IT’S GOOD TO KNOW eBAY HASN’T KILLED IT OFF ENTIRELY. I’m talking about junking — the time-honored act of rising early and heading out to flea markets and yard sales to find old, cheap, secondhand stuff that is dinged and dented and rusted and otherwise in dire need of fixing up to turn it into something useful and charming and possibly even re-sellable.
I started junking more than thirty years ago, which only goes to show how old I am. (We were more likely to call it antiquing then — in those days, you might actually find something genuinely old for 50 cents or a dollar.) But to judge by the number of blogs about junking, and a new magazine, Flea Market Style, that debuts today, the pursuit of junk is alive and well, eBay be damned.
Personally, I no longer have the patience to turn tea kettles into lamps or doll beds into coffee tables, let alone drive hundreds of miles in search of maybe nothing. I’m jaded from years of beating the bushes here on the Eastern seaboard, while pickings got thinner and thinner — although the epicenter of today’s junking craze seems to be the heartland, where barns and attics are probably still full of desirable junk.
I’m also weary, perhaps, from three decades of writing about antiques and collecting and flea markets. I must have written forty “10 Hottest Collectible” stories. Meanwhile, Country Living magazine is still reporting on Lucite purses and wrought iron lawn furniture and restaurant china and Blenko glass as if they’re fresh discoveries. I guess, to young people, they are.
I was even half the team that created and produced an outdoor flea market in downtown Manhattan, Soho Fleas, in 1973 — so believe me, I know my way around junk. And jaded and cranky as I am, I can still muster a flicker of enthusiasm for the idea of taking a field trip this September to Junk Bonanza, a three-day annual junk round-up held in Shakopee, Minnesota (it’s the brainchild of Ki Nissauer, who is also co-editor of the new magazine).
Once you’ve got junk in your system, it’s hard to get it out.