One man's junk becomes their vintage items

  • Updated: January 15, 2011 - 10:56 PM

This is the year you're going to get organized. That closet full of stuff? You'll purge, ruthlessly. That box crammed full of old things you somehow inherited? Out it goes. It's just junk, right? Who'd want it? Ask Jennifer Bolsoni and Jill Fisher. What you don't want is just the thing someone else is looking for, and that's where they're happy to help. They sell antiques at Hunt and Gather, a nationally known store at 50th Street and Xerxes Avenue S. in Minneapolis, and they find new homes for the things we no longer want.

Q: So what sort of things do Minnesotans keep?

Jill: I don't find a ton of old stuff. My husband is from Massachusetts, and he doesn't think what we have are antiques.

Jennifer: We get a lot of the lake stuff from the '50s and '60s. A lot of cabin mementoes, postcards, salt and pepper shakers from Bemidji, camp blankets. It has a lot of appeal in the metro area. It used to be reasonable to have a cabin -- it seems like most families had one. So the stuff reflects the middle class and their tastes. It probably wasn't necessarily kitsch to them, but it's taken on that nuance.

Jill: Big-city trends made it here eventually, so we see that, too. You can find anything in estate sales here. It's amazing.

Jennifer: But we also have things you don't find in the big cites, like Scandinavian stuff -- like those little Norse horses, old linens for the bureaus, tiny painted holiday items. That might be why stylists from other cities come here to the Midwest -- they get inspiration from our styles, then pop it out on a national basis.

Q: So if someone from Crate and Barrel or Anthropologie stumbles on someone's Paul Bunyan potholder collection, it might be a hip trend in Brooklyn in 2017? Cool. Provided no one throws it away, that is. Maybe we have a deep psychological need to hang on to things, because we might be trapped indoors for months, and we'll need that potholder. Are Minnesotans hoarders?

Jennifer: No! There might be something about cabin-fever culture that makes us go through things and clean everything out.

Q: We get fed up and purge without thinking, perhaps?

Jennifer: People do focus in the wrong thing -- who wants these old postcards? But they think an old piece of furniture might be a Chippendale. The small stuff is just as important as the big.

Jill: I'm always really sad when people's photographs aren't saved. Or old letters. Personal things. You think you don't want them because your life is cluttered and busy, and you want to make space for other stuff. But the personal things are what's important. I find little packets of handwritten letters with the beautiful handwriting, wrapped in a ribbon. Someone saved them for a reason.

JAMES LILEKS

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