Friday, June 21, 2013

Junk Shop Shep's: City of Lost Toys and Zombie Apocalypse Destination


Junk shop Sheps Discount  is a local legend. It didn't take long for my mom, a lifelong hunter, to find Sheps after we moved to Jacksonville, Florida over a decade ago. Perusing the dusty, labyrinthine warehouse transports me to my early days in J-Ville. It's the perfect representation of South Eastern junk culture, a hoarder's wunderkammer of cast-off consumerism.


Pull up to Shep's and you'll notice a buffet of furniture, cast-off retail signs and displays, and more bleaching in the intense Florida sun.


You'll work-up a sweat digging through random oddities before you even enter the shop.


Overwhelming, tacky, fascinating, and incredibly daunting.


The adventure has only begun, this is junk foreplay!


There's furniture, housewares, tools, retail supplies, huge quantities of canned food, stacks of bar soap and leaking shampoo bottles, objects shipped from China still-in-box...


A surprising array of dusty wares that haven't been manufactured since the 1990s, shelves of broken wares...


....Made in China Creepy-Kawaii Cute Ceramics...


...and stuffed animals from the City of Lost Toys!


Hunting aisle by aisle you start feel disconnected from society. You're in another world. Civilization has ended, an atom bomb has reduced everything we've ever known a mere shadow of its former self and you're digging through the rubble.


It's rare for a junk shop to confront you with your own mortality but Shep's will do that to you. Shep's makes you think of the trash humanity will leave behind after our inevitable extinction.


Will alien life forms excavate Earth and try to understand the significance of our plastic Dinosaur party favors?


Will the same aliens discuss boyband worship and culture? Will they look at this card and cry in anguish, "What does it mean!?"



Also, a Lion King wild pig/warthog reference, of course.


Aisles filled with canned food had me thinking Shep's would be my first destination in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously enough food in here to keep you alive for years! Not ideal sustenance but you won't be picky in the Zombie Apocalypse.


Though the immense size and openness of the shop would make it too easy for the undead to keep the drop on you. Yes, I think of my doomsday survival strategies in detail.


My desired quarry was a glass front jewelry case. I was escorted outside the view their selection. Telling for the area and large drug culture we have in this city my guide found a bookbag stuffed to the brim with illegal substance behind one of the cases.


I was desperate the look inside and even snap some photos but that would make me the reckless April 'O Neil of Junk Blog Journalism. April's one of my childhood heroes, but, y'know, sometimes she had it comin'.


On the way back into the shop my guide informed me that this lovely vehicle belongs to the store owner and it will one day be his daughter's (now five) first car.


My guide luckily was not offended by my ample picture-taking. I love the gorgeous painted signs on the sides of the building, beautiful color and typography.


I left Shep's having spent far, far too much money (this is another story yet to come) and feeling physically and mentally exhausted. Shep's is not an experience for the weak, but I highly recommend it to any local lover of rummage. At least as an experience, as the prices are high for my tastes.

What's your favorite local junk stop? Do you prefer a super neat second-hand shopping experience, or do you like to get dirty and dig in?
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33 comments:

  1. This is a place I MUST check out....at some point in time. I might need to rest up and fortify myself first from the looks of it! The thrifter (is that real word, spell check says "no") and treasure hunter in me thinks it looks oh so interesting! Thanks for sharing this with me. I have lived in Jacksonville for a very long time, but have never heard of this place.

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    1. "Thrifter" isn't a real word according to the dictionary but used so often it's merely a case of the good book needing to play catch-up. It's one of the first places we explore when we moved here about 16 (aah!) years ago, ironically.

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    2. Oh, I was saving it for another post but the prices can be a bit high, especially for a reseller. It's a "discount warehouse" rather than a "thrift store".

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  2. That does look daunting-- but fun!

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    1. It was indeed fun, yet draining. Cannot make a regular habit outta that one! You would be drained.

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  3. Wow, that place looks like fun! I'll have to check it out if I'm ever in Florida!

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    1. It's certainly the perfect representation of a certain type of Florida junk culture. A worthy "real" experience different from the tropical Florida tacky tourism. :D

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  4. Replies
    1. It cannot even compare to the sheer overwhelming feeling of being there surrounded by it all. This is a 2-parter. haha ;p

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  5. Oooo. That doesn't look like a "quick stop-by." But it did look like the prices might be a bit high. I found a great junk store in Johnson City, TN where the proprieter proudly referred to his establishment as a junk store and encouraged my 9 year old to practice on the wide assortment of keyboards (in various states of disrepair) available. He applauded everything she played. We exchanged junking stories. I haggled and made a few nice purchases. We all enjoyed ourselves ever so much. But then I know you know how much fun these adventures can be.

