Linda Albers hated thrift shopping when she was a little girl living in in Eastern Washington, east of Spokane.
She remembered her mother driving her and her siblings to the nearest town to go shopping.
“My mom always had a beautiful home ... even if we didn’t have a lot of money, she made it look nice and comfortable,” Albers said.
It wasn’t until Albers was older that she realized she — and all her siblings — liked old objects and antiques.
“In some shape or form, we all caught that bug,” said Albers, now 56. “Who knew when I was screaming in the back of the car that I’d be making a living out of it?”
In some shape or form, we all caught that bug. Who knew when I was screaming in the back of the car that I’d be making a living out of it.
Linda Albers, founder of The Great Junk Hunt
Albers and her sister, Dixie, are the founders of The Great Junk Hunt, a vintage flea market that provides “a place for junkers to come together to buy and sell all things vintage, upcycled and unique.” They’re also the faces behind the Funky Junk Sisters Vintage Flea Market.
“We pull together vintage dealers and they come in and create their own little storefront and boutique to show the things they found, repurposed or upcycled,” Albers explained.
Since Albers lived in Puyallup for more than 30 years and recently moved to Tacoma to be closer to her grandchildren, she runs the The Great Junk Hunt Puyallup, which is expected to draw thousands to the event on Friday and Saturday (Nov. 17-18) at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup.
The idea for The Great Junk Hunt sparked after years of owning her own brick-and-mortar antique and vintage business. She longed to travel and hunt for treasures, so she closed her shop and did just that.
That same year, she started the first junk hunt out of a training gym owned by her husband on South Hill. It garnered such an interest in local shoppers that when they opened the garage doors, hundreds were waiting to get inside.
“When we saw the line we couldn’t believe it,” Albers said.
Over time, they’ve had to get a bigger venue. The Great Junk Hunt has been at the Washington State Fairgrounds since 2013. Now, Linda and Dixie host The Great Junk Hunt in multiple cities, including Monroe, Salem, Oregon and Ventura, California.
Puyallup’s history with antique shops is a long one, with many still located right downtown. But Albers wanted something unique and different. She also wanted to bring younger generations into the mix.
I wanted to introduce the younger generation to vintage stuff...I wanted it to be a whole different vibe. I wanted it to be fun.
“I wanted to introduce the younger generation to vintage stuff,” Albers said. “I wanted it to be a whole different vibe. I wanted it to be fun.”
Albers said she sees all ages at The Great Junk Hunt, and even more young generations at another show they started called Pinology, where vendors sell merchandise based off trends from Pinterest, a social network platform. The first Pinology in Puyallup was held in February.
While the merchandise at The Great Junk Hunt is often upcycled or vintage, Albers said there’s a demand for it.
“In this day and age of technology sometimes it’s great to get back to the roots of things,” she said. “I think that’s why our shows are so popular ... they like the thrill of the hunt.”
In this day and age of technology sometimes it’s great to get back to the roots of things. I think that’s why our shows are so popular ... they like the thrill of the hunt.
Puyallup resident Ryan Jacobson runs Burley Creek Nursery with his father, Tom, in Port Orchard. They’ve been vendors for The Great Junk Hunt since 2009.
“My wife would always go to these (antique) sales, and I do landscape construction and my dad and I have a nursery we were opening,” Jacobsen said. “We thought our stuff would look good as a background.”
Jacobson said his booth gets a lot of interest at the show, and that many people, if not looking to buy, are looking for ideas for home decor.
“It’s a little different flavor than everyone else,” he said about the booth.
This year, The Great Junk Hunt will have about 140 vendors for shoppers to browse. Tickets for the shows are available at thegreatjunkhunt.com/purchase-tickets. Tickets will also be sold at the door.
The Great Junk Hunt
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18
Where: Washington State Fairgrounds, 110 9th Ave SW, Puyallup