DAMASCUS, Va. — Just about every piece of furniture in April Jacklet’s artisan decor shop tells a story.
“This was a broken chair. I removed the legs and turned it into a wall shelf,” said the Damascus business owner, as she walked around the spacious showroom brimming with an eclectic personality.
“Here, I took two parts of a table and added legs to make a bench,” she said.
She’s even turned a TV console into a bookshelf on wheels.
That’s the magic of Jacklet, 43, who owns and operates Junkin’ Shenanigans next to Food City in Damascus.
“I love taking things that most people would throw away and turning them into treasures. I like to think of my business as an artisan boutique. I like things made by hand,” she said.
She’s not sure where she gets her creative energy, but transforming someone’s trash into treasures — sometimes with a funky spin — is right up her alley.
The artisan said she’d love to be a competitor on Flea Market Flip, a HGTV series where contestants search flea markets for secondhand items they can buy, fix and flip.
“That would be cool,” she said.
The store owner also does basic upholstery jobs, and she has been commissioned to repair tables, chairs and dressers.
“I repaired a dresser that was literally in pieces. The drawer fronts were off, and I had to redo the whole thing. The customer couldn’t believe it when she picked it up. She was very happy with it.”
Her store carries gift items from across the country, all of which are made in America.
But it’s the Appalachian flavor of artwork that inspires the business owner.
Her store features handmade dulcimers made by Keith Powers of Damascus and wooden flag signs crafted by Jim Beauchamp, a retired Kingsport police officer.
Other consignment items include handmade jewelry and acrylic paintings.
“We’re not a thrift shop — we’re an artisan place. I represent a group of artisans that put their hearts and souls into the products we sell. I try to make things as fairly priced as possible,” Jacklet said.
Before she and her husband, Chad, moved to Damascus in 2018, Jacklet was a military wife whose pastime was to find furniture in disrepair and give it a second life — often transforming the pieces into something unrecognizable.
While living in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Jacklet and a friend scouted for their next masterpieces.
“We’d get some junk and do some shenanigans. We always came up with something new that everyone wanted,” she said with a laugh.
She recently converted a dresser into a table by painting it yellow and attaching an Aztec-themed fabric on the front drawer and side panels.
“The top has a walnut stain. It’s one of those pop-of-color pieces you add to a room.”
Jacklet’s husband helps out with merchandise in the shop.
“He’s like me. He doesn’t like to see something go to waste,” she said.
“Chad added a piece of leftover walnut wood to an old sewing machine base. It made the cutest little desk ever.”
After Jacklet and her husband moved to Southwest Virginia, the artist continued her creative journey by opening her own business in a vacant building on Laurel Avenue in town, later moving in May to her current location for additional work space.
A portion of the showroom is used for refinishing and painting her finds.
“I just got this corner cupboard off the truck,” said Jacklet, who has plans to recreate the drab piece of furniture into something eye-catching.
Jacklet plans to include some do-it-yourself booth spaces at her business, where artists can work on projects away from home.
She’s spreading the word about her artisan hub by hosting community craft classes.
“We recently had a tea light class where we turned wine glasses upside down and painted them to look like pumpkins. We added tea lights on top of the stems.”
Occasionally, the business owner hosts what she calls an artist “boot camp” that allows artisans to stay for a few hours and come back the next day to finish their projects.
“You also can rent my tools and my space for the day to work,” said Jacklet.
Part of her supplies includes two paint lines, Dixie Bell and Unicorn Spit, both companies created by American women.
As Jacklet continues to build a local vendor business, she is focusing on becoming a go-to store for Christmas shopping this year.
“I’m working on building gift ideas. I want to keep it local and keep revenue in Damascus. If we can keep it local, it will help the town and bring others here to shop,” she said.
“I’d love to see Damascus be more than a five-month out-of-the-year place,” she said.
Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at email@example.com.