In the beginning - How we got from there to here...

Our story began in Bozeman, Montana, of all places.

I was between jobs after an unfulfilling stint in Los Angeles, and a few months wandering around in the Rockies seemed like the right plan at the time. It was a glorious summer, full of hiking and coffee and auctions. Yes, auctions.

I hadn't been to an auction since I was a kid, but I went to an estate sale just for something to do, and ended up with a car load of collectables. This was back in the day when you could sell just about anything on eBay, and so I did! A few weeks later, I filled my Subaru with antique books from another auction. Buying at auction and selling online kept the bills paid throughout that summer and into the fall, but eventually I had to take a job when the summer auctions dried up. Six months later, the job transferred me to Cleveland.

I ended up buying a little house in Sullivan, and soon discovered that there were many auctions in this area too (for what it's worth, Ohio happens to support a thriving auction scene, which is not the case in many areas of the country).

I was still dabbling in antiques and collectables, and when the leaky old building in Sullivan became available, I took the plunge and committed to the antiques business full-time.

I have been blessed with generous, loving, and supportive parents. Dad helped out with a business loan, Mom spent many hours overseeing the store setup and maintenance, and both made endless trips from their home in North Carolina to help with auctions, displays, ideas, repairs, and much more. Around this same time, we discovered an author by the name of Mary Randolph Carter, whose series of "junk" books become the inspiration and philosophy for the store that remains in place today. If you look closely at the cover of her book, "American Junk," you'll see where the "Useful Junk" name came from!

We <3 junk books!
Mary Randolph Carter's "Junk" books are the inspiration for much of what we do at Useful Junk

As is often the case for new businesses, those first few years were a little sparse. I can remember some l-o-o-o-ng winter weeks when it could be days between customers and there wasn't much to do besides listening to the furnace add dollars to the gas bill. Online sales helped make ends meet... barely.

At the beginning, our entire store was just the south half of the upstairs. Before long, we opened the basement, and several years ago, we moved into the north half of the building vacated by the post office. We've been joined by some amazing shop cats over the years (our current princess, Klutter, will celebrate her third birthday soon).

We should have named her "lazy"
The princess

We have never worked harder than we work now. We are thrilled to be a destination for so many folks in the area, including some customers who have been with us for over a decade, and we make new friends every week. Our little business has blossomed to where I am pretty much out buying full time while my amazing staff sorts, cleans, tests, repairs, prices, and displays all of the junk I unload from auction trips.

Our philosophy hasn't changed much in the 13 years we've been in Sullivan: there is beauty in old, character in imperfection, and joy in giving a discarded item new life and new purpose. We live by the words of William Morris: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Life's good, y'all... ~Wes