When I’m going on a junkin trip, I have a list of “must haves” that I make sure I take along with me. I don’t take any extras I don’t need because I don’t want the added weight, so if they are on my list, they are what I consider to be necessities (at least for me). This is my full list but if I’m doing a local trip to a smaller facility, I usually don’t take my cart, bungees, etc so you can tailor this list to fit your trip plans.
Preparing for the trip…
*Clean out the car so you have plenty of room for everything you are going to buy (kid’s backpacks, sports chairs, ice chests…you know all of the random crap we tend to lug around daily). This may seem insignificant, but for me…twice it’s been the difference between me fitting everything in my car or having to call for backup (my husband or my daughter’s boyfriend to come with a truck and bail me out) neither of which time were they thrilled to “save me” from my own shopping experience.
*Pack/load your list of items (list info below) – I do this often enough it’s simply more efficient for me to have all of these items always packed and ready to go so I really never spend more than 5 minutes preparing for my outing because I can just grab it and go.
*Get cash at an ATM (I usually do it the night before because I’m not an early riser). Sometimes there will be an ATM located where you are going but it’s not typically right where you need it to be when you run out of cash and you will waste a good amount of time back tracking and hunting one down, so it’s better to have more than enough cash on hand.
*Switch purses – It is a pain to carry a large purse packed with items you don’t need for this specific adventure to tote around all day. I would not risk leaving my daily purse in my car while I was junkin in the event of theft, so I leave it at home and take a light weight crossbody purse and only put my essentials in it (detailed list below).
*Oh yea…and get gas before you head out or you will be walking to a gas station like Julie and I did on the way to Waco LOL my bad!
What to wear (I basically wear the same type of outfit that I wear when working in the yard or gardening)…
*Sports bra – If you wear a regular bra you will be miserable and feel gross in this Texas heat. I don’t need to elaborate, you know exactly what I mean.
*Cotton tank top – (I’m assuming the weather is hot…which it most likely is in the Houston region). I personally cannot stand sleeves when I’m melting and need every bit of breeze I can get on long junkin days. I’m picky about the material as well…I only want a cotton blend because I want to be as comfortable as I can be. I suggest more form fitting tops and nothing too loose or flowy that can easily get hung up on sharp edges/metal/etc.
*Cotton shorts – Mama Bear wears jeans…nope not this girl, I can’t do jeans in his heat. Wear whatever you are comfortable in!
*Socks and tennis shoes – DO NOT wear flip flops or any other type of sandals. You never know what you will be climbing on or walking through on your junkin adventure nor do you know if you will be on loose gravel, unlevel ground, etc. Be prepared. You will either risk injury or miss out on good stuff because you weren’t prepared to walk through the trenches of junk piles.
*Hat or visor – This may not apply to everyone, but I’ll have a lobster red forehead the rest of the week if I don’t cover it. It also helps keep the sun out of my eyes and hair out of my face so I can see better in the direct sun.
What to pack in your crossbody…
*Rubberband (if your hair is long enough) – There’s simply nothing more annoying than your rubberband breaking and you not having access to a way to put your hair up while you’re junkin.
*ID, debit card, cash, phone and I usually bring sunscreen lip balm so I can reapply a few times.
*Pen and a mini spiral (the super small kind) – You will need this to keep a list of everything you bought and how much you paid for it (if you are junkin for business purposes). If you only buy a few items, you may remember what you paid for every single item at the end of the day, but if you shop like I do…it’s just too much to try and memorize. About half of the junkin places I go will issue a receipt…the other half won’t, so I use my spiral list for tax purposes as well. If you are hunting for specific items, use a page in the spiral to write your list so you don’t forget what all you are on the hunt for when you become overwhelmed with all of the “stuff”. If there are any specific dim requirements, be sure to note that as well and bring a mini tape measure in your crossbody. Yes, you can use the notepad on your phone of course, but after my phone died (even when I start with a full charge) a few times on my trips, I decided to go old school and not rely on it and save the battery charge for pics.
*Ziplock baggie with baby wipes (or a travel pack) – Your hands will be unbelievable dirty as you rummage through junk and you will want wipes to clean them before you eat or drink anything. They are also a nice refresher when I’m feeling icky.
*Travel size deodorant – I usually apply mine several times while I’m out junkin. I don’t like feeling yucky all day if you can’t tell, so if that doesn’t bother you like it does me…you can probably pack a little lighter than I do, but I simply cannot/will not go junkin without deodorant and wipes.
What to pack in general…
*Your own shopping bags – This is probably the most important item on the entire list…don’t forget your bags! You may get lucky and have a seller have bags for you, but most likely they are plastic grocery sacks that are already worn and will tear easily and aren’t good to hold anything with sharp edges or heavier items. I usually carry one tote bag and have several other bags folded up inside of it.
