Hot Junk vintage clothing store opens in Salisbury
By Katie Scarvey
It’s a Friday evening, and Salisbury’s latest main street shop, Hot Junk is ….well, a hot place to be.
In what used to be the Christian Science Reading Room, Hot Junk owner Joseph Medlin has created a cozy, hip haven for the thrifty clothing shopper. Adding to the funky ambience is a friendly Weimaraner who has the run of the place.
Customer April Byrd is in the dressing room, trying on jeans. She’ll eventually leave with a pair; in fact, most of the shoppers who come in over the next hour will leave with something.
A group of 20-ish young people comes in. One of them, Patrick Taylor, announces: “We’re looking for thrift stores today.”
“Well, I happen to be one,” Joseph says, welcoming them in.
Hot Junk, Joseph says, is a place for people who like nice things but who don’t want to spend a ton of money.
He sells recycled and re-used clothing, including vintage items. “Vintage” might mean different things to different people, but for Joseph, vintage means from the 1970s or earlier. Clothing from the late 1950s and 1960s is his favorite, he says. He’s particularly drawn to pieces that have clean, classic lines.
His goal is to eventually make Hot Junk a true vintage clothing store, with no contemporary items. He also likes mid-century furniture and would like to sell that as well.
So far, people have been enthusiastic about his store, and he’s already got repeat customers ó like Mandy Monath, who popped in last Friday afternoon.
“This is my new favorite store,” she said. “I love it.”
Mandy likes the personal attention customers get at Hot Junk. Joseph wants to please his customers, which means asking them what they want and then finding items for them.
Mandy came in with a J. Crew catalogue in hand and told Joseph, “This is the kind of clothing I like.”
No problem, he said.
Mandy’s customer profile ó cool mom, looking for sort of preppy clothes ó is much different from that of Patrick, who’s younger, sporting facial piercings and looking for edgier styles. Just like the store, the customers are an eclectic mix.
Patrick decides to try on a black and gray camouflage shirt.
The consensus in the store is that it suits him.
(Joseph has created the kind of atmosphere where other shoppers feel comfortable weighing in.)
“I like this dude’s prices,” Patrick says. “This is my kind of store.” Just about everything is less than $20, with many pieces in the $8 range.
Joseph keeps up a banter with his young customers as they try things on. He makes suggestions, brings them items and generally creates an upbeat experience for all involved.
“Trying it on is the fun part,” he says. But, he warns jokingly, “Once you own it, the fun might go away.”
Patrick’s girlfriend Taren Fregosi tries on two dresses, a red one and a black one. Patrick, not surprisingly, likes the clingy red one. Taren and her friend Jessie Shoemaker like the black one. Which to choose?
“We’ll figure it out together; we’ll work as a family,” he says, clearly having fun.
At some point, Joseph’s father ó Joseph Medlin Sr. ó comes in to take Joseph’s dog out to dinner. He’s wearing a jaunty cap and it’s not hard to figure out where his son gets his sense of style.
Hot Junk carries both women’s and men’s clothing and accessories. Joseph gets his stock from New York and Miami . He’s got people ó his “street team,” he calls them ó who are always on the lookout for him.
Recycled clothing, Joseph says, doesn’t need to be “cheap and dirty.”
His customers know that when they come into his shop, they won’t have to “sift through trash” to find the treasure.
They will have to sort through sizes though ó Joseph purposely does not hang his inventory according to size. He wants the shopper’s experience to truly be a “treasure hunt.”
Joseph grew up in Brooklyn and has lived in Manhattan and Miami. His background is in retail, from management to display to marketing and sales.
He’s lived in Salisbury for 1 1/2 years. Shortly after he moved here, his parents, Joseph and Bessie, and sister Tamala followed suit, buying a house in Fulton Heights. Joseph lives on North Main Street.
For now, running Hot Junk is Joseph’s second job ó he works in Concord doing marketing and branding for Empire Education, one of the country’s largest providers of professional cosmetology education.
Hot Junk’s hours are a little unusual because ó for now anyway ó Joseph has to work them around his regular job. He’d like to someday devote his energy full time to Hot Junk, and he hopes business will be brisk enough to necessitate moving to a larger space.
Joseph says that many people have asked him why he didn’t choose Charlotte to launch his business. He tells them he preferred Salisbury, for its character and potential. And he loves the people he’s met in Salisbury, which he calls a “lovely secret.”
And what about that unusual name: Hot Junk?
Joseph says he wanted something “short and catchy” and easy to remember that would create a buzz.
He’s been asked if his stuff is hot as in stolen ó an idea he finds amusing.
After all, who in their right mind would advertise that they’re selling stolen goods?
Joseph’s inventory is only hot in the sense of being desirable.
Hot Junk, located at 205 S. Main St., is open 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 2-9 p.m Friday and Saturday; and 3-6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 704-633-7900.
By Katie Scarvey firstname.lastname@example.org It’s a Friday evening, and Salisbury’s latest main street shop, Hot Junk is ….well, a hot... read more