JUNK GYPSIES: DIY sisters turn trash into treasures


Amie Sikes, left, and sister Jolie park their 1980 pink Suburban mascot, Large Marge the Party Barge, at their Junk Gypsy store in Round Top. The Sikes family bought the vehicle from the Overton, Texas school district for $300 at auction after the sisters had graduated. Amie and Jolie and their hometown classmates rode in it to school events. (Jay Godwin photo)

By Denise Gamino
Amie and Jolie Sikes made a future for themselves by having a blast with the past. The creative and savvy sisters — educated at Texas A&M University but not a perfect fit in the 9-to-5 universe — salvaged their hearts and tons of flea market goods to become reigning queens of the junk pile. 
Their Junk Gypsy business is headquartered in part of a 7,000-square-foot scrap-metal mansion outside Round Top in the Fayette County area that attracts 100,000 visitors each spring and autumn for huge roadside antique shows. The Junk Gypsy store is more carnival midway than mall. Much of the merchandise is upcycled from flea markets: red glittered bowling pins, “chippy peely” refurbished furniture, vintage signs, oil paintings of unknown origin, beaded chandeliers, plumed band hats — the load goes on forever. 
The Junk Gypsies can turn any piece of junk into an unexpected fixer-upper coveted by Nashville stars, free spirits and road-tripping shoppers. 
Country singers Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton hired Amie and Jolie to decorate their 2011 wedding reception. Amie and Jolie also remodeled Lambert’s tour bus and Airstream travel trailer. Airstream makeovers are a regular gig: one for country star Dierks Bentley, another for Lambert’s mother, and one for new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Green Day. 
You can catch the DIY sisters in action on their cable show, with a third season debuting this summer. Expect the unexpected. Viewers have seen miniature antique sailing ships become chandeliers for Amie’s house and windmill blades become a ceiling fan for Jolie’s house. 
Junk Gypsy is a national brand. The sisters design for Pottery Barn Teen, and their natural furniture paint arrives in stores this spring. 
“So many things have happened since we’ve been here (in Round Top). It’s unreal,” Amie said. “We’re so much more content and so much happier and more at peace, and I think all that just kind of conveys through the business.” 
The Junk Gypsies moved to Round Top from College Station in 2009 so their children could grow up in a small town. Their 40-acre Gypsyville property includes the Wander Inn, a rustic lodge scheduled to open to the public later this year, and a 20,000-square-foot barn that houses a workshop and the junk inventory. The sisters’ parents — Phillip (a lifelong woodworker) and Janie Sikes, whose secondhand shopping inspired the business — work alongside their daughters. Junking was more a calling than a career choice. 
Amie and Jolie grew up in Overton in East Texas, mopping floors and tossing pizzas in the family restaurant. Amie used her journalism degree to work as a legislative aide at the Texas Capitol and was headed to law school. Jolie’s degree in biomedical science and master’s in health and nutrition were leading to medical school. But cubicles didn’t compare with the creative joy of flea market crawls they’d done with their mother since childhood. 
They quit their jobs and began full-time junking in 1998 with $2,000 and no business plan. Their first booth at the sprawling First Monday Trade Days in Canton was a flop — not one sale. 
“Thank goodness we didn’t give up,” Jolie said. “Thank goodness we take rejection well.” 
They treated rejection like junk. They brushed it off, created a different look and gave it a new destiny.

This is one in a series of profiles of Bluebonnet commercial accounts.

Junk Gypsy World Headquarters
1215 S. Texas 237
Round Top, TX 78954
979-249-JUNK (5865)
Junk Gypsies on HGTV and Great American Country
Summer 2015, 13 new half-hour episodes

Spring 2015 Texas Antiques Week
Junk Gypsy tent at Zapp Hall in Warrenton
March 26-April 4
Junk Gypsy’s semi-annual Junk-o-Rama Prom
April 2, 2015 at twilight

Junk Gypsy tent, Warrenton
Free admission

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