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Junking addiction shared: Passionate collectors turn in to purposeful vendors

by Lara Jo Hightower | June 3, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.
The Morelands’ vintage autos-turned-desks can be found in restaurants, offices and retail stores across the country. (Courtesy photo)

The Junk Ranch features antique and vintage vendors from around the country, all of whom bring their own brand of flea market chic for shoppers to dig through. One thing they all have in common: a deep and abiding love for anything old, rusty and full of vintage character.

Mark and Lucy Moreland

Mark Moreland says his wife, Lucy, was the first person to get him interested in buying and selling antiques and vintage items. Twenty years later, the duo are retired -- he from a construction job, she from school administration -- and hit the road 12 to 15 times a year to sell in flea markets all around the country. In 2020, of course, covid-19 shut down most of the flea markets and selling arenas at which the couple were used to selling their wares.

"Some of our vendor friends, you know, chose to do things online [last year], but we stuck around the house, made stuff and built up our inventory," says Lucy.

That means they'll return to The Junk Ranch for their fifth show with a trailer full of vintage goods they've gathered, headlined by the show stopping desks they create out of vintage automobiles. One "clip" -- their word for the unusual desks -- is made out of a 1970 Chevy. Mark says the desks have been a hit since the beginning.

"We just got through sending one to Eufaula, Ala., that's going in a restaurant," he says. "We have them in bars in Illinois and auto part stores. There's a company out of Little Rock that has offices in Dallas, Atlanta and Las Vegas, and they've bought three of them off of us over the years. We've got them scattered all over the country. Just this year, I think we've sold nine of them already."

Though that might be the first thing that catches your eye in their booth, it's certainly not the only thing you'll see. Lucy says she puts a lot of thought into selecting items that will appeal to a multitude of shoppers.

"The Junk Ranch is where we take our good junk, because a lot of people want it," she explains. "They're looking at garden decor, they're looking at architectural pieces, they're looking at pieces that, 'Oh, Grandma had this,' and they're wanting it back.

"We always try to bring such a variety of things. We'll have things in price from $1 all the way up to $2,500 for one of our clips. And one thing we also try to do is bring something that men might be interested in, to give them something to be interested in, to collect. Mark is really good about making sure that we have those things."

"However long she's been retired -- seven years -- we've been together 24 hours, seven days a week," says Mark with a chuckle. "And we're both still alive."

Kelly Elliott, Farmchicks

The thrill of the hunt is what first drew Kelly Elliott to a business in the vintage/antiques industry.

"I've always had a desire to discover and explore, so any time I go out picking, it's a new adventure," she says. "I recently acquired a 1961 Chevy Apache pickup to go junking in with my little boy -- he's my sidekick in all junking excursions."

Elliott has sold at The Junk Ranch for several years now.

"It's by far my favorite," she says. "The atmosphere is an antique/junker's dream."

And she should know -- like most vendors, Elliott doesn't just sell vintage items, she collects them, as well.

"It might be easier to list what I don't collect!" she says. "I have an extensive collection of 'smalls' that includes tiny knives, locks, harmonicas, copper and brass. There's a bison collection, rusty old trucks, books. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few."

Junk Ranch shoppers are especially lucky this time around: Elliott is bringing her own collection of vintage and antique cameras she's decided to sell, gathered over years and years of careful shopping.

"I also will have some old signs, live edge wood pieces, and I also deal a lot in repurposed salvage items," she adds.

Jessica Doing, Cowlick Dry House

Many junk vendors also have what they consider their "day jobs," but few have managed to blend the two careers as seamlessly as Jessica Doing, whose Cowlick Dry House storefront houses both her vintage goods shop and her hair salon.

"I had done hair for 20 years, and my husband and I both loved junking," she says. "I decided I wanted to start selling it a little more. So I opened up my own place."

Doing credits the famed Round Top Flea Market in Texas for igniting her passion for junking.

"My very first trip to Round Top made me think, 'Oh, I probably have the bug for this,'" she says. "And I loved the repurposed part of it; both my husband and I really loved the repurposing of things."

Doing remembers with great fondness one of the first places she and her husband were able to find a lot of rusty, interesting junk they could recycle into useful items once more.

"We called it 'the tractor graveyard,'" she says. "This older farmer had these tractor and farm implements, very old. He just had them stored, and people came and bought parts off of them. That's really where we went when we first started [repurposing]."

Doing describes her Junk Ranch offerings as "barn finds" and primitives. She's also excited to be bringing some work from an artist she discovered in Texas.

