Junk in love with Junk & Disorderly

Husband and wife duo Nicole and Richard Stewart’s 140,000 square foot treasure trove, aptly named Junk & Disorderly, is an assault on the senses. It’s a hoarder’s greatest fantasy - and a neat freak’s worst nightmare.

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Upon first entering the shop, your eyes move back, forth, up and down as you try to take in the endless vintage trinkets that dangle from the ceiling, walls and fill the floor.

Modern marquee lights are side by side with taxidermied animals, clocks and surfboards. Chairs, tools and tennis rackets hang from the ceilings. Opposite a trendy wall print, there’s old, battered bowling pins.

Junk & Disorderly is 24 years old. It was born out of the Stewarts’ passion for collecting things and the thrill of the chase.


Junk & Disorderly owners Richard and Nicole

“It sounds cliché that you don’t know what each day’s going to bring, but you truly don’t know what’s going to be in the bottom of the box,” Nicole Stewart says.

“Today I might find the greatest piece of treasure I’ve ever had or I might find nothing. It’s always exciting.”

If you’re after an obscure item, Junk & Disorderly probably has it: the shop is home to cabinets, couches, mannequins, clothes, records, shoes, magazines and books of varying ages, although the majority are vintage.

The company is currently in its fifth location, all of which have been in Northcote on the North Shore. The ample space has allowed the Stewarts to create a truly unique experience.

Stewart says the space has allowed them to merchandise their stock better, creating areas that are set up with couches, tables and accessories to look like a lounge room.

This strategy is more effective than stacking items on top of each other, she says, as people like to visualise what they’re buying.

Tucked away towards the back of the store is the Coffee Caravan, a separate business run by owner Lisa Thwaite out of Junk & Disorderly’s premises.

The coffee shop was only open on weekends when it first begun and now because of its popularity, it’s open six days a week.

Stewart says that a lot of local business people come in for their morning coffee, as the shop is in the middle of an industrial area.

“It’s really opened up our own community and we’ve gotten to know the workers around us,” she says.

“I think the coffee makes it an experience rather than just another shopping venture. People can come for coffee and have a look at stuff, but not have to buy.”

On the weekends, shoppers are treated to live music wafting into all the acoustic nooks and crannies of the store.

Stewart says the music enhances the customer’s experience and gives people more of a reason to visit.

“You can feel the whole vibe in the shop change when the music is on, it slows the whole shop experience down,” she says.

“Instead of people rushing through the shop you can see them unwind and do everything else a little bit slower and there’s more reason to stay and listen to another song.”

The couple work hard to seek out new treasures for the shop. They scour markets, auctions and even have scouts keeping an eye out for pieces overseas.

Stewart says they’ve had to starting branching out to Australia to find more treasures, as the volume of stock they’re turning over is so vast.

Their third container of vintage pieces from across the ditch is arriving in store in the next couple of weeks.

She says industrial furniture is extremely popular. Examples include metal trolleys with a bit of grunge, or work benches that can be used in retail fit outs or kitchens.

Furniture and decorations from the shop have been featured on DIY shows, such as ‘The Block New Zealand’ and ‘Our First New Home.’

Junk & Disorderly’s customer demographic is hard to nail down.

Stewart says shoppers vary from young kids who come in with Mum and Dad through to the elderly, who like to come in and reminisce.

“There’s no demographic of social or economic or age groups, it’s completely across the board,” she says.

“There could be a brand new car outside or there could be a car outside with no warrant and no registration. It makes it really exciting because we meet such a broad range of people.”

She says their strong social media following is made up of people from around the country, who can’t make it into the store.

Out of towners lusting after Junk & Disorderly’s products are part of the reason the Stewarts are launching their online shop this year.

It will only sell new items, as the online selling process doesn’t lend itself to vintage.

“We get one-of-a-kind vintage products, so for me to take a photo of it, price it and put it online, we probably would’ve sold it in-store before that whole process was over,” Stewart says.

With all the one-off treasures that land in the store, it begs the question: how good is the self-discipline of two self-confessed vintage junkies when they see something they like?

A little bit out of control, says Stewart.

“We have a rule now if something goes home, something comes back. There’s a rotation that happens,” she says. 

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This article was originally published on our sibling website, TheRegister.co.nz