If you blink while driving through Boone County, Indiana, you might miss Advance. Yet, this small, rural town consisting of but a few hundred people is home to the storefront of Sid’s famous junque business, Boone County Uniques. Sid believes and has proven that location isn’t necessarily what makes a business successful.
His business has taken many shapes and names over the years, but at the heart of it, Sid is a traveling salesman, and not in the traditional sense. He’s been buying, rebuilding, repurposing, and selling everything from architectural salvage to pots and pans since he was five years old. His uncle and his father taught the Salem, Indiana native the trade, beginning with refinishing furniture.
“My uncle taught me to look at something not for what it is, but for what it could be,” remembers Sid. “I was doing the Pinterest thing before Pinterest was ever around.”
He considers himself somewhat of a gypsy. For years, he has traveled the country selling unique, antique, wholesale, and items of all kinds at flea markets. “There is definitely a culture to it. You never know who you’re going to meet. There are a lot of just good, fun people.”
Sid’s favorite event is the 127 Yard Sale—the world’s longest yard sale, covering over 690 miles from Michigan to Alabama. He camps out for four days in Junction City, Kentucky every August to sell his wares and to meet people from all sides of the U.S. Networking with people at events like these is Sid’s specialty.
“You don’t have to give away all of your secrets, but where do you get all of this stuff?” I had to inquire, because even at the greatest of auctions, I’ve never been able to obtain a haul like the ones so often featured on the Boone County Uniques page where Sid’s truck is stacked, packed, and piled high with furniture after a day of pickin’. The man literally doesn’t even have to tie the stuff down—that’s how crazy it is.
“Mostly individuals,” he replies casually.
I marvel at the dozens of stacks of business cards displayed on his counter, representing small business owners like himself. “So you just know a lot of people with a lot of stuff.” When you’ve been doing this for as long as he has and when you love meeting people as much as Sid does, you get to know a lot of people…with a lot of stuff.
“There can’t be competition in this business. We have to help each other. If there’s something I don’t have that a customer is looking for, I can send them over to you, and one day, you’ll send a customer over my way.”
Photo courtesy of Boone County Uniques
In the past, Sid has organized flea markets with as many as 300 vendors. He wanted to bring a true, unique flea market to the Boone County area, so he organized Robin Eye Country Flea Market a few years ago on his niece’s property in Whitestown, Indiana. It grew to include dozens of shabby chic, primitive, antique, and vintage vendors and was a favorite weekend activity for junquers from all over the Indianapolis area from the spring through the fall.
When the property was sold, Sid found a storefront property in the little town of Advance. He planned on using the building for storage, but people took notice. Boone County Uniques was born in 2014 when he decided to open the doors for business a few days a week. People who knew Sid from Robin Eye can now find the same great deals on items that can’t be found anywhere else on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays at Boone County Uniques. You also won’t find the same items on any given visit, as merchandise moves quickly through the packed store, and Sid is constantly procuring new items and working on new projects. The flea market still takes place every first Saturday of the month behind the store.
Photo courtesy of Boone County Uniques
People come from far and wide for the unbeatable selection and prices at the flea market. A mother and daughter travel from Austin, Texas every first Saturday during Boone County Unique’s flea market season, while another couple from Illinois never misses a sale.
In between days at the store, you can find Boone County Uniques at pop-up markets and fleas anywhere from Nashville, Tennessee to the legendary Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana. After all, Sid is still a gypsy at heart. To him, this business isn’t a job—it’s a way of life.
Boone County Uniques setting up their booth at the Hobnob Holiday Market in Danville, IL. Photo courtesy of Boone County Uniques.
Check out Boone County Uniques at 104 N. Main St., Advance, IN. Like and follow them on Facebook to see where you can find them at their next pop-up market!