willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Behind the Scenes at Life’s Patina

One of the most frequent comments that we get when a barn sale is about to end is that we must be so thankful that we don’t have anything going on until the next barn sale. We have fooled y’all! We might not have much going on that you can see but this “down” time is when we engage in all the behind the scenes activity that creates and enriches your experience here during our next big sale. We walked into the beginning of this year with an added adventure… that of our renovation and remodel of the historic Jenny Lind House in the Historic Village of Yellow Springs. That addition to our daily to do’s has certainly kept us on our toes. Read on as I share a little of what has been going on here at Life’s Patina during our off season months that sometimes, to us, seems a little crazier than the months of our barn sale season!

For starters, our little renovation of the Jenny Lind House has been an adventure. Above is the front page of a presentation that we made to go before the historical review board as well as the township to plead our case to leave the stone exposed on the sides of the building, after we had taken the damaged and moisture laden stucco off of the sides. While the front had been repaired over time and definitely gives an identity to the building, we were not touching that. The sides were another story having never been repaired. This whole process resulted in a two month delay… ouch!

Part of the process in creating the presentation to the historical review board actually involved digging into the history of the house itself. I spent hours and hours in the archives of Historic Yellow Springs and the Chester County Historical Society. Both being fascinating places, I totally enjoyed the little tidbits of information that I found there and will be incorporating many of those details into the final design and decor of the house. From photos and paintings of Jenny Lind, especially this one, depicting her on a Women’s Year Stamp from 1975, to excerpts from spa goers in the early 1800’s who were commenting that the ride on the stage coach to the village was much more pleasant now that the two competitive inn owners had resolved their differences. In fact, there was not one shot exchanged between the two stagecoach drivers!

Thankfully though, we are back on the track racing to deter any more damage to the building from its years of deferred maintenance. We will be posting our progress as we move along on our journey of both renovating an old beauty and then opening up a business in it. This is a passion project for sure and we cannot wait to share it with you and the surrounding community!

Aside from working on all of the aspects for the renovation, we made our annual buying trip to Americas Mart in Atlanta, Georgia in January where the decisions were, as always, mind boggling.

Especially when it came to selecting Christmas merchandise for the end of the year when we just finished up a wonderful yet exhausting Christmas season. Placing orders for our shipments to come in is a whole different aspect than actually receiving them, unpacking them, and pricing the merchandise.

Case in point, one of the two pallets we received from one of our vendors that had to be met at the end of the driveway for it was on a tractor trailer when our shipments are supposed to be on a smaller box or straight truck. Could they have stacked this one any higher? Julie, our Florence Nightingale of product management, has been a super hero in this arena and has worked her magic on accepting, unloading, unpacking and pricing all of our new merchandise. All of which is patiently waiting to be vignetted into the rooms of the barn. The nitty gritty of setting up begins this week!

Along with the new merchandise that we bring in so that there is something for everyone when they attend one of our barn sales, our main focus is the securing of unique finds for your home and gifting needs.

We scour the area and beyond bringing back items that I would use in my own home. Everything from the small accessory items to large architectural salvage…

and everything in between.

We receive a few inquiries a year to hold special events in the barn during the months of January, February and March and unfortunately, unless it is a small scale event that we can hold in the lower barn, for that is heated, we are unable to do so in the upper barn for lack of heat. Due to that fact, these months are used to make many of the improvements that need to be made in the barn each and every year as well as maintenance.

This winter season we attacked the old stable areas that we had opened up last year but did not have time to get the old stall area painted. We moved all of the merchandise out of that area so we could have all of the old wood that we had lightly power washed when we did the floors, painted in a crisp white.

The Before…

and the After of this area is pretty amazing with just a coat of white paint and a sanding of the beams that had errant white paint on them.

We cannot wait to reveal this newly refreshed area to you in April!

We have also walled in the exposed electrical areas in the new work room and painted the plywood with chalk board paint. The design for this room for the upcoming sale will revolve around this new element as well as product we have ordered just to complete this room.

Behind the scenes, we are also constantly working on relationships, for they are the key to our business and a very important facet of everything we do here. This year in Atlanta, we took time to meet with and discuss future endeavors with a couple of our select vendors. Some of which we have been working with for awhile…

and some that we have just met. We will be posting some very exciting news on who will be making appearances at our Spring Barn Sale and who they will be bringing with them… think adorable baby goats and chickens!!!

One of the most important aspects of what we do during our off season is selecting the non profit to work with us for our next sale. We have a long list of potentials and we choose the organization based on a few factors that change with each and every sale. For this sale, after being inspired and impressed with founder Jan Michener from AHHAH (Arts Holding Hands and Hearts) upon hearing her talk at one of the 100 Women Who Care Meetings, she was definitely on my radar screen. She has graciously agreed to come and speak at our Preview Party on April 24th and I am thrilled that AHHAH will be the benefactor of our April Sale.

I know one thing, I could no longer do all that we do in the off season, or the “on” season for that matter, by myself. I am beyond grateful and thankful for my little team of strong, dedicated and empathetic women who each play a part in bringing everything to fruition that goes on in my little head! They have my back when I need to take family time… and vice versa. We work with each other when they are able or from home, except for Julie…

whose personality lifts me up daily! Any ideas why? She happily presented her feet ensconced in the socks that I had given out at our team meeting the day prior to walking into the office the next day. She is a powerhouse combo of organization… and laughter!

OPPS! I almost forgot! One of the biggest things we have been working on, aside from the renovation, is the creation of a new website! Maggie and I have explored many web designers and what we want to see on our new site and we have narrowed it down by selecting a new web designer. We have built Pinterest boards to select the theme, colors and feel of the site and Maggie is running with the communication and the project. I am over the moon that she is back in that capacity for her aesthetic is right on point and beautifully coexists with mine! So so so exciting! On that site we will be revealing our little team and some new developments with Life’s Patina. Laugh a lot and Whine (Wine) a little is our mantra! Embracing where we are at, at this day and moment is so very important. Embrace it all! The annoyances, the joy filled moments, the day to day that we have to partake in, the exhilarating accomplishments. Day to day is certainly a mixed bag and you never know what you are going to pull out of that bag when you get up in the am. Take it from a woman who let some annoying tooth discomfort when chewing on one side of her mouth go. If that side bothers you, don’t use it, go for the other side I always said. My opinion has shifted on that when pulling out of the bag one day this week, an emergency tooth extraction when the offending tooth is finally x-rayed to reveal a fractured root and infection. Talk about an annoyance!

We are getting closer and closer to the big reveal during our Spring Sale and the barn is getting turned upside down. More and more of our daily hours are being spent in there… and then some… and we cannot wait for you to walk through the doors!

Spring Barn Sale Dates:

Friday, April 26th: 10am – 5pm

Saturday, April 27th: 9am – 5pm

Sunday, April 28th: 10am – 4pm

To learn more about our upcoming barn sale, click here as well!

Until then~

xoxo Meg and team

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  1. Christopher K. colburn says:

    Meg – clearly you are not busy enough! Omg!

    PS – it’s all worth it????

  2. Amy Dluhy says:

    You are Amazingness!!! <3

  3. Kiki Ade says:

    Good read getting us caught up makes one feel in the loop Thx Anticipation ????

  4. Marybeth Hurley says:

    God bless you in all of your efforts! Your wonderful spirit is enjoyed by many.

    “When you send your Spirit, new life is born,
    To replenish all the living of the earth.” Psalm 104:30