One person’s junk is this woman’s treasure
By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor
Everyone’s heard the old saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” For Renee Hackmann, that’s a pretty apt statement.
“There’s lots of junk out there that people throw away that I’d love to have,” she said. “I hear horror stories about people burning old woodwork.”
Hackmann has her own business, Limestone Junktion, through which she updates, repurposes and upcycles older furniture and items—everything from mailboxes and ladders to doors and Mason jars.
Her adventure began in 2012, after her son, and final child, graduated from high school.
“I thought, ‘I want to do something that I want to do,’” she explained. “I’d been to flea markets and said, ‘This is an odd item, but it would make a cool light.’ People thought it was amazing that I could come up with something practical out of junk.”
With her family’s blessing, she began her business. Although she had a store in Monona at one point, Hackmann said the number of custom sales she had to work on prevented her from being there all the time. Now, she has occasional sales until she can get her own place again, along with the time to spend there.
Hackmann said she does a lot of custom sales, meaning someone gives her a piece they would like updated. She said cabinetry and barn doors with hardware are currently some of the more popular items she repurposes.
While she enjoys doing the custom work, Hackmann said she would much rather freestyle—work on items she sells at sales—because it gives her more creative freedom.
“I like to make something unique for people, something cool that needs a new home. You don’t want the same old, same old,” she said. “I get more enjoyment from my own ideas. It tends to be more stressful when you want it to be perfect for [someone who wants a custom job].”
Hackmann said she finds her items in a variety of places—flea markets, garage sales, auctions, thrift stores and resale shops.
“Now, I have people contacting me if they have stuff lying around,” she said. “Brent’s (her husband’s) mom let me go out to her farm and pick. She was amazed at what I found because she thought it was junk.”
Someday, said Hackmann, she would like to do some cross country picking, a la the American Pickers. But even around here, some places catch her eye.
“I drive by a lot of farms and places where I’d love to stop and ask,” she said, “but I don’t know if they’ll be welcoming.”
The items she finds go to a “boneyard” or shed. Although it looks like a bunch of junk, Hackmann said it’s handy to have a variety of things around.
“You just never know when you might need something,” she said. “You might find this burlap and say, ‘I’ll pull this old chair out.’”
Even when she’s not working on a project, Hackmann said she can often be found browsing the Internet, looking on sites like Craigslist or Pinterest for items or ideas.
“Even if I find an idea on Pinterest, I like to add a new touch,” she said, explaining that Pinterest has helped her find a lot of tutorials. “I was not taught to paint or anything, so I’ve learned a lot of things through that or trial and error.”
Hackmann said painting is one of the easiest ways to update an item, but cautioned that it should only be done if it’s not covering up old woodwork. With a little work, even some of the most derelict items can be turned into something cool.
“Old things have more character than newer things,” she said. “Even the rusty stuff can make good planters.”
Hackmann’s artistic vision shines through her unique creations. Walking through a store at 100 S. Page St., in Monona, where she will hold a sale on Saturday, March 29, Hackmann points out a shelving unit with croquet mallets for legs, a corner shelf made from doors, a buffet she said would make an interesting entertainment center or even a bathroom vanity.
You can check out Hackmann’s creations on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Shelly from Snappy Turtle Boutique will also have her signs and merchandise available. Hackmann said she hopes to have Limestone Junktion open more often in the future and could possibly open the store by appointment. Until then, stay posted on her sale dates by visiting the Limestone Junktion Facebook page.