Jewell: A treasure trove for antique shoppers
Hamilton County stores take part in Junk Jaunt
If you have ever been one to need help finding inspiration for home decor or just that one unique piece to really make your house a home, by checking out the Central Iowa Junk Jaunt this Sept. 14-16 in Jewell, the local shop owners hope to help shoppers find what they didn’t even know they were missing.
This annual fall vintage road trip will take shoppers to other surrounding small towns during the weekend event, but in recent years, Jewell has become it’s own hub for antique and vintage shops that were worth exploring a little further.
Gravy Home Goods has been around since Oct. 2013 and is owned by Joan Fairchild. Fairchild refers to her shop as vintage repurposed instead of antique, selling harvest style items, such as the tables that her husband makes and other modern industrial items. Fairchild is one of the shop owners who opted to live in a residence above her shop when the vintage repurpose market became as lucrative as it did. Like most small town shops, owners need the work week to replenish their stock of repurposed pieces and are able to make a profit just being open on the weekends, said Fairchild. The way that Gravy Home Goods differs from a store that may sell more collectibles or antique dishes, is due to it’s design aesthetic. Fairchild referred to the items she sells in her shop as more from the 70’s era, with pops of Bohemian, nomad inspiration.
“I sell more earthy items with natural elements tied in, definitely not the chintzy, shabby chic look,” said Fairchild.
She sells a lot of barn wood harvest tables, locally crafted or handmade items, and repurposed furniture pieces.
The store name comes from the feeling you get when eating comfort food and one type of food garnish that people tend to enjoy is gravy, hence the name Gravy Home Goods. Fairchild said she hopes you leave store with a piece that brings “comfort and enjoyment.”
DK Soap and Design Studio
DK Soap and Design Studio is another stop to make during your Junk Jaunt road trip through Jewell. The DK part stands for “Dirty Kid,” which co-owner Rachel Uttecht created when she and a friend decided to make handmade soap as a side hobby and started selling them at the Ames Farmers Market. She had sold her soaps at other junk shows, arts and crafts fairs, and farmers makets as well. The business grew and after Uttecht bought her partner out of her share of the business, she teamed up with her husband, Jeremy Uttecht, to create the DK Soap and Design Studio in Jewell when a prime location opened up in 2017. With her husband doing the design portion of the business, she was able to perfect her handmade soaps.
Uttechts’ soaps have even been featured in Gravy Home Goods shop as well, with different names holding significant meanings to Gravy’s shopowner, given to each handmade bar of soap.
Shoppers will see a large selection of handmade soaps in DK Soap, as well as homemade oils, sprays, and deodorants. The design portion of the shop creates printed graphics on dictionary and map prints. They also sell mugs and t-shirts with their own designs as well.
“We tend to see younger urban couples buying our inventory. We do sell some antiques, but 50 percent of the business is the handmade soaps. We do sell a lot of the prints in our booths at different junk shows, too,” said Uttecht. “We will also outsource for other products, like made from scratch noodles and jellies. If you can’t find anything to buy in our shop, at least you can buy something to eat.”
During the Junk Jaunt, DK Soap and Design Studio will also have a whimsical wine trailer set up for those old enough to partake during the antiquing experience.
Gin and Tarnish
Another shop to stop at while in Jewell, would be Gin and Tarnish owned by Clare Schwager. The brick and mortar location in Jewell has been opened since Nov. 2017, but Schwager started selling her items in 2014 at area junk and antique shows, as well as out of a shed behind her mom’s own antique shop, J.B. Knackers located in Gilbert.
“Antiques were a part of my childhood growing up, with my mom owning her own shop. There were times the family vehicle would be more full of antiques than kids when going on road trips, so it kind of just happened organically that I would own my own shop,” said Schwager.
The name came from a love of the cocktail, Gin and Tonics and an old family name, Thanisch, that was later changed to Tarnish when coming to America, according to Schwager. The word tarnish also fit in terms of how some metallic antiques would gain a type of rust or tarnish to them as they aged.
The design aesthetic of her shop, according to Schwager, is Bohemian meets industrial meets modern farmhouse. Repurposed items or found items make up a lot of the inventory sold in her shop. Persian rugs, vintage sofas, and brass candlesticks can be seen adorning her shop, with some items coming from the midwest or even overseas.
“I think having a story with each item makes the item more special. I want people to have fun with what they buy and to be inspired with that individual piece,” said Schwager.
Mustard Seed Revival
One of the final stops to make within town on your vintage inspired road trip, is at the Mustard Seed Revival, owned by couple Maranda and Caleb Van Cleave. The Mustard Seed Revival has been open since July 2017 at its current location, but actually began as a side business for the couple when they began selling items at pop up shows and the Ames Farmers Market.
Van Cleave had a love of taking a “piece of junk and giving it life again.” Both Van Cleave and her husband have full time jobs outside of their shop, with her husband working at a dentist’s office across the street and Van Cleave working in the school setting, but it was a passion of hers to own her own brick and mortar shop in a small town setting, where they could display vintage in the best way possible, said Van Cleave.
When stepping inside her shop, one will find a lot of repurposed items, some architectural pieces, and currently some whisky barrel rings made into shelving, as well as a mini coffee bar called the Mustard Bean, where people can sit and enjoy a hot beverage by the fireplace. Van Cleave thinks that all types of shops are important, because they each have their own individual flare or way of inspiring customers, she said.
“I love the natural conversations that are started with all of my customers, and that sense of finding another kindred spirit who is a lover of all things vintage,” said Van Cleave. “Most of the time they are just looking for pieces that have character and a story that they can fill their homes with.”
The name, according to Van Cleave, came from a bible verse, stating that “faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains,” and the “revival” part of the name comes from bringing things back to life, which is what repurposing antiques is all about.
“There’s been this type of revival in Jewell of bringing that small town feel back to Main Street, and this type of shift to find that off the beaten path gem,” stated Van Cleave. “All of us small town shop owners pride ourselves on community. Now Jewell is a destination to go for vintage.”
A Touch of Rustic in Rural Stratford is also part of the upcoming Junk Jaunt.