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    1. Aw, that sounds so awesome! My boyfriend, who normally hates thrifting or shopping of any capacity, loves junking and flea marketing for me for the history and the characters you meet. He's encouraging me to do a video/written series on the fascinating merchants I encounter. Gonna have to start on that soon.

      But not for a while, banned on getting more merch for a bit, haha.

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  6. i see like a million things i want! i can't seem to find these kinds of places in middle TN which is making me crazy. must find junk shops and random flea markets! when i travel, i find them, but i can't find them at home!

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    1. There's an overwhelming variety down here, I have the opposite problem. I could wind up with as warehouse full of my own, gotta hold back!

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  7. Wow. I could be happily lost in there for days. I think I would faint from the visual overload, though.

    I guess it says something about me that pictures like this get my heart beating faster, when pictures of hunky guys or gorgeous girls leave me cold.

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    1. No shame in being a junk fetishist ;) The visual overload literally took it out of me.

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  8. Wow that is full on isn't it. It's huge. Here in Australia around many areas of the country we have Tip Shops which is what by the looks of your pictures is the category Shep's would fall into. Tip is a word here used to discribe a landfill site, otherswise known as a dump as well. I'd have to agree that even here after a poke around in a Tip Shop you leave shaking your head at the enormity of waste.

    Very keen to see what you bought.

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  9. Those scales - with the orange dials - they're...they're...staring at me!

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    1. Haha, they did tempt me but the price was a no-go on those and many other things I wanted to load into the car.

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  10. We had something like this in Maryland and I called it a junk store and apparently the owner wasn't pleased with that description. Honestly, if while digging through piles of stuff stacked on the floor, you find yourself wondering when you last had a tetanus shot, it's probably a junk store!

    This place looks like a lot of fun!!

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    1. I'm sure these guys would not be pleased with me writing about it as a junk shop. I know they put hard work into it but like you said, when some aisles are literally just piles of debris and you have some merchandise scattered outside in the elements, kind of junky. Just a tad. And we love it :D

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  11. Van, what a great post. The writing is clear, focused, evocative. Telling photos, too. I felt like I was there with you. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Oh yes, we bought a display from Shep's, and we still use it!

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    1. I was on the hunt for retail displays, too. :D

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  13. Love this post! You really captured what it's like to experience a place like Shep's ... we don't have anything like that around here, unfortunately. Wish we did!

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    1. It's so crazy overwhelming, should have included 10 more photos to give the feel of it ;) haha

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  14. Van
    Finally had time to read your blog again. Shep's looks like a great adventure. Sometimes when I go into large thrift stores I also find it a bit sad and overwhelming. The sheer quantity of "stuff" is mind boggling - but then I remind myself that thrifting and buying second hand is a good thing to do. Be conscious of what we consume.
    Enjoyed your writing as always!

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    1. Glad you liked it Victoria! It's definitely a humbling experience that helps you realize there's just too much already produced to support new retail items.

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  15. OMG, I would love to rummage through a place like that at least once in my life! Thanks for sharing and for all the photos. Some of the prices look ridiculous for a junk shop, though. One hundred fifty dollars for an animal head wall display?

    I don't know of any junk shops locally where I live, but I tend to prefer my shopping experiences to be on the neater side, as I can get kinda squeamish when things are dusty, dirty, or grimy :0)

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    1. I have another post coming up discussing pricing for shops and when it's okay to ask for discounts. I understand they have to run a business but yeh, those prices were crazy.

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  16. Wow. Simply wow. In my area of Philadelphia we don't have many true rummage shops, only neat and tidy thrift stores. Although lately I have been getting my hands dirty in rummage sales at the thrift...bins and bins of unsorted goodies for 99 cents. (I'm working on several posts about my findings, ha ha). But Shep's looks like wonderland...curiouser and curiouser!

    Love it!

    <3 Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting

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    1. Curiouser and curiouser is right. I'm banning myself from this place, too overwhelming and too tempting ;)

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  17. Well from my shopping experience i would prefer to buy good looking vintage furniture which is having unique look and design.

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