*Rolling cart and bungees – I only take these on all day or longer trips. If I’m going somewhere that I can park close to where I’m buying, I don’t need these and can just carry my items out. I’ve used a few different carts but this one has been the most user friendly and is my favorite. It also collapses for easy storage. I purchased it at Academy.
*Work gloves – These come in handy if you are digging through piles of wood, old metal pieces, etc. It never fails if I don’t bring them…I end up with a splinter killing me the rest of the day. Better safe than sorry on this one! This is a tetanus shot waiting to happen…
*Sunscreen and/or bug spray – Again…I’m assuming you are junkin in Southern Texas where we apply bug spray daily like we do deodorant. I apply these in the parking lot when I get there and leave them in the car when I’m done so I don’t have to carry them around with me all day.
While you are junkin tips…
*If you purchase large items you have to go back and pick up on your way out, take their business card and write on the back of it what items you are coming back for or take a pic of the items you are coming back for as well as the booth so you can find it again. It never hurts to get the dealers phone # in the event you can’t find it.
*If using a cart, bring bungees and use them to help secure your load to the cart when it starts to exceed the cart wall height (which won’t take long).
What to look for and where to look…
I have a short list of things I’m always looking for of course like these items but everyone has a different objective and is on the hunt for something different.
Look everywhere…high, low, underneath and behind everything. This is a pretty time consuming process, but it’s how you find the good stuff. The best finds are never sitting out where you can easily see them. If they were, the person before you would have purchased them. If you want to find the best junk…you must be willing to get your hands dirty and do some digging. Here’s a pic from a local junk trip I made this week. What do you see worth purchasing?
After digging through this entire side of junk, I only purchased one item from this area. It wasn’t anything that could even be seen in this picture. In fact, it wasn’t visible even if you were walking around this side looking. When I started moving doors and looking behind things, I found this great piece! Score!
When most people are browsing junk stores, they are usually looking at eye level and everything below that. Don’t forget to look UP! There’s a lot of great stuff up there, that most people walk right by because there is so much to look at.
This next tip is useful not only for junkin, but is even something I tell customers in the store at Legacy to do. Anytime there is an overwhelming amount of product to browse, you will always see the most by walking the store thoroughly one direction and then when you have completed your round, start at the end and walk it the opposite direction all the way back through again. By doing this, you will see many items you completely missed on the first round, simply because you are coming from a different angle and you will see different sides of items that you didn’t see before.
The best part about junkin is coming home with the unexpected finds you weren’t looking for but knew they had potential when you saw them. In fact, if you go only looking for specific items, your trip won’t be much fun because it’ll be frustrating hunting for hours upon end to find very specific items due to it being such a gamble that you’ll find something on your list. Most of the items I buy are not turnkey pieces but they have good bones and inspire me to turn them into something more than what they are in their present condition. You just never know what you’re going to find! A few questions I ask myself when deciding to buy something…
1. Is it awesome and unique?
2. Does it inspire me to turn it into something? Do I have a vision for it already?
3. If I end up not doing anything with it…will it be easy to resell and recover my investment?
Here are some things I picked up recently that weren’t “on my list” per say, but exciting and inspiring pieces nonetheless!
When you get home…
I had to learn this one the hard way, but do yourself a favor and take it from me…DO NOT bring your junk into your home to clean it. Clean it outside, clean it in the garage…I don’t care where you clean it as long as it isn’t inside your home. You have NO idea what you are going to find hiding inside your junk finds. In this case, we found a Momma Black Widow with lots and lots of babies hiding in a corner. It was a tragic evening that resulted in me putting a brand new hot pink $200 vacuum cleaner curbside for the trash man and nightmares about what I had brought into my house for months. Don’t even go there…clean it outside. #momfail
So how do you know if you’re hitting the “good” junkin spots…the ones that aren’t heavily shopped by everyone else?? After hundreds of junkin outings over the last few years, I’ve found the deciding factor that has consistently proven to be true. Are there stray cats running around in the piles of junk? Yes, you read that right. Any stray cats jumping out (nearly giving you a heart attack) because you are digging through their “home”? If not…you haven’t quite made it to the “big time” yet but no worries, you are well on your way! If that doesn’t make sense to you yet or you haven’t had a similar experience, then don’t worry, it’s only a matter of time. When it does happen…you will find peace in knowing that you have finally found the heart of good junk in your area.
Another way to determine your junkin success level is to look at your car when you’re done. If it looks like this on a regular basis…you’ve achieved Master Junkin status (a term I prefer over the word “hoarding”) 😉
Last but not least…
When possible…take a skinny friend or junior high/high school aged kid with you! Yes, I am “for real”. Who else can squeeze down these insanely narrow paths to scope out the awesome junk that the other 98% of the population couldn’t physically access? Certainly not me! Find a 2% friend and let them tag along, you will be glad you did when they can reach the stuff no one else could that week!
Plus there’s something in it for them! Little people will literally be MIND BLOWN by all of the “cool stuff” these places have…like rotary phones! They will even think you are super smart when you have to show them how to operate one 😉