• A favorite junk store and a favorite day

    by  • November 24, 2012 • Winter • 5 Comments

    My Favorite Junk Store and Why I Like It

    I’m itchin’ to go to the junk stores again. Boy do I miss the “ARC Store” (Assoc of Retarded Citizens) in Fullerton, CA, near where I used to live. They’d bring new things in by the box-full EVERY DAY from the greater Los Angeles area and it was right around the corner from me. PLUS, they had colored price tags and each day two colors would be half price! I’d go every week, browse and cherry-pick.


    Two styles
    When we bought property here in the Central California mountains in 2000, I stopped collecting tropical fish. I lost interest in buying anything at all in the way of decoration for my beach-y themed small city house 20 miles from the ocean. I now desired a mountainy, ranch-y style house in the woods.

    Our Fullerton home

    Our Fullerton home with its beachy style

    Our mountain home

    Our mountain home, same couch and coffee table,…casual camp style

    In 2005, my husband and I finally moved to the seven acres of land in the Sierra Foothills of California we had found, located just below Yosemite National Park. This began a new adventure for us and as a couple of city kids, we sure got an education about country life.

    House Framing

    House Framing

    We never dreamed we’d be building our own house,…or at least designing it, tiling floors for it and painting it. As a lifelong gardener, I was excited about gardening in this new location. The surroundings are wild and scenic, with a tall massive mountain rising high above the sloped property which is filled with scrub oaks, manzanita and Ponderosa pines.

    Our empty new house, just starting out.

    Our empty new house, just starting out, ready to be filled with family antiques and thrift shop and even trash day finds


    After five years of preparation, we finally were ready to move into a freshly painted and nearly empty house. We had left so much behind, not needing or wanting our old furniture and city things. What I kept? I kept my Grandma’s furniture, a desk, a dresser and a gate-legged table. We had all her many oil paintings, some for every room. I kept Dad’s old office desk and the ash furniture he built for his first new house, a bookcase and the three drawer dresser  he built for us babies. We kept our old comfy couch and loveseat, a nice neutral tan, and an old rattan chair I found in an alley on trash day. I covered the cushions with a serape blanket and there it is in the above photo.  Everything we kept has a story,…a family story.

    My antique desk from Grandma

    My antique desk from Grandma,…everything here has a story,…nothing new.

    All these found at thrift stores or on ebay,...love blue!

    All these found at thrift stores or on eBay,…love blue! When your dishes are a favorite color combo,…you really don’t mind washing them.

    Summer camp , is what this table says to me with its $14 Ikea chairs. Made it from redwood.

    Summer camp , is what this table says to me with its $14 IKEA chairs. Made it from redwood.

    My List
    Since I had shifted my focus to mountain living, I slowly developed a mental list of items and materials, I’d look for at the annual flea market in our county and at junk shops and yard sales. Here’s the list:

    Indian blankets found second hand.

    Weathered wood
    ‘Plaid shirt’ plaid

    Summer camp
    ’40s kitchen
    Rusted metal
    Barbed wire
    Oil cloth
    Yosemite slate (Black, brown and gold)
    California-colored pottery

    Terracotta clay
    Vintage flower pots are an obsession Wrought iron
    Granite rock
    Pine trees and cones

    Wool Indian blankets
    Galvanized metal
    Night sky

    These were the materials and things I’d search out so I didn’t get everything! I can be a bit of a crow, gathering shiny objects in its nest.

    I’d find things, each with a feeling of exhilaration, sometimes with a look over my shoulder to check f someone else was reaching for what I had snatched up! I carefully put all these things away in boxes and bags and into storage until we were ready to move.

    My Best Day
    One day that December, I sat on the bare patio and unwrapped all my mountain themed treasures. I had forgotten so many of the items that I had found over the five years and opened and lifted out each one, humming.
    It was like Christmas for me,…a favorite day.


    Now, when I return to Fullerton to visit family, I head over to spend an hour or so in my favorite shop from back then. It’s not the same, because back then I had a direction, a goal to acquire what would go into our home and lives.  Now when I go, I rearely find anything I need…it’s just nice to putter and browse. Thank goodness now I have a feeling that I have enough….for inside!  Oh, you forgot about the seven acres, huh?

    My junky 'play' area...everything bought or found used

    My junky ‘play’ area…everything bought or found used


    So what’s your favorite junk store, thrift store or Flea Market and more importantly, what’s on your mental list of ‘have to haves’? ~~ Sue


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    5 Responses to A favorite junk store and a favorite day

    1. November 25, 2012 at 10:02 am

      I wonder if I can develop a mental list like you. My hubby and I have not one design bone between us and our house looks like someone might move in one day – 12 years after we actually did. We’d both rather be outdoors. Well, I like my office because I can be as messy as a pack rat in there and I love that. But… we really could use a mental list – yours is very interesting and helps me a lot, just by the types of articles on it. Fun to read this post!

    2. Dana Burley
      November 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      You sound like me! We are moving now to Mariposa to a little ranch style home out in the woods. Just a half acre to garden but I am already enjoying your blog, looking for ideas. I think deer and gophers will be my biggest problems. Our stuff is also mostly from our parents and grandparents, everything has memories. We also love second hand stores although since we are downsizing we may be doing more donating than purchasing in the near future! I am looking forward to more of this blog!

      • January 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

        Hi Mouse, most everyone loves a flea market or yard sale,…it brings out the scavenger in us all! Most people like a bargain, too. I’ve rarely bought new furniture and always like finding old things for the house, choosing the best I can find. I love taking take of my Grandma’s furniture, too….lot’s of memories!

        Hi Dana, good luck in your new place. Thanks so much for your kind comments, too. Deer and gophers are a challenge as is our blazing heat in summer! Finding plants that can survive is my goal with this blog. That and telling how we moved her and built our house when nothing was here but forest. We wnat to enjoy the nature and leave few ‘footprints’ I hope you come back again and again.

    3. November 26, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Hi Sue!
      My favorite junk store is Amvets in Escondido (North San Diego county). It’s huge and fun. My mom and sister and I usually spend an afternoon there when we’re down visiting. When we lived in Orange county I loved going to the Goodwill in San Clemente. Or was it a Salvation Army? Anyway, when we were getting ready to move away from the area, we stopped in and got boots, hats, gloves, and coats for the whole family for less than $30. It was nice stuff too, some of it never worn. Thrift stores near higher-income areas have the best stuff.

    4. carol tregenza
      November 26, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      I just read the above comments about gophers and deer and so am hoping someone can tell us what we might do for the gophers…we fenced in a good chunk of yard when we put in raised beds, but now after 20+ years of never seeing a mole or gopher, of course…they are destroying many of the new, native plants I put in…luckily the beds seems to be holding out with their wiring underneath. Help!!!

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