Webster University photojournalism students are creating a photo series on this St. Louis hotspot. The Journal has an exclusive first look at the images before they are displayed in a gallery on Cherokee Street in late April.
Resale shop opens on Cherokee
From antiques to retro furniture, Junk Junkie, a resale shop on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, prides itself on variety.
“We’ll sell anything,” said Junk Junkie co-owner Alex Nash.
A senior photography major at Webster University, Nash opened Junk Junkie on Aug. 17, 2013.
The location is the former home of MoModerne, described as “the St. Louis destination for mid-century furnishings and décor,” on momoderne.net.
Owners of MoModerne, Luby Kelley and Anna Weiss, closed the Cherokee location on July 28 and reopened at 8631 Watson on Aug. 10. Kelley and Weiss felt MoModerne was not accessible to local residents with a smaller budget in mind at the Cherokee location.
“We put Junk Junkie out there for real families and people looking for cheaper clean living,” Kelley said. “There’s definitely still stuff in there for a younger, stylish crowd, but we do want to get the word out that affordable living is within.”
Nash was an employee of MoModerne. He said his bosses, Kelley and Weiss, thought the Cherokee location would be a shame to give up. The couple approached Nash and asked if he would be interested in opening a different store in the former location. The new store, Junk Junkie, would sell secondhand and used merchandise.
“(Nash) proved to be loyal and honest and straightforward. Although, at times he is a tough communicator,” Kelley said. “My wife and I have not had any doubts that he would put the store first and make it his priority. He never shied away from work and was always happy to volunteer, something that really puts you in front compared to other business owners.”
Nash accepted co-ownership of Junk Junkie and began the planning process this past May.
“I never really thought I would get into a resale store situation,” Nash said.
Kelley had a store called Junk Junkie before meeting Weiss, and the three decided to rebrand the name. The original Junk Junkie was based in the St. Louis Hills area.
“The new Junk Junkie is more based on straight resale for any income—any style of person who comes in,” Kelley said. “We cross every design and style that you can think of.”
Junior art major Conor Murphy helped in the planning process. He primarily works for MoModerne but helps Nash with manual labor at Junk Junkie.
“(Junk Junkie has) grown a lot,” Murphy said. “I was in there the other day, and there were a lot of customers, more customers than I really expected.”
Murphy said people really like Junk Junkie, and anyone who hasn’t been there will love it as well.
Nash and Murphy said they gained an appreciation and knowledge of the resale business from working at MoModerne and Junk Junkie. They learned how to resist buying what they bring into the store.
“That’s one of the things Kelley and Weiss told me the first day I worked (at MoModerne) was this job really teaches you to not buy things because you’re constantly seeing things that you think you need to own and you probably don’t,” Murphy said.
Nash and his partners get Junk Junkie’s inventory primarily from estate sales and auctions. Nash said he receives several requests for walk-in sales, but it is not his policy. He is, however, willing to bargain on items on the floor based on price and how long they have been in the store. Nash said it is not always easy to see certain items go.
“We’ve had a lot of different weird things. Like we had two really creepy, matching portraits of children,” Nash said. “They sold a couple days after they came in, and I was really bummed because I liked looking at them.”
Nash said he always had a tendency to put work before school, but realized it wasn’t the best way to do things. He hopes to graduate this December.
“You just feel like you’re working every hour of every day, even when you’re at home trying to relax,” Nash said. “Like you’ve got something about the business on your mind, and you’re just trying to work through new things. You can’t just ignore it for a little bit.”
Nash is looking to build his client base. Although a few people have come in multiple times, he said he does not feel the store has any regular customers yet.
“A lot of people come in expecting it to be MoModerne and like the fact that everything is cheaper when they realize it is a new store,” Nash said. “I want (Junk Junkie) to be big and successful. I just want it to be a store that people talk about. Like if you go through the city people know, ‘Oh, Junk Junkie down on Cherokee Street,’ just like a popular place that people like to frequent and get cool things.”
Murphy said the store at 3156 Cherokee Street is exactly what he and Nash proposed it should be during the planning process.
“It’s interesting because when we were first planning, and we were deciding what the store needed to be, we were like, it shouldn’t be a high-end resale store, but it should not be just a crappy thrift store with junk,” Murphy said. “So it’s kind of a happy medium between those, and that really makes it interesting. That’s why it’s called Junk Junkie, because it is a bunch of junk that people need for some reason.”
Alex Nash is a former photo editor of The Journal, 2012.