Duluth Junk Hunt fills niche

Every year, Emily Broman of Duluth heads for the big Junk Bonanza in the Twin Cities, a three-day event featuring vintage finds, shabby chic d?cor and repurposed items.

Jester lamp
This jester lamp being sold by Ted and Vanessa Osborn (right) was crafted in the mid-1950s. The Osborns own Mattie's Menagerie in Bemidji and were setting up Thursday for the Duluth Junk Hunt at the Encounter. (Bob King /
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Every year, Emily Broman of Duluth heads for the big Junk Bonanza in the Twin Cities, a three-day event featuring vintage finds, shabby chic décor and repurposed items.

"I just love it," she said. "Our house is decorated in things vintage."

She realized Duluth didn't have anything like it that brought together purveyors of the trend and the shoppers who love it. So she started the Duluth Junk Hunt, which will be held today and Saturday at the Encounter building, 201 E. First St. in downtown Duluth.

"I thought there was a market for it up here," Broman said. "I thought there was a need for it. There's a huge following of this new decorating style."

By the event's growth, it appears she was right.


The first semi-annual Duluth Junk Hunt that she held last spring featured seven vendors and drew about 500 people. This show, which costs $4 to get in, will have more than 20 vendors. The turnout also is expected to triple, with 1,000 to 2,000 people anticipated.

Broman says prices will be affordable,

"You can find something for a couple of dollars or spend $75 for a furniture piece," she said. "But it's not outrageous, it's affordable."

Most of the vendors have their own shops or occasional sales. Some are independent antique dealers. Some even have national recognition, after being featured in Country Living or other magazines, Broman said.

Local vendors include the Serendipity shop in Duluth, Snowman Hill in rural Duluth and The Attic in Cloquet.

Interior decorator Maggie Flowers will even have a booth.

"She's a surprise to me," Broman said. "She has a collection of vintage finds of her own. She has a whole barn full of things that she doesn't sell in her shop. She has a side interest in vintage stuff."

Broman has gotten into it, too. She and her husband not only decorate their home in the style but have become collectors who are starting to convert their finds to new uses.


Some of the offerings -- like 1950s lamps, old advertising signs and vintage jewelry -- can just be fun. Some, like old pane windows, wooden doors and wire locker baskets, can be cleaned up, painted and repurposed for new uses.

"They're very creative," Broman said of the vendors. "They have an idea, they take something old and turn it into something functional."

It's a decorating style that some say gained momentum during the economic recession.

"Instead of going to a department store, you can take something antique or vintage and have something with more character to it," Broman said.

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