Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shop Hunting...barn style!

Today I went to view this barn with a friend who is looking at the property as a whole. She asked me to come along for styling/ design advice as she has other plans for the property and knows how much I yearn for a little store of my own.
I think this barn is amazing. This is the back entrance, which is beautiful in its own right. Inside it is a barn like any other...but I can imagine the space filled already. I know, with my luck finding a shop has been near impossible - but I can dream...right!!?

Something like Tricia's would be perfect for me.
This is the outside of Tricia's beautiful barn and the image that really sent me over the edge!
For those of your that might not know what I mean...let me explain.
This is where it all started, back in early 2008. My Sister and I were looking to rent this Victorian building, she was going to run the Cafe/ restaurant and I was going to open my store in this little shop you see...it was perfect. Great street frontage, not overly big to start with and I had imagined this shop as mine for about 4 years...need less to say, it is still not ready to go and I gave up! I should have been in there a year this month!!
Then there was this one, virtually half a minute from our home and with main road frontage.
Inside was even better than the first shop, yeah it would take more to fill, but I had quite a bit of vintage furniture to fill it with. Anyway...now it is a movie hire store.
Maison Reve, a store I adore in the States is what I had visions of for the above shop. I have had this in my shop file for a while and every time I look at it, it just makes me want it even more.

Images like this shop are basically teasing me to go ahead and do it, open my little dream shop and stop worrying about how much foot traffic, global credit blunders and woes the world has.

Even if I didn't have a permanent shop, a pop-up store keeps springing to mind and images like this...
..and this call to the bargain hunter in me to go gather old wares, re purpose and give them new life and sell as an seasonal thing.

..but the idea of that permanent shop is something I can do my consulting, styling and sewing ventures in. A home away from home, filled by all things that I love and hopefully others who visited would too. Windows like this don't help!
After walking around this property today and through the gorgeous gardens that envelope the barn and home, my friend and I spent a full day working out details for her plans for the property/house...

..and my plans for this barn.
As the story goes, nothing may come of this, but it would be nice to have this little barn all dressed in white and full of candles, soft furnishings, old furniture, little topiary box plants, lots of linen and my own products - and just a few kilometers from home.
If anyone out there has gone through anything like this, I would love to hear about it...it might make me feel better.
Ness xx


  1. Good Morning! I love your post this time and the reason is that I had the dream of owning a shop starting about 14 yrs. ago. I had the dream and then sold it about 3 yrs. ago. I am grateful that I was able to sell it. I think that my imagination of what it would be like was much more than the reality. The best part was meeting the people that came into the store but the reality was that it took me away from my family. After selling the store, the itch was still there. I have satisfied it by having a bi-annual sale at an old BARN in California. Twice a year, I give this sale and make it very special for my customers. I feel that I enjoy this so much more. I am satisfied by the whole process, the hunting and gathering, the displays, the customers and I actually walk away with some money. You can see the BARN at www.remnantsofthepast.com. It looks like you could probably have the same opportunity in your area. Good luck in all your passions.


  2. This place is just gorgeous! Don't give up on your dream, maybe a few sales a year will help make your dream come true.

  3. I can see that gorgeous barn all done up and filled with beautiful things!
    I really can relate to your frustration although my waiting is not for a store, it's my dream house... every time we get all our ducks in a row, something knocks them all off again and we are back to square one and the waiting/wishing game again. I am about 2 years away now, so for both our sakes, I truly want to believe that patience is a virtue and that good things come to those who wait..
    Best of luck to you fo this new possibility!

  4. I havent been through anything like this but I want to ! I started only 6 months ago having the same dream. I currently live on the gold coast & Im not sure there is the market here for that look I am told. Everytime you post a image of your ideal shop or a description it makes me take a big sigh & I feel it. I know that sounds corney but it does inspire me to hope I could find the market for my own shop nearby someday too.
    Keep the dream alive

  5. oh Ness, I think you don't have to give up on your dream. only be patient, some day you will make it true! best wishes, darling! xo

  6. That barn IS beautiful! I have the same dream. And I have my sister-in-law (realtor) on the lookout. I would have my work studio and display space there with open houses a few times a year. Sounds perfect! Good luck with you decision. I say go for it!

  7. Ness - I know you don't know me, but I feel like I want to firmly take your little shoulders, look you squarely in the eye, and say "Ness! Listen to me. You have an artist's eye for interiors. You have more than just a desire... you have a gift!"

    Then I would hug you :)

    There are so many different ways you could come at this dream - I really appreciated the perspective from your first commenter. Her solution does seem like a very family friendly approach :)

    If you and your husband still decide to shoot for a full-time store, it seems like it would be very good to have a realistic expectation of how long it might take to get the ball rolling - renovating the barn, collecting your inventory, possibly finding vendors (?) - all of that might take 3-5 years before you really get in business. These gals that can buy a store, stock it, and open for business all within 6 months most likely had a lot of capitol to begin with. Five years can seem like such a long time, but it will be sooo worth it if it's perfect for your family.

