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Justifying junk: Two-day market offers repurposed décor, salvaged antiques

Maria Bosak collected items from a rural farm for Eco Chic Boutique in south Fargo. Carrie Snyder / The Forum
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WEST FARGO - One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or, in today’s parlance, one person’s crap is another person’s craft.
In this age of repurposing and upcycling, items that have been collecting dust for years are now fetching good dollars by those looking to decorate with character.
“Junking is all the rage now,” says Maria Bosak, who is organizing the Junk Market Sept. 19-20 at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.
Friday and Saturday’s event brings vendors from across the tri-state area to sell repurposed furniture, salvaged antiques and odds and ends that could be used in home décor. Artisans selling crafts like jewelry as well as candles and soap will also set up.
“It’s not your grandmother’s craft show,” Bosak says.
While she didn’t know what exactly would be at the event, she said popular items at previous shows have been re-painted or re-upholstered furniture, old metal letters and old architectural elements, like windows, doors and porch columns.
“Stuff that seems like crappy junk to most people, that’s been cleaned and made into something artistic,” Bosak explains.
Walking through her own store, Eco Chic Boutique, she points to a wooden pallet hanging from the ceiling and housing lights as an example. She’s seen another pallet handsomely made into an upright shoe rack.
Light fixtures are trending now. Carrie Brusven, the VP at Eco Chic, recalls a chandelier made out of reused bottles.
“It’s amazing what you can turn into a light,” Brusven says.
While home decorating shows and magazines have elevated shabby-chic nationally, Bosak says communities close to old farms are fertile land for vintage finds.
“We’re in a great area for it,” she says. “It’s grown as a competition. More people see a value in the stuff and are finding it, and prices have risen.”
Still, some popular items are affordable. Walking through her own store, Eco Chic Boutique, she says old milk bottles can go for a few dollars.
She adds that value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. She recalls a recent auction where she landed a classic couch while a group of men bid up each other over car parts.
Bosak started buying at auctions, but as she became more of a presence, people started coming to her.
She walks out to her truck, fresh from a junking visit. The trailer she’s pulling is loaded with chairs and tables and other bits of furniture, but the back of her vehicle is filled with antique aerator discs, milk canisters, metal buckets, tractor seats and wheels.
“Once you’re known for selling stuff, people will call to sell you stuff,” she says.
Supply and demand
There’s so much demand for finding used and maybe even abused goods that the event is held twice a year and now over two days, Friday and Saturday.
The event nearly tripled its vendors from around 30 last year to 81 this year.
And it isn’t done growing. Bosak would like to bring in some HGTV personalities to speak at future events.
Interest is so strong that the Junk Market offers a limited number of early bird passes, which allow entrance at 8 a.m. Friday, two hours before the doors open to general admission.
At this spring’s event there was a line of people waiting to get in and traffic was backed up.
Held the day before Mother’s Day, the spring marketplace attracted about 3,000 visitors, prompting Bosak to stretch it out over two days and three buildings this time.
Even with the added day, customers should still find plenty to peruse. Vendors are juried to assure quality – even in their junk. Vendors must also be able to restock their space for the second day.
And yes, haggling is OK at the Junk Market, she says.
But be warned.
“They’re like hungry carnivores,” she says of junk shoppers. “They get a little feisty.”


If You Go

WHAT: Fall Junk Market
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 19 and 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Sept. 20
where: North entrance of the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, 1805 Main Ave., W., West Fargo
INFO: $5 per day or $20 for early-bird tickets which allows 8 a.m. entry on Friday.


For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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