Product obsolescence and online crafting tutorials nourish an audience of patient, prowling “reinventors.” At weekend-long salvage sales throughout the Valley of the Sun, cast-offs from private estates and defunct factories become armchair designers’ newfound material. Want to see and try for yourself? Here’s when and where for the month of November 2014; consult respective websites for subsequent dates.
Thieves Market: This once-monthly parking-lot event wrangles three merchandise types: flea market, swap meet and craft fair. Attendees are just as versatile, with tattooed rockabilly girls and sentimental grannies among them. Spotted at last month’s event: riveted (and rather riveting) metal panels from airplanes and automobiles, garden ornaments made of cups and saucers fused to copper pipe, and hardcover books sawed into letterforms. Admission 8-9 am is $6; thereafter it’s $3. 1500 N. McClintock Dr., Tempe (south of McKellips Rd. in Big Surf lot)
Nov. 1 & 8
The Salvage Co.: A small suburban barn in the East Valley is the site of a mixed market of raw materials, well-worn specimens and reborn works that has transitioned from one open weekend to two separate Saturdays per month. Spotted on a late-September date: galvanized troughs and buckets (some rusty, some not), barnwood boxes and punched-copper lanterns. Free admission. 3080 S. Higley Rd., Gilbert (between Williams Field & Pecos Rds.)
Front Porch Pickins: “Some of these booths will boast collections compiled over the course of 60 years,” says Jami Byrne, one of the organizers of this first-time, 200-vendor salvage sale booked in the West Valley. Free admission. Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria (south of Bell Rd.)
Old Brick House Vintage Market: A lot of cool old clutter is assembled inside a glorified garage “behind” Mesa’s Main Street. It’s the kind of stuff that, when observed by intergenerational shopping pairs, sparks curious conversations about bygone days. Spotted at last month’s event: out-of-date world globes, wreaths made from deconstructed books, a charmingly decrepit oil can—and one of the show’s designers climbing a precarious ladder to a narrow loft, from which she assessed the layout of the sales floor and issued instructions for fine-tuning. Free admission. 37 W. Main St., Mesa (enter from alley south of Main St.)
Sweet Salvage: A large warehouse with open rafters gets transformed into a series of cozy vignettes for four days each month. Designer-staged exhibits are restocked or at least rearranged so that they remain enticing into the sale’s third and fourth days. Spotted at last month’s event: pumpkins painted baby blue, a leather-and-metal kilt that could have belonged to a chariot racer, and numbered tabs from old-fashioned cash registers. Make note to find this neighborhood, nicknamed “Melrose on 7th Avenue,” even if Sweet Salvage isn’t in session; lots of vintage furniture and antiques shops maintain near-daily hours of business. Free admission. 4648 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix (south of Camelback Rd.)
The Big Heap: Vendors from several states haul their treasures to this sprawling expo, be they ready-to-use vintage furniture, period clothing and estate jewelry, cast-off items in need of restoration, or odds and ends ripe for clever reinvention in steampunk assemblages and 3-D scrapbooks. Companions not so into scrounging—er, shopping—may be distracted by a fashion “parade,” live jazz and and food trucks also on hand. Admission is $7. Salt River Fields, 7555 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale (exit Loop 101 at Via de Ventura or Indian Bend)
For a starter list of locally operated brick-and-mortar shops to look for charismatic treasures almost anytime, see Ripe for Reinvention—with Regular Business Hours.