A Fresh Face in JunkAugust 9th, 2008 in blog
While traveling the country I have the distinct honor of meeting and getting to know many wonderful vendors. Flea market and antique show vendors are zestfully full of life and have more funny tales than you can shake a stick at. I’ve noticed of late that something fresh is happening in the marketplace. What is this new market phenomenon that puts an ear-to-ear grin upon my face? The kids are coming! Not only are they attending the shows, but they are also putting their own special youthful twist in the land of vendors. I had the pleasure of meeting one such young entrepreneur at the Marburger Farm Antique Show this spring. Let’s hear what she has to say!
How old are you now and how long have you been a vendor?
I am 27 years old, I have been a vendor at Marburger Farm Antique Show by myself for the Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 shows, but had been with my father for about 4 years before that.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
Yes I do consider myself an entrepreneur. Once I found my niche in the Carnival Memorabilia and bought all of the remaining items from St. Louis Carnival Supply that went out of business I decided to start The Shop Antiques.
What or whom was the driving force behind your decision to take the plunge in to the junking underworld?
Well first I would have to say my dad. He has been in the junking world for the past 18 years. I really started to learn about antiques when my parents started Eilene’s Country Charm and Tea Room in Coldspring, Texas in the early 1990s. I enjoyed meeting and greeting all the customers that came to shop and eat. I remember riding around in his old rugged pick up trucks, “dumpster diving" and searching in old neighborhood trash days for old junk. Second, about two years ago, I started finding and seeing a few carnival games and signs around at the different shows that my dad and I went to. They would always catch my eye and I’d have to buy them. Everyone I bought I would sell at the next show. From there, I decided to start collecting only carnival, amusement park and circus memorabilia.
You said something while we were dining on junk food that made me giggle. Please explain what you mean by “cornering the market.”
First, you never see a booth having a single theme, do you? Nobody has all the same type of merchandise. For about a year before I started doing my own booth, I put out a handful of carnival items and they would always sell—people liked them. So I would think to myself, “why I don’t do a booth with just fun stuff?” I have always loved games, carnivals, amusement parks, and the circus.
Second, though I feel that my junk is great for any age group, 75% of my customers are in their 20s and 30s. What I bring at my shows is more modern than country style. But you can still go with any style you want to create, whether you are young or just young-at-heart!
Buying enough merchandise can be expensive. How did you fund your venture?
Well this is a funny story! I used to work at my dad’s warehouse from 5 PM till 10 PM every night after my regular job in order to buy junk. However, once I got hooked, I had to really start thinking how was I going to afford it. When I came across the St. Louis Carnival Supply Company’s inventory for sale I went deep in the pockets and used all my savings. But I knew that others like me would enjoy all of this just as much as I do!
What, for you is the best part of this business?
Watching all of my visitors faces and seeing their smiles. I especially enjoy when they tell me carnival stories and all the memories they have. You have to love what you do in order for others to love it too!
What has presented the most difficulty for you?
Sometimes one month you can’t find any new carnival junk and the next month you can’t afford it!
Do you recommend this avenue of self-employment to others your age?
Yes, if you find your niche and love it, then go for it! It can be very profitable and FUN!
As you can tell Mandie is a pretty darned savvy JUNKMARKETEER. I hope you have enjoyed learning about Mandie and her business as much as I have. To learn more visit www.theshopantiques.com .
posted in: blog, texas, junkmaster, interview