A consignment and vintage store located in a historic building in downtown Sonora will close within a month.
Funky Junk owner Micki Rucker said she decided not to pursue a lease with the new building owner.
“I don’t want to be obligated for ‘x’ period of time,” she said. “It's just the right time to go.”
The sale is in escrow, said Pam Holly of Coldwell Banker Mother Lode, who declined to name the buyer.
According to county records, the land and 6,500-square-foot structure were valued at $577,000 in 2016 while it was owned by Stockton resident John Bevanda.
“It's not a little tiny building, it's one of the biggest buildings that was built in the 1850s. It's kind of iconic. There’s only been a couple people that have actually owned and been inside there,” said Holly said.
Bevanda passed away in August 2018.
Rucker said that in addition to selling craft homewares, jewelry and vintage clothing, the store promoted philanthropy during local crises such as the Butte Fire in 2015.
Each day during the fire, the store teemed with clothes, animal care products and feed, all given by locals and tourists passing through Sonora.
Rucker and her manager, Chris Lusardi, led a donation transport to Burson, Jackson and Mountain Ranch at least twice a day over three weeks.
What Rucker told the contributors was close to what she told the more than 600 consignors who sold clothes, trinkets and antiques in her shop over its eight years: “If you have something to give, bring it to Funky Junk.”
Funky Junk is tentatively expected to close on April 8, Rucker said.
Among the reasons for her departure is a creeping anxiety about the economic health of downtown Sonora when the Tuolumne County Superior Court moves to the new Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road in the next years.
“When they go, a lot of the people who mill around here aren’t going to be here anymore,” she said. “At what point when they leave, it’s going to be a huge factor on the entire downtown area.”
The past year was slower for the business due to the Donnell and Ferguson fires and the temporary closure of Yosemite National Park, she said, but finances was not chief among her reasons for closing.
“I have nothing bad to say about Sonora. This is a big shop. I think with a new landlord coming in, this would just be in a new vibe,” she said. “Sonora is a great city, I just hope with all these other stores closing, for whatever reason, I hope we get new blood. We need it.”
Rucker pointed to the closing of the Banyan Tree and other businesses as indicators the dynamics of the downtown marketplace were in flux.
She said the Green Dog Brewing Company on South Green Street would have been a positive step to promoting the city as a destination, but when it didn’t open, merchant confidence took a hit.
She remained disappointed that the city has not improved downtown parking or provided more public restrooms, she added.
“I don’t want to blame economics,” she said. “But the dynamics, I feel, have changed here over the last eight years.”
Rucker moved Funky Junk into the Mundorf building on 71 South Washington Street in August 2014 after operating next to Downtown Shoes for three years, she said.
Many businesses have operated from the site, known for its broad window display and central downtown location.
A sign that “John Mundorf’s Eureka Bazaar and Cheap Cash Store” still hangs outside Funky Junk to commemorate the mercantile business operated by the Mundorf family from the late 1850s to the late 1920s, according to Union Democrat records. The business carried groceries, hardware and other home goods, and the Mundorf family lived above the store.
The business was purchased by Chris Holman in the late 1920s, and they kept the Mundorf name until Sonora Music and Creative Learning Aids moved into the building in 1995, Union Democrat records said.
Lusardi said she and Rucker feel emotionally connected to their time in the store, to the consignors and to the nine vendors who lease space on the recessed bottom level of the store.
“We’re hoping that someone comes in and keeps it the way it is,” Lusardi said.
Holly said the new owner planned to keep the area as a retail space.
“We are the process of looking for a tenant,” she said. “It's not going to be a restaurant in other words.”
Lusardi and Rucker both added that their intention with the business was to stay local and promote the artistic talents of the community. Some of the merchandise — including an analog clock with pennies set into wood — were built by consignors as young as grade school.
On Monday, Funky Junk teemed with activity as customers roamed the store and consignors were given the news of the closing.
A row of finches, cockatiels and other birds chirped. A poster of Janis Joplin leaned against the wall, typewriters were stacked on a shelf and a copy of Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” poked out from a row of vinyl records. Misty, the store cat, and Chewie, the store dog, roamed past a pair of roller skates, an antique trumpet, and axes.
“We get funky things in here all the time,” Rucker said.
Rucker said she plans to remain in Tuolumne County, and added she bought an recreational vehicle for vacationing.
“I’ll probably do something with Funky Junk down the road, but I have no plans for another storefront on South Washington.”