By Stefanie Van Wyk
It is often said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This statement definitely rings true in the “junking” or “picking” business. Jeff and Shelley Vander Molen of Sully are the owners of Many Treasures, a business specializing in home liquidations and estate buying services. While they’ve been buying and selling items for the past 15 years, they recently added tag sales to their list of services.
“We love to buy and sell things and help people with their estates and household liquidation processes,” said Shelley, on what propelled the couple into this business. “It is often overwhelming for families to go through belongings of loved ones. We like to make that process easier.”
Jeff and Shelley run their business with help from their adult children and friends, which is invaluable, as the two both work full-time jobs. Jeff is the manager at Lynnville Transport, and Shelley works as the food service director for Lynnville-Sully School.
The couple has three children and are also enjoying being first-time grandparents. Son Jeremy works for Sully Transport and is married to Trisha. The couple has a new baby daughter, Kylie Jo, born July 9. Daughter Morgan works at Surgical Associates in Grinnell, and son Caleb will be a junior at Iowa State University this fall.
In this particular line of work, Shelley says no project is too big or too small.
“Jeff and I do a variety of things in our business,” explained Shelley. “We buy and sell items in a few different ways. We go and buy at auctions, and we will go to people’s homes or businesses and buy their unwanted items. We also conduct tag sales in a client’s home, where we will come in and set up the household contents, price it, and run a sale from the home, which is easier for the owner as nothing needs to be moved. We also come in and make an offer to purchase the entire contents of said home, storage shed, garage, or even just a room. We are very flexible, depending on our customers’ needs.”
In addition to newspaper advertising, the majority of the company’s promotion is done through Facebook and word of mouth from past customers. Their efforts are apparently working, as the Vander Molens stay very busy, attracting customers from all over the state and as far away as South Carolina.
Shelley said their business is “learn as you go,” and they’ve gleaned a wealth of advice from fellow antique and flea market vendors, who have been very willing to help and answer questions. The Vander Molens typically hold monthly barn sales at the buildings they rent north of Sully. Many Treasures is also a regular presence at the What Cheer Flea Market three times a year, as well as the monthly Des Moines Flea Market (held at the fairgrounds) a few times each year.
In addition to these flea markets, Many Treasures is an integral part of what’s quickly becoming a popular semi-annual area event, drawing in increasingly bigger crowds. The event, called Pickers Galore and Pinterest Paradise Sales, features six sales in two towns, Sully and Lynnville, and offers a variety of antiques, primitives, estate finds, repurposed, and the repurposable - anything one might imagine.
“For the past couple years, we’ve held a barn sale Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, along with six other local vendors,” Shelley said. “In addition to our business, collaborators include: All Things Weathered (Abe and Pam Verhey), Riverside Junction (Jaci Vande Krol), Cowboy’s Friend Trash and Treasures (Theresa Lemons and Russ Vander Weerdt), The Storage Shed (Pat Norman), and Lorrie Ludwick.”
In this business, the Vander Molens have bought and sold a little bit of everything and have seen trends change over the years. And while every day is not as exciting as say the TV show “American Pickers” might portray, Shelley does have a few favorite finds over the years.
“I like to watch ‘American Pickers,’ but I think it is somewhat staged,” Shelley said. “I do love to go out and buy stuff like they do, though. I found an amazing antique Murphy bed that I am having refinished to keep for myself. I have found a few rare Iowa advertising crocks that have found new homes with collectors. It is the thrill of the hunt in this job, that is for sure.”
In the couple’s down time, which is increasingly hard to come by these days, Jeff and Shelley enjoy riding motorcycle, camping with their family, and hanging out in their pool.
To view Many Treasures’ for sale items, Shelley encourages readers to follow their Facebook page, as their inventory is constantly changing. Barn and tag sales are also posted on their Facebook page and in the Hometown Press. Happy hunting, collecting, and repurposing!