Just a tad late on…JUNE 2017 JUNK RANCH!

Oh, friends, you and I haven’t talked in so long. I am so disappointed in myself — this blog is eight years old, and I don’t want to let it go! I’m so impressed with folks like Shara who post on a regular basis — I don’t even have time to keep up with my old favorite blogs, much less post on my own. I know there have been gaps before, though, and I’ve come back to regular posting, so I’m hoping I can do that again. Lately, it’s been one thing after another, and June was so full that I have spent most of July catching up on the things that I put off doing in June. There was the Junk Ranch, then we had friends come in from Los Angeles to stay with us for a week, and I took a small space in Daisies and Olives for my prints an designs. OH. I haven’t mentioned yet that I regretfully gave up my booth in Daisies and Olives around February — almost four years, exactly, after I moved in. It was a sad, sad transition for me, but Martha ended up with a small space that she thought would be perfect for my prints and signs, so I moved those in at the beginning of June. Shara and I split up (sob) and no longer share a booth at Fayetteville’s Funky (don’t worry, it was a totally amicable split!) and, instead, we each have our own booth, so I have a bit more space there now, but not as big as my space was at D and O.


A lot of shifting, a lot of action, a lot of changes. I hit the year anniversary of my newspaper job, and am grateful for the opportunity to use my writing skills in such a creative way, but it does keep me very busy.

Essentially, I’m giving you a long list of excuses as to why I’ve been away for so long! But I’ll try to do better. I promise.

Now, on to the June Junk Ranch!

I left ordering my large format prints to the last minute because of my hectic schedule, so, of course, there was a hitch — they were confused by some of my orders and had sent me a question via email that went to my spam folder. My booth was about 60% prints, 40% painted signs, and it looked like those prints weren’t going to make it in time. Luckily, my good friend Kristie came to the rescue, and said she would bring enough stuff to sell to help fill my tent — she really saved my bacon, thank goodness. I made a last-minute shopping trip to Home Depot and brought home a bunch of lumber to make more signs, staying up to 2 and 3 am for about three days in a row. So I was pretty tired by the time Junk Ranch rolled around. Luckily, the adrenaline helped carry me through.

Friends, I know I always say the same things about the Junk Ranch. All the wonderful treasures to hunt. The fun atmosphere. The tasty food. The excellent music. It just keeps getting better. This year, I was honored to be asked by Amy and Julie to do several remote interviews the first morning of the sale — it meant getting to the grounds at 4:30 am, which I had never done before, but it was so lovely and peaceful, seeing it all set up and ready to go, but being one of only five or six people on the premises. We did around four or five interviews over the course of about two-and-a-half hours, and once the first or second were over, I felt a little bit more comfortable, but it was pretty nerve-wracking to be doing live interviews that early in the morning! However, talking about one of my favorite things made it a bit easier. By 8 a.m., it was all over, and people had been filtering in for about an hour. Soon, the grounds were hopping, and Shara, Kristie and I were putting the finishing touches on our booth.

Shara was to the right of my booth, but there was a large, two-lot spot on my left that stayed empty until right before we opened at 10 am — around 9 am, the folks who were going to be in the booth rolled up and assembled an incredibly professional-looking booth in what seemed like five minutes.  All painted signs. Hundreds of them. Our styles/quotes didn’t overlap at all, though, so, as they were setting up, I thought, it’s different enough stuff that there’s room enough for both of us here! (Julie and Amy are very careful about this kind of thing, BTW — they are very vendor-oriented and take great pains to separate booths that have similar items. This was just a fluke, probably caused by this vendor’s change in merchandise.)  But their set-up and display kicked my ass and really pointed out the deficiencies in my whole set up.  I was not equipped for a competition of this magnitude! I was…ill-prepared. I just had my signs leaning up against tent poles and odds and ends of furniture Kristie was selling. Nothing was displayed professionally, or even in a way that made it easy to see all of the different styles I had to offer. It kind of looked like this, all over my booth.

It was real wake-up call that I need to up my display game!

I only sold a few signs the first day, which was unusual, because usually my over-sized signs sell within the first couple of hours of the show. The second day, I brought a ladder in, and figured out that the signs could stack and display really well that way.

So that helped a bit, but this next shot kind of gives you an idea of what I was up against — you can see their signs looming above mine in the background. It kind of cracks me up to look at this picture. It was a little like having a booth next to Hobby Lobby. 🙂

Yeahhhhh…so not the greatest time to have had to make my booth mostly painted signs and nothing else!

(Let me say that these are lovely folks. They were more organized and prepared and savvy with presentation than I was. I was bummed at myself for not putting more planning time in.)

It wasn’t just next door to me, either — the sign craze has spread to several other booths, so I’m going to have to do some thinking between now and October to figure out how I can make mine different from the pack. I just love making them so much — I find designing them and the actual painting of them to be so relaxing. It’s the perfect thing for me to do while I’m watching TV, so I don’t feel like I’m being lazy or wasting time! So I want to figure out a way to make selling them more viable. Stay tuned!

