I just got back from Junk Junktion in St. Cloud Minnesota. It was an experience for sure and though it wasn’t all bad, it was bad enough that I wouldn’t ever return.
Here is what my experience was at Junk Junktion the good, the bad, and the . . . well there’s not enough coffee in the universe moments.
Junk Junktion 2022 in Review
The 2022 Junk Junktion in St. Cloud Minnesota was according to their website their sixth event. When one of the promoters approached me at Junk Bonanza about becoming a vendor he told me that they were partnered with the Home & Lifestyle Show (in the Twin Cities ours is called the Home & Garden Show) so one ticket would get visitors into both the Home show and Junk Junktion.
To me at the time it sounded like a win! What a great idea to put a home show and vintage show together.
I was so excited to be part of this show. If you watch my YouTube channel then you saw me prepare for months leading up to the show.
Unfortunately my excited started to wain shortly after signing up in October 2021.
First Warning Sign Communication Issues
When you sign up for shows, or at least all the shows I’ve signed up for in the past, you usually receive an email after signing up with details of the show. I received an email from Ticket Leap reitterating the prices of booths and saying Junk Junktion was ready for registration.
I had already registered and received my payment confirmation. So I ignored these and waited for my email with details about the show.
Also in October I asked if there was a hotel group rate. the promoter didn’t respond.
The next email was also from Ticket Leap saying there were only a few spots left for the show.
Again, I was already registered in October and still hadn’t received any details.
I received a Happy New Year! email that said, “Are you registered for Junk Junktion. I’m not going to lie, I panicked a little at that one because as I said I had registered in October. But every email I was receiving sounded like they hadn’t received my registration.
I followed up with the promoter and asked AGAIN if there was a hotel group rate.
Finally! I received a response. I was registered and in one sentence no group rate try these hotels.
It was February when I reached out again asking what load in was like since at this point I had still not received any event vendor information. From October to February 7th nothing except “have you registered yet” from the show.
The promoter response to how far would we have to wheel in . . . “Not far.”
Vague Communication Aside
Not everyone is great at communicating so even though it’s frustrating I let it pass. I figured we would be able to figure it out when we got there.
Yes it was very annoying that there wasn’t a group hotel rate since most events I’ve done even in small towns have them. I would just have to watch Hopper for last minute hotel deals. I can make it work.
At this point my instinct was yelling at me loudly that this felt off. Like this was a first year show trying to get up and running. I quieted the thoughts by reasoning that it wasn’t. According to their own website it was their sixth.
Still I wasn’t concerned.
Junk Junktion Event Promotions?
Looking back now I should have listened to my instincts. Junk Junktion has a website that is just a splash page and a Facebook page. That’s it. No Instagram. No mailing list.
I know I’m going to trigger people when I say this but Facebook is where the old people hang out. The ones that want to go on the nostalgia tour walking around saying, “remember mom had that.” and “Oh I remember that.”
That’s not who vintage markets should be trying to attract. The people buying vintage are young people. Most of the people I seeing buying in my shops are 30 and under. They’re furnishing their homes or apartments and they think sustainability and vintage is, “So COOL!”
That’s who you want to advertise to and they’re not on Facebook.
I suspect (though I have no proof, so it’s just a suspicion) they might have advertised in the newspaper. That’s because the over 80 crowd was there with their walkers and canes. We all know they’re the only ones who read the paper anymore.
Even with the Facebook page they didn’t start advertising the show and it’s vendors until February. Even then only a handful of vendors were mention. From the “like” counts the posts appear to have not been boosted. Below is the post with the highest likes on it. 22 and they have 2K followers?
Before anyone calls me out. Yes, I am upset that my business was not featured on their Facebook page. It was the very least they could do for the money I paid. And I’m saying the bare minimum. Every vendor attending the event should have been promoted by Junk Junktion. That’s how customers know who will be attending the event.
Events I’ve been part of in the past (not this one obviously) actively solicit social media content from their vendors so they can promote the show and their vendors. Seems like a no brainer, right?
Prior to February all the Facebooks posts were “Do you know anyone who wants to be a vendor” like the post in the image below. Again this should have been a red flag. Clearly vendors from years past were not re-signing up for this event. That should have told me something but again I killed my intuition screaming at me.
But it was part of the home show so the optimistic voice in my head said maybe they were promoting this event better.
No One Showed Up
I arrived bright and early on the set up day still not knowing where to go. I pulled up outside the convention center hoping there would be signs of some kind to direct people.
I wandered in and there was no one inside the door. The people I finally did find were from the home show and they were in the very back of the venue. They directed me to the vintage area.
The promoter had his clipboard and asked me my booth number. I gave him my booth number and he said, “I don’t have a booth with that number.”
I said, “Yes, you do because it’s on the map you sent me.” And I showed him where my booth was.
The remainder of the day was spent setting up. I was still excited in spite of all the warning signs.
The morning of the event I arrived to find a Chamber of Commerce meeting in progress in the middle of the event space. One of my fellow vendors said we were supposed to have arrived an hour early to give the chamber members a chance to shop before the doors opened.
I was shocked. I said I didn’t see that in my email from them. Apparently, it was not in the email. The promoter went around the day before an told people. Seems like he told everyone except me.
I was also unaware that Friday afternoon they were planning to have a fish fry in the venue. Lovely. Nothing better than cooking oil and fish smells on your inventory.
Then the doors opened and no one came. I have been at some slow shows before but this was the worst I’ve ever seen. We didn’t need to man the booth at all. If there were 30 people in my booth all day I would be surprised. I sold $50 on that day.
At one point I did see a television news crew so my hopes were raised a little.
For the whole day we kept saying people will come after work. They will come for the fish fry. They did not.
We went back to our hotel that night praying for a better Saturday event.
The next morning the doors opened an this time there were people. A small flurry of people arrived. An unfortunate number of them were just getting out of the house and wanted a place to walk around out of the cold. The nostalgia tour as I like to call it. Remember these? Didn’t Mom have those? I think my grandma had that!
A few sales were made. VERY few. I sold another $80 worth.
By afternoon again there was no one there to buy. The halls were completely empty. The last few stragglers wanted rock bottom prices on everything and sadly they got the price they wanted because so many vendors were in the same boat. They just wanted to not have to bring everything home.
Now before you think my experience was all bad. I had the best neighbors. I met some really great people. We were able to sit around and have long conversations. By the end of the weekend it felt like we’d known each other for years.
All of us were lamenting that our sales were really bad.
One of neighbors informed me that he was only at the event because he is a vendor at the promoters show and those vendors are required to be at the show.
Junk Junktion is Not the Show For Me
So those of you who just did a quick calculation may have already realized I sold $130 at the show. My rent for my 10×10 booth was $200 on the early bird rate. So in booth rental costs I lost $70.
If you add my hotel, gas, and food costs for the weekend I lost over $450 by attending this event. It would have been another $150 if I hadn’t been able to score a really awesome last minute hotel discount on Hopper.
I can’t even imagine if I had lost $600. $450 is hard enough to swallow.
The losses and the bad communication from the promoter have ensured I won’t be going back to Junk Junktion. The other vendors I’ve spoken with are of the same opinion.
I know no promoter can guarantee sales at any show, but in my opinion this promoter failed to even do the most basic in promotions to ensure the best sale possible for his vendors.
Even during the sale most of us vendors were not part of the 2 posts made on the event Facebook page. My booth or business was never featured; nor were my neighbors.
This level of loss is new for me. All the other events, I’ve at least covered my expenses and eeked out a small profit. Have you ever taken losses like this at an event? If so share your story in the comments because misery loves company!
Many blessings to you! ~S