She may have named her store “Junk in the Trunk,” but owner Bonnie Pattillo will be the first to tell you her merchandise isn’t junk — or at least, it’s specially picked out junk, repurposed junk, funky fun junk, vintage junk or shabby new junk. Regardless, it’s become the go-to place for one-of-a-kind gifts and household items.
“I like to describe my store as a trash to treasure store — a mixture of old and new,” said Pattillo. “This isn’t your grandmother’s antique store. I have eclectic vintage finds mixed in with repurposed items, painted furniture and brand-new things.”
Inside Junk in the Trunk on Mill Street in Grass Valley, Pattillo’s signature display style is everywhere. An old rake mounted on the wall serves as a rack for jewelry. A stripped-down wire lamp shade is home to colorful scarves. An old spring crib frame doubles as a bulletin board for pictures and notes. A headboard has been turned into a bench. The popular jewelry made from old typewriter keys and watch faces can be found up front, near the old door that serves as the front counter.
“I love it when people spend hours in here,” said Pattillo. “It’s like saying you’re doing a good job.”
Aprons, vintage bread boxes, door knobs, cookie bins, sinks, hutches, lamps, pillows, cards, cloth flowers and soap are just a sampling of the available items, making the store a place for the shopper with time to spare.
“You can find unique gift ideas at Junk in the Trunk that no one else carries,” said regular customer Yolanda Cookson. “I always take friends from out of town there.”
Pattillo said she has a following of younger girls, who come in to buy birthday presents for their friends. Some jewelry and other trinkets range from an affordable $8 to $12.
Purchased items are artfully packaged in vintage theater popcorn bags with playing cards refashioned as price tags.
Cookson and a host of other customers say they are thrilled that Pattillo is carrying the eco-friendly and hard-to-find Chalk Paint, which is used to spruce up old furniture, walls, ceilings and floors.
Due to its popularity, Pattillo often does “before and after” demonstrations during the Thursday Night Markets. She has also opened a studio for “do-it-yourselfers” in the back of the store.
Pattillo and her husband, Pat, a welder, moved to Nevada County seven years ago from Martinez. Pattillo had spent many years driving a school bus for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, a job she loved.
“I really enjoyed the kids,” she said. “But when the kids I knew on my bus began putting their kids on the bus, I knew it was time for a change.”
After moving to Grass Valley, Pattillo drove the Gold Country Stage until 2010, when she decided to take the plunge and open her 500-square-foot store on Neal Street across from the Del Oro Theatre in downtown Grass Valley.
“I started from scratch,” she said with a smile. “The rent was cheap, and I had nowhere to go but up.”
And up she went.
On July 1, Pattillo relocated to a new, larger location on Mill Street, which has already brought in significantly more foot traffic. Even longtime Grass Valley shoppers are finally stepping into the store for the first time.
“The best part of this venture is that my customers have become friends,” said Pattillo. “And people need to know we can beat Roseville prices — plus we’re cuter.”
To reach Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email Cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.