Julie Kearns, finder and founder of Junket
, breathes new life into discarded things. Finding unwanted clothes, furniture, decor, and all sorts of other items, she cleans them up and turns them into something that people desire. This ability to re-invent is what launched her business venture two years ago. Recently divorced with a new baby, she needed a way to support her family. While she says she wouldn’t wish her experience on anyone, it was one of the best things that happened to her. It was the catalyst that launched her new career path as an entrepreneur.
A Burgeoning Antiques Corridor
Kearns had looked at several retail spaces in Longfellow, but decided on Minnehaha Avenue because of the growing number of antique businesses already on the corridor. Since vintage and antique stores carry such unique items, there really isn’t a competition between shops. She is excited about the potential for Minnehaha, and she sees it becoming a destination for vintage and antique items. Working together with other business owners, she hopes they can grow the area into a hot spot for vintage shopping.
Initially, Kearns planned on having the store open one weekend per month. However, with the overwhelmingly positive response she’s received, Junket will be open twice a month (and is open four weekends in December). This level of enthusiasm and the growth of the business has been the biggest surprise for Kearns. “…Not that I didn’t think it would happen, but just how quickly it has happened. We are spreading the word through Facebook, the mailing list, and we are getting people from all over,” said Kearns. Recently she even sold items to Mad Men for props in season six. However, Kearns can’t see herself keeping the store open full time. “I like creating events….Junket is a festive event,” said Kearns. She is considering hosting other types of events at Junket, including days where people can come and work on creative projects, or using it as a rental space for intimate gatherings. While she’s not exactly sure what Junket will become, she knows she wants it to be a gathering space for the community. “I’m just paying attention to opportunities as they come along,” said Kearns.
A Lifetime of Thrifting
Kearns has had many years to hone her skills of seeing potential in unwanted items. At the age of twelve, she had to start buying her own clothes, and she learned quickly that she could get more clothes and find more interesting pieces at thrift stores. When she began selling her treasures, she realized there was a market for them. Initially, she staged her home for vintage sales and word of the sales spread by word of mouth. The success of these sales drove her decision to move into a retail space. “I had outgrown my house….If I could drive that much traffic to my house, it would be worth it to find a space, and the income could more than cover it,” said Kearns. She adds, “It’s really taken on a life of its own.”
Kearns finds items for Junket at a variety of places, including thrift stores that sell items by the pound, on the last day of estate sales, and church rummage sales. More recently she’s started dumpster diving. Kearns’ is quite open about where she finds her merchandise. “I want to be honest about where things come from,” she said. Her ability to devote time to searching for treasures and eye for what can be re-purposed is what customers find valuable. “If someone needs vintage stamps for a project, they don’t have to go running all over to find them, they can just pick them up at my store,” said Kearns.
“Bootstrapping Takes Intestinal Fortitude”
Kearns’ seemingly boundless energy and positivity is hard to ignore, and it is suited for the demands she faces as a new business owner. ”Bootstrapping is a serious business, it takes intestinal fortitude,” comments Kearns. Despite the work involved with opening up the shop, she’s stayed optimistic. “There has been a ton that has gone into it. It has been such a neat experience,” said Kearns. She adds, “I just feel so lucky.”
Junket is located at 4047 Minnehaha Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55406. The shop will be open the first four weekends in December: Friday, 12-7; Saturday, 10-7; Sunday, 12-5.
Julie Kearns, finder and founder of Junket, recently opened her storefront location on Minnehaha Avenue.