To call Sunset Junque just another antique shop would do it a grave disservice. It's more like a musuem meets sideshow meets antique mall. The lush green landscape hides antique iron gates and doors, concrete saints with arms outstretched (sans hands), vintage signage, and several small buildings with even more oddities and antiques to puruse.
The familiar "Antiques" sign, spelled out using letters from former words of title, sits along Blue Star Highway just about 6 miles north of town, giving just a little hint as to what lies beyond. The location has been here for nearly 3 decades, tempting drivers-by with oversized amusement park castoffs sitting roadside alongside the perfectly-pieced together sign; in recent years past it was a giant yellow kangaroo that beckoned. After driving by the sign, and formerly the jaundiced marsupial, for the past nine years, I finally pulled into the little roadside lot in search of the perfect addition to my fledgling garden.
Ray, the proprietor of Sunset Junque for the past 27 years, focuses on Architectural Salvage when he's stocking up for the season, which he does every winter in warmer states, like Florida. Throughout the teak doors, iron fences, and fiberglass figures he's curated, you'll find exotic, imported pieces; one-of-a-kind, handmade artwork; and possibly the perfect addition to your home. Don't expect to see normal, everyday antiques when you stop in, however. While the inventory is always changing, on the day I visited, I found an Egyptian sarcophagus next to a Big Bird Painting, near a mid-century modern chandelier. A small building near the road houses a fairly large LP collection, vintage baubles, and a Victoria Beckham Spice World doll. A price tag that hangs from the antlers of forelorn-looking deer pronounce it's death via shotgun in 1957.
Amid the seemingly haphazardly placed "junque," I stumbled upon a table full of metal and plastic letters representing businesses of yesteryear waiting to find new life. Under a shady spot, I found a gazing mermaid perched on the edge of a bed of flowers. A box of old ceramic tiles sat on a wheeled cart in the middle of a grassy path. While it may look unintentional at first, upon further exploration and a chat with Kim (who I think may be Ray's partner, but don't quote me), it was clear to see that a lot of love and care went into collecting and displaying these items. If not for the presence of price tags, it was easy to imagine I was walking through a musuem of oddities and not a place where you can actually buy said oddities to enjoy at home.
As a fan of religious iconography and architecture, I fell in love with an old confessional that sits just inside one of the small buildings that dot the property. I imagine it within my home as a private reading room. An old stone slab in a forgotten corner of the yard presented a beautiful, floral crown adorned Buddha bust peacfully pleading to be taken home.
While Ray told me that their stock is a bit low right now, there are still tons of interesting and unique pieces waiting to be picked. If you walk out empty handed, it's because you had your eyes closed the whole time. Around every corner is a new, insanely unexpected conversation starter that would love to go home with you. Make sure to stop by Sunset Junque and tell 'em Brett from Old Harbor Inn sent ya.
-Brett, Old Harbor Inn Front Desk and Maintenance