On the Wetumpka Junk Trail

By on 17 February, 2014 in Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 0 Comments

It can seem like Wetumpka’s pretty far away. We have friends who live there, and sometimes they (and we) refer to them as living “in the country,” but really it’s just a few minutes up 231 to the greater thrift/pawn/vintage/antique zone. This fall, we had the opportunity to drive along Maine’s antiquarian bookseller’s trail – deepening an already-existing love for junk shops. We don’t always (or really even often) buy things, but we love to look – it’s like going to a free museum. Plus, you get to meet people who appreciate old things. We love browsing at Eastbrook Flea Market here in town, but wanted to check out what the greater River Region had to offer. So on a recent weekend we loaded up the camera and drove on up the road to Wetumpka.

Our first stop was the Blue Ridge Antique Junk Shop. We’d driven by this place a dozen times, but weren’t sure when it was open or what we might find inside. Turns out that it’s open Thursday to Sunday and it’s awesome. The owners have been in the business for decades and have a gigantic warehouse full of stuff. As in everything you could possibly need and then some stuff. Player pianos? Check. Pinball machines? Check. Giant barber pole with mannequin head on top? Check. Plus tons of inscrutable farm implements, crusty old pharmaceutical boxes, life-sized plastic horses, a full post office, a homemade jail cell, millions of dusty bottles and gears and knobs of every possible size and color. The hours we spent poking around were limited only by the cold (no central heat in there) and our increasingly grumbling stomachs. We bought an amazing liquor bottle commemorating New Mexico’s statehood. We considered buying a pinball machine, but have not (as of this writing). The owners know what their stuff is worth, so you’re not likely to get any super amazing deals. On the other hand, they’re looking to clear things out, so we got the feeling that it would be possible to negotiate prices with them on just about anything in the shop. Highly recommended.

For lunch, we went next door to the Feedsack. They serve burgers, salads and sandwiches, as well as what appear to be a great brunch and super dinner specials, but we went with the veggie plate. It was fantastic, featuring some of the best macaroni and cheese around as well as lima beans, squash and rutabagas. It was a low-key atmosphere with friendly staff – a perfect place to refuel on the junk trail. Two four-veggie plates, tea and a Bud set us back $20.

Afterward, we went to Bell Treasures Flea Markets and Antiques. They had lots of great furniture and two big buildings. Nothing caught our eye especially, but we did get two nice hand-made throw pillows at a very reasonable price, allowing us to gracefully retire the ones we’d been meaning to get rid of for ages. Folks looking for furniture might try this stop. Time to go into town. Our final stop on the circuit was the Wetumpka Flea Market. This place operates more on the Eastbrook model, with tons of stalls — each owned by a different vendor. The thing about this kind of mall is that prices, quality and variety vary dramatically from stall to stall. There were lots of books, as the Internet reviews had promised, but few we wanted to take home (our Stephen King and John Grisham collections are already quite robust). We bought a few records, admired an old gambling machine and a planter’s clock, but otherwise had more fun looking than we did buying. There’s some odd stuff for sale here, including item’s from Alabama’s less-savory past. We found it surprising that there are people out there collecting Ku Klux Klan paraphernalia, but clearly there are.

We took lots and lots of pictures. In all, we highly recommend a trip to our northern neighbor for anyone interested in exploring the many things that have been cast into the waste stream only to be picked up, shined, and put on display for new owners. It’s like recycling, only more fun!

 

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