get the word out because there were probably twice as many shoppers this year as there were last year — and I was impressed with last year’s turn out. Shara and I both agreed that it is something we DEFINITELY want to do twice a year, with our own booths. And I need to get more serious about preparing for it as well.

The week after the junk ranch — this past Saturday — we participated in the neighborhood yard sales, where I got rid of a BUNCH of stuff that had been hanging around the garage, then had a family birthday party for Justin that night. I am TIRED. But have so many ideas and plans for filling the new booth. Gotta get busy!

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. We are officially into summer, aren’t we? Hope yours is going well!

June 23, 2014 - 2:42 pm

Shara *Why oh why didn’t we hide that head in their booth. HILARIOUS!

You are so funny showing all my junk instead of your wonderful stuff! My things are so random. Yours all has class and character! I need to think of better ways to display my things so I don’t have to haul SO much stuff for that purpose. It took one crammed car load just for the fixtures, then another for the actual STUFF. I had fun and cannot believe how long I prepped for it and now it has been over for over a week already!

Your new booth looks wonderful. I am thinking about getting a bigger one – but not THAT big. I know you will do great!

June 23, 2014 - 4:30 pm

laurie magpie ethel Yours is the kind of booth I would definitely shop in and hope the move to the new spot pays off. Love seeing the shots from the show and fun to see your perspective since I had just seen Shara’s. Looks like you two have fun together.

June 23, 2014 - 7:01 pm

carol Hi, I am interested in a picture you have in your new booth. It’s in a cream frame with a pink background and says, ” though she be but little, she if fierce.” How much is it and what would shipping be to 78628? I texted Shara so she may ask b/f you read this. Thanks and I lurve your style, you and Shara make a good partnership, similar enough but different so it doesn’t seem like a booth competition.

June 23, 2014 - 8:03 pm

Lara Jo Hey, Carol! Shara and I just finished texting about this. Did you want just the print? Shara thought an 8X10, print only. If that sounds okay, I’ll invoice you here in a day or so (don’t want to charge you until I’m ready for it to go in the mail). Thanks so much for the interest, I really appreciate it! And thanks for writing!

June 23, 2014 - 8:04 pm

Lara Jo Laurie, that means a lot coming from you! I think I will get better at styling this size of booth after a month or two…it’s kind of hard right now. Shara and I have SO MUCH fun together. Don’t think I would do the Junk Ranch if I wasn’t guaranteed to have her right next to me! She’s a great booth neighbor! Thanks for writing.

June 23, 2014 - 8:34 pm

carol 8×10 is fine if that is easiest to make and ship. What size is the oblong in the booth? If it’s not much more, I might like the bigger size. My email is bonyparts64 at yahoo dot com.

June 23, 2014 - 11:02 pm

Chanelle That big booth is going to set you free while on the hunt. You can get the big game now! The mirror is perfect.
Between you and Shara’s reporting I feel like I need to get on a plane and get to that show! Fun and treasure!
Sent you an email, let’s hope it went through.
Umbrella stand with the plants! Drool!

June 24, 2014 - 6:51 am

Chanelle My email back to you did not go through. FYI.

June 24, 2014 - 9:49 am

Laurie Perfect nursery wall!! Makes me yearn for a nursery… But not a baby, so…. 😉

You are so hard on yourself – you’re doing and awesome and inspiring job!!

June 24, 2014 - 4:16 pm

Pam @ House of Hawthornes That is the perfect size booth for you. Really, when I’m out at the booth places I sort of overlook the smaller ones. I like to step inside and peak around a bit. I like your recap of the show. That head would have freaked me out too!

June 25, 2014 - 9:50 pm

Shannon LOVE your booth. Wish I was there to shop! 🙂

June 28, 2014 - 4:42 pm

Into Vintage As a busy, bigger-booth, vintage-event-vendor, MOTHER OF TWINS, I think you accomplish so much! Sometimes jumping in is the best — hope your new space brings you many, many sales. I have to agree with Ethel, I would be going through what you & Shara brought with a fine tooth comb.

PS I would also love to know more about your mad photography skillz. I need much improvement in that area.

June 29, 2014 - 12:56 am

Marci Lara Jo,
Loved loved, loved your and Shara’s Junk Ranch Booth. Such fun stuff. I told Shara, I was so sorry I missed it but I am definitely selling at the October one. I was in Fayetteville this past Monday, my daughter had orientation for college. I wanted to go to your shop SO bad but we had literally had no time. However, when I move her and her brother down in August, its on! It looks like its gonna be awesome. I am obsessed with your Pretty Quirky sign. So cute. I bet those signs fly out of there! I was sorry to hear that pull down map sold, I totally would have bought that! Good luck with all that space, totally jealous 🙂