Hope Junction Antiques in Hope, New Jersey is owned by Lisa and Charles Iulo, who never guessed they would become an antiquing staple in the area when they established it eighteen years ago.
Originally from Cranbury Lakes by way of New York City, the Iulos were taking a Sunday drive when they spotted the building that would become the store. They had already fallen in love with the town, so they decided to take a chance and make an investment in the property.
Now the store is an airy, open, and happy space that Iulo stocks with her own finds as well as hosting some tried and true vendors that have been with her for years.
“We had no idea what we were going to turn it into,” Iulo said. The couple had always loved
antiquing and refinishing furniture together, and Charles Iulo was working as a successful
woodworker, so opening an antique store seemed like the right choice.
The building used to be Hartung’s Luncheonette (owned by Skip and Lee Ann Hartung for 29 years) and was also used as the opening scene for the ‘Friday the 13th” movie in 1980.
“Friday the 13th is a big day here,” Lisa Iulo said. “We try and make sure the fans have a good time.”
She recounted sitting at the counter (made by Charles) for hours when they first opened,
wondering when business was going to pick up. “It took a long time, but now we have regular customers, and people know us and what we have to offer,” she said.
The Iulos keep a guestbook out where visitors can leave their contact information and a list of things they are looking for.
And looking for things is one of her talents. “I love the hunt,” she admits. “I like digging and finding odd things.”
And the evidence is apparent in the store. Sitting on top of an antique railway station master’s desk, refurbished by Charles Iulo, sits a carousel of vintage postcards from the 1940’s that look brand new.
“I found these in the attic of an old shop. No one had been up there in years,” said Lisa Iulo. She had to wear a mask, hat and gloves to get through the cobwebs. “It’s a challenge but I love doing it.”
The Iulos also have a woodworking shop in Knowlton where they refurbish furniture and hold frequent barn sales. They are always keeping an eye out for old wood, like barn doors, to repurpose into beautiful and useful pieces for the home.
When asked how she finds such an eclectic mix of items, Iulo said she used to go to auctions and estate sales, but in recent years people have been coming to her.
“If they’re moving, downsizing, they want a cleanout or if someone’s passed away and they just can’t go through all of their loved one’s things, they’ll call me,” she said.
Iulo downplays the artwork she does herself, some of which can be found in the store, choosing to promote the work of others.
“My favorites are folk art and outsider art,” she said. “The pandemic was tough, I was posting items online and having folks do porch pickups, and I knew artists were having a hard time too, so whenever I could I’d try and get an art show going for them.”
The second floor of Hope Junction as well as 326 High Street that the Iulos own across the
street, have held art shows over the years for local artists, including John Hovell, Shelley
Bartlett, Linda Fuela, Joe Phalon, and Pennsylvania artist Jain Kang Qui.
In the basement of 326 is Lisa Iulo’s art studio, where she creates her own work.
While talking about her joy in art and the people who make it, a steady stream of regulars
came in and out of the store. She greeted each one with warmth, asking about family members, catching up on their travels and directing them to the latest find she picked up with them in mind. It was quickly apparent that a big draw for people to stop by is to see her.
“She is the personality of the store,” said Christine Reidmiller who occasionally mans the counter
and whose handmade jewelry is on display.
Iulo relies on a handful of tried-and-true vendors that have been with her for years, and the variety of objects is vast.
On the second floor there was a Perfection Vintage stove from the mid-1900s, as well as a mix of mid-century modern ceramics and glass as well as clothing and collectibles. On the first floor there were plenty of reclaimed wood furnishings, vintage jewelry as
well as tools, antiques, vintage artwork, signs, and up-cycled goods.
Iulo is quick to exalt the town of Hope’s beauty. Hope, one of the earliest planned communities in the country, was established by German Moravians in 1769 and the old world charm shines through in many of the activities the town hosts throughout the year.
Some events that Lisa Iulo is looking forward to are:
The 46th Anniversary of the Hope Christmas Craft Market on December 2nd from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and December 3rd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
And Hope’s Annual Moravian Christmas Lantern Walking Tour which will take place on December 9th from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Information on these events and more can be found at https://www.hopenjhistory.com/
Hope Junction Antiques is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You can contact them at 201-316-3328 or firstname.lastname@example.org and you can
follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HopeJunctionAntiques
Cybele Tamulonis, Contributing Writer
Cybele is a writer and editor with more than 16 years in the publishing industry. An avid reader, you can usually find her with the latest new book release from the local library. She currently resides on a farm in Hardwick with her husband and four children. In her spare time, she writes historical fiction specific to New Jersey.