A Junk Shop Full Of Treasures

When Craig Olson opened Acme Junk Co. 8 years ago, part of his motivation was to collect and creatively repurpose old items. Now, with 10,000 sq. ft. of vintage treasures in his Amery, Wis., store, he spends more time guiding shoppers on how to put their own pieces together. For example, with a collection of cast iron bases, cream separators, milk cans, tailgates, and black walnut boards, DIYers can create their own unique décor and furniture.


     “I call it a junk store because the word antique gives a preconceived notion of what it would have. My theory is that people who are buying and into antiques are 30 to 65. They want to buy back their childhood, not china and things in locked cases. Those are things I try to stay away from. I’m 52, so I buy things from the 70’s and 80’s, more vintage,” Olson explains.


    A couple of big trailer loads of treasures from a New York business got him started, but now he and other family members shop for things for Acme, which is on the main floor of the Amery store. Below it is a 5,000 sq. ft. basement with an antique mall with rented spaces for all types of sellers/collectors. Olson runs everything through one cash register.


    Since Amery is dubbed the “City of Lakes,” the junk store has plenty of cabin décor items such as snowshoes and wooden skis. Items are displayed in sections—cast iron cookware along one wall, tools on another, and an area for farm pieces such as cast-iron wheels and barn roof tin. In the past, Olson repurposed old pickup tailgates into benches, and he still sells tailgates when he can find them.


    “I like oddities,” Olson says, and they’re scattered throughout the store. A 9 1/2-ft. hammerhead shark hangs from the ceiling. A restored Little Miss from an old barn-style Dairy Queen spins and lights up. It’s the only one of seven known to exist that works.


    “I’m not sure how many people walk out without buying anything, but I want to give them a reason to talk about something,” he says.


    Olson posts new items on social media but doesn’t have online sales. Acme Junk is open Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Acme Junk Co., 201 Keller Ave. N., Amery, Wis. 54001 (ph 715-268-5865; www.acmejunkco.com; sales@acmejunkco.com).