"This is painted metal art," she explains. "It's portraits of country music singers like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr., and [the artist has] handpainted them. You never know if people are going to love something, but I love them. I bought probably 45 from him and sold them all at my store, so I decided I needed to bring those to The Junk Ranch."

Kelly Elliott, an avid vintage and antique camera collector, is bringing some items from her own well-curated collection to sell at The Junk Ranch, but that’s not all you’ll find in her booth. This eclectic vendor offers a huge variety of vintage smalls and collectibles.

(Courtesy photo)
Kelly Elliott, an avid vintage and antique camera collector, is bringing some items from her own well-curated collection to sell at The Junk Ranch, but that’s not all you’ll find in her booth. This eclectic vendor offers a huge variety of vintage smalls and collectibles. (Courtesy photo)
Jessica Doing managed to meld the two careers she’s passionate about — styling hair and hunting vintage treasures — into one business. For The Junk Ranch, she takes her show on the road to bring rusty barn finds and original art to shoppers.

(Courtesy photo)
Jessica Doing managed to meld the two careers she’s passionate about — styling hair and hunting vintage treasures — into one business. For The Junk Ranch, she takes her show on the road to bring rusty barn finds and original art to shoppers. (Courtesy photo)
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But there’s more…

Once you’ve explored all of the booths at The Junk Ranch, the fun is not over: by visiting the flea markets and antique stores of Prairie Grove and neighboring cities, you can extend the joy of the hunt.

In Prairie Grove

Daises and Olives

129 E. Buchanan St.

(479) 846-1800

Now in its 24th year, Daisies and Olives — named after the founder’s maternal and paternal grandmothers — offers more than 10,000 square feet of pure vintage fun. “We offer a full range of merchandise with something for everyone,” reads the store’s website. “You can find beautiful painted furniture, industrial, collectibles from England, a clothing boutique, gift items, farm tables, primitives and much more. And, we do love “junque”! Primitive items are our favorite and old rusty things make us so happy.” Extended store hours and outside sales are on tap for the Junk Ranch weekend, and booths will be freshly stocked with goodies.

Southern Mercantile

107 E. Buchanan St.

(479) 846-4770

Located in an historic mercantile building that dates back to 1896, the Southern Mercantile boasts 8,000 square feet of carefully curated antique furniture, bric-a-brac and ephemera. The owners preserved much of the original building, and the surroundings are as beautiful as the items housed within. Authentic antiques are the name of the game here. “We’re trying to rescue the antiques that have been lost over time to the vintage and painted look,” says Carrie Kass Nelson, whose artful styling of the store reveals beauty in every corner.

Summit Hills Cottage Shoppe

124 E. Buchanan St.

(479) 846-777

For fans of Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic style, Summit Hills Cottage Shoppe is like heaven — but as a multi-vendor store, if the chippy white aesthetic isn’t for you, there are lots of other goodies to choose from as well. For the summer months, the store is highlighting the charming porch and twin bed swings created by vendor Miss Rosie’s. The store will be serving cucumber water and lemon cookies from 12 to 4 p.m. on both days of The Junk Ranch.

The Locals Flea Market

128 E. Buchanan St.

(479) 846-6416

The Locals is a multi-vendor flea market with a variety of eclectic vintage and antique goods, as well as handmade craft items.

In Farmington

Rustic Rooster

2350 Heritage Parkway

(479) 466-3694

This large multi-vendor flea market offers a varied assortment of antiques, vintage items, clothing, furniture and toys.

Onion Creek Home

183 W. Main St.

(479) 267-0026

This gift shop offers some vintage and antique goods alongside stylish new items.

In Fayetteville

410 Vintage

410 N. College Ave.

(479) 521-2444

Half of this store is dedicated to one of the largest offerings of mid-century modern furniture in the area — but in case that’s not your thing, the other half is comprised of around 20 booths stocked by individual vendors, ensuring a wide variety of items.

Fayetteville’s Funky Flea Market

693 W. North St.

(479) 445-6545

Located in an old warehouse in the middle of Fayetteville, this two-story vintage bonanza offers customers the option to shop from more than 60 different vendors. Its stock is as wildly varying as is its customer base — located close to the University of Arkansas campus, it attracts a wide range of ages and interest areas, so it’s likely you’ll find something you can’t live without.

In Retrospect

10 E. Township St.

(479) 521-2100

This utterly charming multi-vendor flea market is so fun to browse. The experienced vendors turn over stock quickly, so you’re sure to find a brand new store just about every time you visit. There’s a little something for everyone here, and highlights include vintage clothing, gorgeous collection of vintage chandeliers, and the amazing vintage jewelry selection curated by the Olive Ave. Trading Co.

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