    Best wishes, Ness! :)


  8. How absolutely divine! I have a barn and every time you post something like this, I think that there just. might. be. a chance I can do something fabulous with it. Maybe you need to visit Seattle and have a look yourself...? :)

  9. Hi Ness,
    The barn is just wonderful...
    I have owned my own brick and mortor shoppe. But I now have a shoppe in my barn. I hold monthly events, as well as being open by appointment. I just love it and it works great for me. It gives me the freedom of going out searching for treasures to fill it. I would never go back...the only thing I dream for...is a bigger barn someday. Check it out at vintagehomelifestyle.blogspot.com.
    Dreams do come true...
    Cathleen alyce

  10. Thank you so much Judy for your support. Your store is amazing. The comment about being away from my family has always been a concern for me and in a way has been good that my search has taken so long. This has given our babies time to grow up and not be left in someone elses care.
    I am off to have a really good look through your site. Thanks for you comment,
    Ness xx

  11. Flick, I hear you and share your angst. I am lucky that I have a dream house which we live in now. All I need is the store and it will be complete.
    Good luck with your search.
    Ness xx

  12. Karyn,
    I have done LOADS of market research for this store of mine and have surveyed people from all over the world as well as locals and I havent had one negative response yet. Think of how well a farmers, craft and handmade market does...
    There is always a need for something a little different. Good luck. I hope your dream comes true.
    Ness xx

  13. Dawn,
    Good luck on your search! I hope your barn is a reality soon too =0)
    Ness xx

  14. Jacci,
    You sound like alot of people I know...in a good way. You made me smile - thanks!
    I agree with you about the ones who open in a heartbeat. I am lucky though that I have a great collection of things already as well as my own creations which have been aside for this whole process as well as suppliers that I have been sourcing for the past two years so I am pretty much right to go...just the space to hold it all is the problem now. I may have a solution though!
    Thank you so much for your comment and for making me smile.
    Ness xx

  15. cathleen,
    Thank you so much for introducing me to your store/barn. What a perfect set up you have and this would work well with me family. You have really pointed me in the right direction...so thanks from the bottom of my heart.
    Ness xx

  16. Hi Ness; oh Ness oh Ness do i know what you have gone threw....yes oh boy i certainly do. Already to move into my purchased building in George St only hours away from signing the contract and the owner pulled the pin and said he had a better offer from a Melbourne buyer and he pulled the rug out from underneath me. Stock all ready signage done and oh no where else to go and then The Vintage Rose was really born. Out of shere despiration my store was really born...isnt that the way things are meant to be when you think you have nothing left you pull something out of the bag. I found the store not the best location and parking(latter that was changed for me)dont give up that is all my friend.xxxx

  17. Ness,
    I love your blog and you may remember me as I ordered some of your cushions for my own shop here in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Having owned my own homewares store because I had the same dream as you, a beautiful store that was full of lovely homewares, gifts and furniture, I have to tell you it is HARD WORK. In March this year I had to change the direction of the shop as I no longer had the time to source the furniture when my oldest went to school and sales were dropping. It took a lot of time and effort finding furniture and after a couple of years I was pretty much over it. I have blended homewares with fashion and as much as I love beautiful homewares, fashion sells 10 times faster than homewares. So much so that I will be phasing out the homewares over the next few months as it is tying up money that could be turning over much quicker. My advice to you is that no-one will ever tell you the truth about business and how hard it is, or poo-poo your idea about opening a shop, because no-one wants to hurt your feelings. I think your passion is styling interiors and events and pretty much you've got an idea of what your space will look like, but not what will happen if nobody walks in and spends any money. Will you be able to survive if only 20 people come into your store per day and only 2 people buy something?? I have for 3years now kept record of how many people walk into the shop and how many people buy and it's pretty much 1 person in 10 buys something. My heartfelt advice for you would be to continue as you are, but sell your furniture on Ebay or via a barn sale as you have mentioned. Don't get stuck in a shop. I love the sourcing of products, I like talking to customers but I HATE being in the shop everyday as I feel it actually stifles my creativity. This way, you still get the freedom to go and source your wares, but you don't have the commitment or the stress of running a shop. I have friends who run their business on Ebay and they are doing extremely well. Look up *because* on Ebay - they do really well because they style their furniture beautifully and take loads of photos for their prospective customers. Plus, you have the whole of Australia as potential customers as opposed to whoever is in your local town.
    I have two young children and no family close by to babysit if either of them are sick, so if they are it costs me wages to get someone to cover me in the shop, and everyday I feel guilty that they are in daycare when I am at work. So, follow your passion, but you can probably do it in another way other than taking on the commitment of a shop. I hate to sound like a negative nellie, but I have seen too many businesses come and go and too many heartbreaks when it didn't work out as the owner hoped it would. And one last thing, as beautiful as those little flour cushions are, they still haven't sold, so it just goes to show that you never can tell what will and what won't sell. Maybe go for 4 sales a year in your barn, it's a wonderful idea, and it's something that people will look forward too and you could probably get other people involved that will compliment your wares (like flower growers etc) I hope I have helped a little!!

  18. Know the feeling, my shop is actually opening December 5, really pushing it. We have leased the building and keep thinking, will this work, the economy, what if it doesn't? We just took the plunge. My shop looks a lot like your pics and the store front windows are great.

  19. I haven't been reading other blogs for a while, since I have been crazy busy, but it is so lovely to come over to yours and empathise so truly with your dilemma! Mum and I are searching for a barn too... the Adelaide hills is where we want to set up and it is impossible! Finally letting myself believe it is OK to leave the medical world and pursue my true passion for design is so liberating but the location drama continues. I hope you find something soon, and I believe the right thing will be effortlessly waiting for you just at the perfect moment xx

    Em x


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