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?