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Junk in the Trunk filled with second-hand treasures

More than 75 consignors have goods at the store in Jamestown.

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Chantel Harr, left, and Denise Hallwachs, owners of Junk in the Trunk, say the business carries inventory that appeals to all ages. Regular shoppers from Bismarck travel to check out what's in the store, where the displays are continually changing.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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You might say Chantel Harr and Denise Hallwachs have junking in their blood. Harr said her grandmother was “a collector of everything,” and Hallwachs said her grandmother and father would repurpose furniture.

So it seems inevitable that when the two met while teaching at Pingree-Buchanan High School, they would become friends and share their own love for junking with each other.

“We’ve always been avid garage salers and stuff like that,” Harr said.

And, being “avid garage salers,” they said they began to accumulate stuff. Harr said Hallwachs suggested having a sale at Harr’s garage but they figured out there wasn’t enough room for everything. They rented the former Music Corner building (now the Dakota Store) for a weekend sale.

“It went very well,” Harr said.

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That was the beginning of what would become Junk in the Trunk, their business that has one location in Jamestown and another that opened last year in Carrington.

Junk in the Trunk opened in Jamestown in 2014, moving to its current location at 107 1st Ave. S. in 2017.

“We outgrew the other one. We just needed more room,” Harr said.

Junk in the Trunk features items from more than 75 consignors including some crafters, mostly from a 60-mile radius of Jamestown. Hallwachs and Harr say there is plenty of room for more, noting they prefer to see photos of what a consignor has for sale first before approval.

People always say when they walk in here, it’s like going into grandma’s house or their aunt’s house.
- Denise Hallwachs, co-owner, Junk in the Trunk

The main floor of the building is filled with inventory and part of the basement as well.

“We’ve been told that our prices are very reasonable and they (customers) love that fact,” Hallwachs said.

Items carried at Junk in the Trunk include collectibles, antiques, vintage, gently used home decor, seasonal items, upcycled/repurposed furniture and craft and gift items.

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“We try and keep some new items, more so for the gifts,” Hallwachs said.

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Galvanized pails contain merchandise at Junk in the Trunk in Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

But second-hand items are the star and they are popular with shoppers.

“Even though it is second hand, it’s in good shape,” Harr said. “It has a lot of life left in it and some of it - some people will buy it for their own repurposing.”

Hallwachs said there’s a nostalgic feel to the store and that’s part of the appeal to customers.

“People always say when they walk in here, it’s like going into grandma’s house or their aunt’s house,” Hallwachs said.

Brides have purchased tablecloths, mismatched cream and sugar sets and goblets for their weddings, Harr said. Teapots have made their way to a child’s “Alice in Wonderland”-themed birthday party, Hallwachs said. An old oak door went to California for a home being restored.

Harr said there are a lot of unique “one-of-a-kind pieces.”

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“If you think about some of the antiques, there are pieces that you don’t always see anymore and there’s still some collectors out there,” she said.

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Repurposed furniture helps display some of the items at Junk in the Trunk.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Junk in the Trunk attracts a wide range of shoppers, the two women say.

“I see a lot of family time together because you see the different generations coming in here together, grandma, mom and the daughters and even the grandkids, sometimes, too, coming in together,” Hallwachs said. “For instance, we had a phone, just a regular old phone, and the kids didn’t know what it was and they were talking (about it).”

Harr and Hallwachs said they have about six retired people who work at the store who are always rearranging the displays, which keeps the store looking different for shoppers who might not see the same thing twice.

“Our workers are terrific stagers,” Hallwachs said. “I don’t know how we got so lucky because the people that help us are just tremendous. You couldn’t ask for any more honest and hardworking people. We really lucked out there.”

When a few of their friends in Carrington asked them to open a shop there, it didn’t seem feasible with their teaching jobs and already busy lives. Harr teaches English at Jamestown High School and Hallwachs teaches third grade in Buchanan and lives on a farm near Pettibone.

But a few of those friends who are retired volunteered to work at the Carrington store if they’d open one.

“We thought, ‘let’s give it a try,’” Harr said.

The store opened in August 2021.

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Junk in the Trunk

Jamestown: 107 1st Ave. S

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Carrington: 6711 Highway 200

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday

Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or ksteiner@jamestownsun.com.
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