And now for some other booth pictures…

Shara did her usual, majestic set up — I’ve said it before, but she essentially sets a whole store right down on that field. She packs ten times more into her 10X10 booth than anyone else can even imagine. And she always gets such interesting customers who have such emotional reactions to her items.

I wanted this cow. Sadly, it sold before I could lay claim to it.

Look at that amazing wreath.

And now some shots from around the show…

The next three shots are the work of Tiffany Foster Smith of The Painted Jackalope. I love her work so much. She has a new booth in the Southern Mercantile on Buchanan Ave. in Prairie Grove. And if you haven’t been THERE yet, you must get there ASAP. I need to take my camera there sometime soon and do a post about it.

I loved this dress!  It was at a beautiful booth called Postmark Vintage. The woman whose booth it was said that she bought the dress from a lady who told her she wore it to her very first dance. She even had a photo of herself in it. Love.

The next photo is from East to West, a mobile art gallery. The woman who painted these is so young to be so talented. I wish I could remember her name! She and her family took her grandfather’s hunting trailer and turned it into a showcase for her art. They were such a sweet family.  She also had portraits as well, and I am so mad at myself for not getting some shots of those. They were incredible. Her cows sold out so quickly.

Ranch hands, working hard as always!


This beauty was sitting across from us for two full days, so I had to gaze at its gloriousness for 48 hours. I didn’t even check the price tag. I didn’t want to tempt myself!

This woman has a booth down from us. She started coming to the Junk Ranch a year or so ago, and when I first saw her I immediately recognized her as a woman who had outbid me (and everyone else) time and time again at an Oklahoma auction about four months before. MY NEMESIS. But she has such great stuff with such great prices that I completely forgave her her transgressions. 🙂 I really wanted both of these shelves.

One of my favorites — Lynette from Okies and Indies! All of this is hand lettering. She does custom work during the show so you can see her as she’s working. Justin read about my adoration for her on the blog and commissioned her to make a necklace for me — her work tends towards the religious, so he shyly asked her if there were any quotes that she wouldn’t feel comfortable using. I can’t imagine what she thought he was going to ask her for! But all he wanted was a phrase from Green Day’s “She’s a Rebel”. It turned out so beautifully.

How most shoppers feel about the Junk Ranch, in photographic representation:

So another one is in the bag! And the next one will be here before you know it…lots to think about. In the meantime, I promise to try and post more often.

Hope your summer has been happy and full of great junk!


July 20, 2017 - 11:03 am

carol staton Hey Lara, great post on TJR. I know you and Shara work super hard on this show and your work and set ups are amazing. Shows in our area are highly “juried” and hardly ever are two booths the same merch. Hopefully TJR will check into the couple’s booth and see if they represented themselves on the application one way and then displayed the pre-made signs. Just seems very intentional on their part, knowing they were right next to you and what you offer. You have a very kind heart and it is awesome that you seem so forgiving.

July 20, 2017 - 11:21 am

Suzanne Hi there- I’ve been following your blog since you were in IL (I remember the Vintage Bazaar!), and in reading this entry I am IN LOVE with that horizontal painting of the flowers! We just found out we’re pregnant with our first, and this would be an amazing addition to the nursery-to-be. Do you ship items? Is that even possible for a painting like that? Hoping there’s a potential option in sight!

July 20, 2017 - 3:49 pm

Linda @ A La Carte It was great to read your take on Junk Ranch! I always enjoy seeing what you and Shara get up too. Love your photos. Junk Ranch is on my bucket list…someday I hope!

July 20, 2017 - 10:50 pm

Ree Cee I’m so glad you’re back because we out here in blog land missed you! I know how crazy it can get – but that’s OK – you’re here now! I read Shara’s blog and was so excited to see you had a post ready to read!

Let me just say you’re signs are absolutely beautiful! Now I’m sure your vendor neighbors are “lovely” but let’s be honest here – they totally blind sided you. They saw you selling your butt off last year and wanted in on the action. I get it – everyone wants to make bank. But you just don’t do that, especially to someone who is YOUR NEIGHBOR. Gheeze! You took the high road – which makes YOU the lovely one!

Wow – those cow paintings are sweeeet! Thanks for posting other booth photos – so much good junk!!!

Welcome back!

July 20, 2017 - 10:56 pm

Shara Excellent take on the Junk Ranch as always. It seems like we are always recovering or getting ready for another one! October will be here before we know it. You always have the best signs because they are different and fun. And you have a cult following! Everyone out there does a lot of the same stuff, so we just have to put our own “spin” on it. Thanks for the love – you always make my junk look spectacular! (Also, that cow was the very first item that I sold and it was an awful experience and almost ruined the day for me. SO I WISH YOU WOULD HAVE TAKEN IT!)