Sweet Salvage
In Phoenix, people are always talking about building community and how impossible it is to bring folks together, but Kim Rawlins and Katie Hibbs have the secret.


Not just any junk — we're not talking about your average yard sale or even your favorite thrift store on a really good day. High-quality junk: industrial metal racks, globes, cloches, cake plates, and card catalogs. The stuff you drool over on Pinterest, the stuff Pottery Barn knocks off. The really good junk.

Dulce Juarez
Jamie Peachey
Dulce Juarez
Work by Tlisza Jaurique
Jamie Peachey
Work by Tlisza Jaurique

Fill a warehouse on Seventh Avenue with it. Put out the word on Facebook. And even on one of the hottest days of the year, even without air conditioning, they will come. In droves.

Rawlins and Hibbs were no novices when it came to junk — they'd met years ago in neighboring booths at an antiques mall in Chandler, and before that, Rawlins threw "kick- ass" garage sales in Minnesota, while Hibbs honed her skills on eBay. But they'd never attempted the holy grail — the monthly flash store. After running a successful vintage shop (Not Too Shabby) on Cave Creek Road for years, the two took the next step — renting a spot on Seventh Avenue (prime junking territory), hand-picking dealers and inventory, and choosing a theme.

"Midsummer Night's Dream" debuted August 18, 2011, and given the temperature that day — 118 degrees — it could have been a nightmare. But it wasn't. There was a line out the door before the shop opened, and it's been the same every month since. Even bigger. One of the most gratifying parts of this whole process for Rawlins and Hibbs has been watching community form before their eyes — people meet in (the really long) line to make purchases and recognize one another the following month. Treasures are discovered, friendships are made. And, yeah, there's squabbling from time to time over a particularly wonderful armoire.

Junking is tricky in this part of the country. The state's only 100 years old, after all, Hibbs reminds us, and people have come from other places — leaving their would-be future castaways behind.

And as with many things, it took Phoenicians a while to catch up to the industrial junk trend. But they have. "People think everyone is into kokopellis here," Hobbs says. People are wrong. Feeding the need is the biggest challenge.

"It took a while to get kind of a junk trail here," Rawlins says, and now that she's got one, she's super-mum about it. The ladies admit they drive to California to do much of their hunting but only mention the largest and most obvious sources — the Rose Bowl and Irvine flea markets — when asked for specifics.

Hey, those are trade secrets. In fact, the theme for the next show, opening the third Thursday of April, is "Salvage Secrets." Joanne Palmisano, author of a book of the same name, will be there to do a signing. And Rawlins and Hibbs promise they have a big secret to share with their shoppers.

You'll like it — we promise. — Amy Silverman

Victor Moreno
Victor Moreno remembers sneaking across the street from his parents' house outside Los Angeles to a video store to rent as many B-list movies as he could get his hands on. He saved his money and rented two or three at a time, each for 50 to 75 cents. In a few years, he'd gone through the store's inventory.

Moreno's a proud film buff and easily can talk shop about what's coming out next week as well as what was coming out of Japan in the late '70s. When he moved to Phoenix, he renamed half its destinations after movie and television references (Liberty Market is Mayberry; Paradise Valley is 90210).

And when he finally put his movie obsession together with a love for design, he says, it all kind of clicked.

Moreno, 33, comes from a family of lawyers and moved to Phoenix to go to ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. He'd always been interested in art and film — and taught himself design — but was told (kindly) by his parents that he had to go to "real" school and get a "real" job to support his passion.

He spent the next three years designing websites for Sony and MySpace pages for big-name bands to pay for law school .

He met fellow film nerd Andrea Beesley, who was programming films at the now-defunct Paper Heart in downtown Phoenix. Fast friends, Moreno followed Beesley to MADCAP Theaters in Tempe and then to The Royale. The two worked together on programming events. Beesley and Moreno chose the movies, and Moreno started designing limited-edition movie posters for each event.

He says he designs each poster after watching the movie (more than) a few times and can usually pick a character or scene that sticks out. He'll then either hand-illustrate or use design software on his computer to compose the scene in a way that usually differs from the movie's original poster — and would be something he'd want to hang on his own wall.

The posters became as popular as the movies, and soon Moreno brought other local designers on board. When The Royale closed in December, Beesley took a break and Moreno took his operation back to MADCAP, where he currently heads up Cult Classics, a monthly screening of a cult film with live entertainment and limited-edition prints.

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