After the Mobster Junk Shop refused to sell me anything, I swore I would never go back.  I swore right out loud, in multiple phone calls, to my poor mother who probably thought she was talking to a teenager again- “Why won’t he call me?!”  Instead, I was yelling, “Why won’t they sell anything to me?!  Can you believe this??  Have you heard of anything like this?”  No, neither of us had ever heard of anything like this.  Obviously, my education in the junk world was just beginning…

Junk, Junk Mobsters, Junk Shopping, Junk Addicts, Junk Addicts Unite, Boutique

My education began when I noticed there were two categories of shops in the Junk World- the first of which included the normal antique malls and Shabby Chic boutiques in cute little historic downtowns- the kind where a customer picks a sparklingly clean item (because the savvy shop owner did the scrubbing, free of charge) and pay the exact price on the tag.

Junk, Junk Mobsters, Junk Shopping, Junk Addicts, Junk Addicts Unite

Customers will never be declined the opportunity to buy anything unless there is a polite NFS (not for sale) sign hanging on the item and with that sign comes acceptance and you shrug and move on.  Customers leave these stores with a pretty shopping bag and their clothes are exactly as they were when they walked in the beautiful front door of this fine establishment…and they smell the same, too.  I love these kinds of shops because they are truly inspiring- the way items are displayed, the trends that shop owners are closely following or even setting and all the ideas…I always leave these stores with a head full of inspiration for future projects.

Junk, Junk Mobsters, Junk Shopping, Junk Addicts, Junk Addicts Unite

I also have to mention the shop owners- they are delightful and, if prompted, will speak about their experiences in every part of the Junk World.  They are treasure troves of hard won lessons and advice.

The other category holds all of  the shops that looked like they’re condemned- and a special place in my heart.

Junk, Junk Mobsters, Junk Shopping, Junk Addicts, Junk Addicts Unite

These businesses can’t help but be judged by their covers but don’t be fooled- a full fledged long term business, that has outlasted any shiny Shabby Chic boutique, is running out of that building that is sitting on the most valuable or sought after piece of land in the city.  These business owners can quote the latest traffic numbers of cars that are traveling by their shops and they absolutely know the value, based on the current and upcoming trends, of every piece of rusty crusty junk in the four-sometimes three-corners of their empire.

Junk, Junk Mobsters, Junk Shopping, Junk Addicts, Junk Addicts Unite

These shops are the special guests of the prayers of every municipal government that the business will one day fall into the soft bed, made especially for them, at the bottom of a sink hole.  When you walk through these particular shops, the floor creaks under foot and you better learn how to walk lightly in case the rotten floor, hidden under an old rug, disappears from underneath you.  Tetanus shots are a must and so is a first aid kit and straight bleach for your hands once you extract yourself from the bowels of the best picking trip EVER.

Junk, Junk Mobsters, Junk Shopping, Junk Addicts, Junk Addicts Unite

These types of shops are owned and operated by the Veterans, the Old Guards, the men and women who have been in the Junk World for forever and have grown a vast network of fellow Junkies, junk friends and family in the area, the city, the state and sometimes across the US.

When you walk into their shop- as a rookie- they are instantly suspicious and will let you know, quick, fast and in a hurry, that you a guest in their world.  When you walk up to the counter to buy your arm load of treasures, they expect you to know what the item is worth, what you’re going to do with it (decorate your home or resell it) and haggle accordingly.  Don’t think about messing it up- if the deal was already good and you didn’t recognize it- don’t be surprised to find the front door being shut in your face.  Good luck with the negotiations, too.  These Junk Veterans are world class make-a-car-salesman-cry hagglers.  Just know that you have been outmatched before the game even began.

Junk, Wooden Sled, metal bucket

But also know this:  there will come a time that you, too, will develop that sparkle in your eye and become a formidable foe, a worthy opponent…and suddenly you have earned your stripes and the right to be among them and that is when your true journey through the Junk World will begin.

Oh, and how fun it is.

Rusty Maple Leaf

That being said, with only my smallest toe in the doorway to the Junk World- I was receiving a beginners education in the world of junk and I mistakenly decided that I would just go ahead and cross that junk shop off my growing list.  If the Junk Mobsters weren’t selling junk to me, then they weren’t selling their junk to anyone, right?



  1. Nikki
    January 29, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Funny lot aren’t they? I love when they tell you that the project you had in mind won’t work, or it will never sell. Hey I sold a pallet table, surely I can join their club? Nope, there must be some other secret initiation I’m still to discover!

    • bernadette
      January 29, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Nikki- I think there is a secret to this and I think, just to make things complicated, that it is different for each junk shop owner. I found a common thread, though, among all of them that I hope to shed some light on in the next two upcoming posts…thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  2. Jill
    January 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Please do share, it feels like school lunch all over again sometimes, except “have money, will buy” seems like it shoul get you somewhere?

    • bernadette
      January 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Jill- you would think the whole “money talks” and being willing to pay would be the ultimate solution…but, no. I will be sure to share what’s worked for me in the next two posts. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email!

  3. Sandy
    January 29, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I think it’s like trying to buy something from a hoarder! They are attached to THEIR junk. I think all junk addicts can relate to that in a weird way! The fun is learning about that owner and building a relationship. Sometimes you learn things more valuable than the junk itself. 🙂

    • bernadette
      January 29, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Sandy- You’re a natural AND you’re absolutely right! There’s two more parts to the Junk Mobster series and you’ve already hit the nail right on the head!

  4. Derek
    January 30, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Great article and cool perspective on different personalities in the junkster worlds. Haha

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