AUGUSTA, Ga. – What started over three decades ago with a simple Civil War era ginger beer bottle has blossomed into a new mobile app aimed at helping antique lovers quickly and conveniently locate antique and vintage shopping destinations between South Carolina and Texas, along the six-
state Interstate 20 route, while also offering businesses a unique marketing platform.
Developed by Augusta antique aficionados Pam Hayes and Candace Lee, along with Athens-based Pennington Group, i20Junkin (available in the iPhone app store now and soon to be released for Android) is a store directory mobile app that features more than 1,500 miles of shopping destinations at your fingertips. Using GPS technology, users can locate stores near them, browse by city and state, map their favorite finds or even create junk-hunting itineraries.
“I grew up with small antiques around the house, as my folks were antique lovers,” says co- developer Pam Hayes, whose mother rescued that ginger beer bottle from an old family barn. “My Dad took me to my first estate auction around age 14 and I immediately contracted the fever. Throughout high school and college, I ‘picked’ and hoarded just about anything old.”
By the time she was in her late ‘20s, Hayes had amassed a large enough collection to decorate several restaurants. When she lost her father in 2007 and her “Mema” in 2009, antiquing became her therapy. By her late ‘30s she’d collected enough to open her first storefront – appropriately named Mema Had One – in 2011.
Mema has been good to them.
“The support from our customers has been phenomenal,” Hayes says. “We were recently named Augusta’s Best Antique Store and we’re dedicated to providing our customers with fun and eclectic old stuff at reasonable prices.”
The store has a large following on social media, but Hayes and Lee were constantly being asked ‘what other stores are around here.’ “That simple, yet repetitive question spawned into a complete brainstorm about how to fill a void in our industry and really shorten the gap between it and modern technology. Hence our tagline: Where technology meets nostalgia,” she says.
While there are industry web sites that have been around for some time, statistics told them that web browsing lagged way behind app usage. According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of adults own a smartphone and spend an average of nearly three hours a day on them, most of that time using apps. While social media had proved successful for Mema Had One, the downside, Hayes says, is that customers have to know a store exists to search for them.
Check out a promotional video about the app…
That’s why the app is a valuable tool for stores as well, Hayes added. For a small yearly fee, stores can get a premium listing on the app, which includes hours, social media, phone and website links, a brief description and up to four photos. A pending update to the app will include driving directions.
“We also offer each store a member kit to promote the app in their stores,” according to Hayes. “They have the potential to reach thousands, hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and can target potential customers in their vicinity. These stores can become a shopping destination for the traveler who never knew they existed.”
There are nearly 500 stores on the app, with the expanded version, JunkinUSA, already in development, which Hayes says will incorporate an industry-changing feature. When pressed for details, she was tight-lipped, but insists it will totally revolutionize the search for rare treasures.