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Meet Kathleen Lenihan of Junk For Joy, Halloween & Vintage in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathleen Lenihan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I retired from twenty-six years of teaching kindergarten just as my son prepared to leave for college. Suddenly, I found myself an empty nester looking for a new sense of purpose.

My interest in wardrobe started in high school when I costumed the school’s production of “George M. Cohen” and continued into college where I created wardrobe for the theatre department. My BA was in Art & Art History and my artwork mixed mediums and played with genre. This same approach helped generate unique costumes for the school plays. But what I enjoyed most about the process was collaborating with different departments for a united purpose – to create a character. When my children were young, I sewed all their costumes for school plays, live-action reports, and cosplay conventions. Halloween costumes were homemade, never repeated, and always original.

I had known the founders of Junk For Joy for years. When they decided to retire, I realized the opportunity to take over the shop became that purpose – and new adventure – I was awaiting.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Junk For Joy first opened its doors at the old Schwab’s Drugstore in 1976 before moving to its current Magnolia Blvd. location. The original owner was a prolific collector and the biggest challenge I faced, as the new owner, was learning 40+ years’ worth of merchandise.

Customers are greeted with an immense amount of “stuff” when they walk through our doors. Our backroom and storage space, however, is more than triple the showroom. Simply knowing what we have and its location was no easy feat. I immediately set out to familiarize and organize over 10,000 sq. feet of inventory… and three years later, I’m nearly there!

My next task was to modernize and create an online presence. The business had previously run using pen & paper methods, so after bringing in a computer, I built the website and set out to connect with customers via social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Customers can now shop us online through our website which features deadstock accessories and one-of-a-kind vintage clothes. We also have an Etsy shop showcasing our most desirable and high-end pieces.

Please tell us about Junk For Joy, Halloween & Vintage.
Above all, Junk For Joy is a family-run small business. Everyone helps: my children, my husband, my mom, even our dog! It’s not unusual to see three generations working behind the counter.

We specialize in one-of-a-kind vintage, duplicate deadstock items, studio wardrobe, and unique costumes. It is our customer service, however, that truly sets us apart.

We enjoy collaborating with customers to help create their desired looks. At Junk For Joy, we work with the individual – like a personal stylist – culling unique pieces that reflect a shopper’s distinct personality. And we have been known to go out of our way to track down requested items long after customers have left the store.

Wardrobe costumers, musicians, cosplayers, party-goers, festival fashionistas, vintage aficionados, and the average shopper looking to incorporate unique finds into their wardrobe can all find something at Junk For Joy.

I am most proud of the relationships we’ve developed within the community and our reputation as a fun, friendly, and accommodating place to shop. Let me give you an example.

I had a shopper on a quest to find the perfect “featured costume” for his upcoming Burning Man trip, but was at a lost for where to start. We worked together, digging through barrels and scanning racks, until stumbling upon a vintage red/white/blue jumpsuit and cape. About two months later, he came back to the shop with the sole intent to say “thank you” and give me a big hug. He shared photos of his experience and described how his costume became a talking point leading to introductions, new friends, and pure love for his Burning Man experience. I was moved by his gratitude and affected by his joy. That’s what this little shop is all about.

We believe shopping here is about more than just finding a costume; it’s about the joy people feel when their creativity is unleashed.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Red/ White/ Blue jumpsuit & cape: @MO7S
Ring Master & Dog: @chloelenihan
All other photos: @junk4joy

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