This November's Big Heap sale will be the last.
Founded in 2012 by Mickey Meulenbeek and Lori Cowherd, the annual shopping event is coming to an end for a simple reason. "Lori got married and moved to Scotland," Meulenbeek says, adding that Cowherd will be back in town for what they're calling the "farewell show."
The final Big Heap marketplace is open from Friday, November 18, through Sunday, November 20, and returns to its roots in Cave Creek. Attendees can expect between 100 and 125 vendors offering everything from odd accent pieces and furniture to jewelry made from scratch, as well as on-site food trucks and activities such as blacksmith demonstrations.
Meulenbeek and Cowherd started the Big Heap as a spin-off of their seasonal Thieves Market event. After becoming friends in Cave Creek, the duo wanted go into business together. “We got along so great, we decided someday … we should work together and do something in the town,” Meulenbeek recalls.
But then, the economic downturn hit. “Everything tanked," Meulenbeek says, "and we were trying to get people to come up to Cave Creek because it’s kind of a destination …You have to be going there for some reason.”
So they put their heads together with another area business owner, Kim Brennan of Big Earl's Greasy Eats, and decided to start a flea market — called Thieves Market — in 2008. The event is now held on the first Saturday of the month from October through April at Big Surf in Tempe.
It was a frequent Thieves vendor who suggested they do a three-day festival. “And of course we did,” Meulenbeek says, referencing the Big Heap.
The idea behind the annual, three-day event is to feature only the most distinct items. “We ask [vendors] to save their best things, their coolest things, their weirdest things,” Meulenbeek says, “We don’t really do any shabby chic, we don’t really do farmhouse chic, that kind of thing. Sorry, Joanna Gaines.”
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Though in the past, the Big Heap was held at places like Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Meulenbeek and Cowherd wanted to do something a little different this time. “It’d be really cool if we could go back to Cave Creek, because everybody loves that funky little town,” Meulenbeek recalls telling Cowherd. “It’s just perfect for us.”
But again, don’t expect the usual vintage and public market-type items with Meulenbeek and Cowherd. Combined, the two have backgrounds in graphic and interior design, marketing, and curating, among other endeavors.
“We really lean toward things that are more design-oriented,” Meulenbeek says. “We’re not interested in your typical Pinterest items. I can’t take it anymore.”
The final Big Heap is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, November 18, Saturday, November 19, and Sunday, November 20, at 3841 North School House Road in Cave Creek . Entry is $7 at the entrance for adults, and free for kids 12 and under. This pet-friendly event also offers free parking. Call 480-329-6118, or visit the Big Heap website for further details.