Stepping into Junk & Disorderly is kind of like being a kid in a lolly shop. There’s shock, followed by an urge to touch everything in sight. And then there is the giddy feeling of sensory overload – I call it “drunk on junk”.
Located in Northcote, the 140,000-square-foot warehouse is stockpiled with furniture, collectables, and knick-knacks. As they say, one person’s junk; another person’s treasure.
Nicole Stewart has been collecting other people’s items since childhood trips to the rubbish tip with her nana. She opened her first shop when she was just 18-years-old. Now, along with husband Richard, this team work side-by-side hauling in an average of two truckloads a day, five days a week, of used, retro and vintage goods from estate sales, auctions, and private sales from people moving overseas or redecorating. This leaves the weekends for unpacking and sorting.
Their method is a clean sweep. Unlike many traders who take one or two of the best items, they go in and take everything, including garage and shed lots. It is more than just collecting, it is about providing a service. Of course, this also means that the Stewarts don’t necessarily know what they are going to get. “I once pulled a skeleton out of the bottom of a box. It was an old medical education skeleton. We didn’t feel comfortable selling someone’s relation, so we donated it to a museum.”
Clientele includes everyone from TV and movie designers, to the newly emigrated English couple looking at a lounge set in the corner of the store, to the pair of giggling girls pawing through baskets of collectable spoons.
While their own tastes are constantly changing, Nicole and her husband currently have a self-professed “thing” for taxidermy. They get excited any time a new animal arrives. On this day, a stuffed beaver is perched on a glass display cabinet, hovering over shelves of fine china, while a collection of ducklings has attracted quite the conversation thread on the Junk & Disorderly Facebook page. But you’re not likely to be inundated by a warehouse full of creatures. “When we first began, we would fill our small shop with things we liked, and then wonder why they weren’t selling. We learned very quickly that people have a variety of tastes,” admits Nicole.
You can expect to find a wide array of goods that includes kitchen items, artwork, mirrors, old magazines, surfboards, milk bottles, lamps, movie posters, religious figurines, LPs and 45s, retro suitcases and a whole lot more.
Their strategy has obviously worked, as Junk & Disorderly is now in its fifth and largest location and it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down for this couple.