When I was a kid, it seemed like there was a “junk store” on every corner in every small town across America. Out front were old wooden chairs, piles of rusty tools, bicycles in various stages of disrepair…… Inside nothing was organized and most items weren’t priced. Half of the stuff was unidentifiable……who knew what it really was or where it came from. They were a veritable treasure trove of rusty, nostalgic whatsits. You could spend hours in there digging through piles and shelves or just shooting the breeze with the old-timer behind the counter.
What happened to them all? Where did they go? Doesn’t anyone care about junk anymore? Today you can find “thrift” stores galore. Most of them are over-priced and have mainly items that the former owner was just too lazy to haul to the landfill. You can find antique stores in abundance. But where did the junk stores go?
There are big differences between junk stores, antique stores and thrift stores. Antique stores are those places that you go into and love to look at all of the goodies from years gone by but can rarely afford to actually purchase any of them. From time to time you might find that smokin’ deal in that little out-of-the-way antique shop, but generally they’re out of the realm of what you can afford…..or at least what you can justify.
Thrift stores have morphed tremendously over the last decade. It used to be that thrift stores had shirts for a dime and shoes for a quarter. You could get a new blender for under a dollar. These days shirts are more like $3.oo and you can’t even touch a small appliance for less than around $5. I’m not knocking thrift stores, mind you. I still frequent them and still find good deals. You have just be selective. These days it seems like half the stuff in the “thrift” stores is pure garbage……and I don’t mean junk……I mean garbage. Thrift stores are generally pretty well-organized into categories…..clothes, books, kitchen items, toys…….. They have tidy little displays and items generally have prices on them. But junk stores…….these were a different animal. No organization, no prices, no hours,….and a story behind most items that the old-timer would LOVE to spend 3 hours sharing with you. You could barter for things and the asking price was almost always negotiable. The negotiating was half the fun. They were educational places. They were places to bond. I remember going to junk stores with Dad when I was a kid. He always knew what all of those obscure whatchamajiggers were. It was so much fun!
I miss junk stores.