Q&A with Vintage Expert Coley Arnold

Coley Arnold from Junk in the Trunk Vintage styled the Thanksgiving table featured on page 81 in the November issue. The tablescape demonstrates how to mix vintage pieces with modern ones. Coley shared some great tips for vintage shopping and decorating and spilled some details on the next Junk in the Trunk  market.

EMMA Magazine: How did you start Junk in the Trunk Vintage?
Coley Arnold: Lindsey and I, and our original partner Monique, did stuff separately. We flipped furniture on Craigslist or made clients on Facebook. We were are own little outlet. We were all stay-at-home moms. We were on a vacation and decided we should just gather a bunch of our friends together and have a little show in our friend’s backyard. So, we did a little advertising on Craigslist and ended up having 20 vendors-half of them were friends of ours-and about 600 people come through door in 5 hours. It was kinda an accidental business. We realized there was a need for this in the Valley, and so we created a business off of that.

EM: How does Junk in the Trunk organize these markets?
CA: After the initial backyard show, we found people on Craigslist, we would go to antique stores, and contact individual vendors. And basically it was just word of mouth. We were trying to call people who we knew sold antique stuff or who were collectors. And now that we have done a couple shows, vendors come to us. Vendors apply to be in the market and then Lindsey and myself will review the applications and the pictures they send in. We definitely have a look we are going for. It has to be all vintage, antique and handmade items. We don’t take anything mass-produced or anything like that. Then, we create a map of the tents at WestWorld. And once we have all that taken care of, which usually happens a month before the show, we have to contact a food vendor. And then a part from that is mostly advertising, we have to get out and publicize it. It takes about 50 people to run the market so we have our family, who are wonderful, they help us and we have YoungLife volunteers who help us load furniture. The market starts at 8 a.m. It’s $10 admission in the morning, and then it’s $5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and anyone 12 and under is free all day.

EM: Can you give us some details on your next market?
CA: It will be at the WestWorld tent again. We normally presell tickets but we are not doing it this time. Early entry is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and we have 150 vendors. Our theme is Christmas. It will be a great place to get Christmas gifts, Christmas decorations, redone furniture, authentic vintage pieces from old school chalkboards to dressers, beds, tables and chairs. You really should be able to find anything at the market. We’re going to be having giveaways all throughout the day. We have two design spaces, and in those design spaces we have pieces from West Elm Scottsdale, Pottery Barn Kids at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and Modern Manor to show you how to mix modern furniture with vintage pieces. One design space will be a children’s Christmas design and one will be an adult Christmas design, and we will be giving away items from those spaces. We are also going to have a scavenger hunt through Instagram. You’ll get a map when you enter and on the back there will be something you need to find every hour. If you take a picture of it and hashtag the picture on Instagram, you’ll enter to win whatever we are giving away at the hour.

EM: What advice can you give shoppers?
CA: I would say to bring color swatches of what you have in your house so when you’re out and you see that perfect piece you can be sure. When you’re vintage shopping, you wont have time to go home, make sure it will work and return it. It’s either buy it now or never. I would suggest even painting popsicle sticks with each room color so you can see if it goes. Also check the sturdiness of the items. It might look really awesome on the outside, but with vintage pieces sometimes they’re broken. You can always change the upholstery or paint a piece, but it’s harder to fix an actually broken piece, so make sure it is sturdy before you buy it. I always tell people to keep a list of things that they’re looking for with them so when they’re out and they see a piece they can know if it’s something they can easily fit in a room and not have to rearrange furniture.

It’s always appropriate to barter, but just remember the people who are selling work hard with the pieces, they clean them, they fix them, they haul them and it’s a process. So, be reasonable when you’re asking for a discount.

EM: Why buy vintage items?
CA: Vintage items are normally made better, they are better quality. So if you get a chair from the 1960s its going to have a really great bone and great structure. So it’s something you can spend a couple $100 so you might find a chair for $50 and spend $200 reupholstering it and you got a $250 chair that normally nowadays would $500. And you can customize it, and it’s going to last you a really long time because in the older days they really did make things better- they took better care of it and used real wood instead of just veneer. So you’re going to get a better quality piece and get to customize it for cheaper than if you were just going to go to a store and buy it.

Vintage pieces are an easy way to add some personality to a mostly modern room, and vintage with modern and traditional pieces mix really well. I think some people are afraid of that but I say, take the plunge and do it because it will look great.

EM: What makes a vintage piece a “keeper” rather than a “tosser?”
CA: First you need to check the condition of an item. If it’s a furniture piece you are looking at, make sure it’s sturdy. If a piece is broken or wobbly and can’t be fixed by tightening the screws, skip it. Also, skip it if it smells like smoke. It is nearly impossible to get that smell out of upholstery. If you are looking at other vintage items, try to imagine them for a different use. A trunk makes a great coffee table with extra storage for kids toys or blankets. A suitcase makes a cute medicine cabinet or stack a few next to the bed for a nightstand. If you can’t find a good place for it in your home, skip it. It will just become clutter.

EM: What do you love about the Thanksgiving tablescape we shot for the November issue?
CA: I love an eclectic table personally, I think it adds interest. I love the fact that you can get a really interesting table for really cheap. The plates were collected, the silverware was from an estate sale for cheap, the wood on the centerpiece was from a backyard-we cut out pieces of wood. The lace table cloth was from an estate sale and it was $5. The big metal tray that is in the middle of the table was also in the estate sale, it is sterling silver and it cost $25. The scale adds height in the able but it’s also interesting and fun, and it’s a good way to add a quirky personal feel on a budget. So you really can do an elaborate fancy fun table for next to nothing.

Photography by Karie Denny.

Alejandra likes ice cream, dancing and pretty things. You can usually find her exploring downtown Phoenix, where she lives, or singing to herself while writing in a coffee shop.

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