There is a long line of creative makers and artisans that have lived at Willowbrook Farm, particularly over the last 80 years or so. From Mr. Orr who made countless instruments during his tenure of the home, to Shorty Yeaworth who was a film maker and owned both Historic Yellow Springs Village, where he ran his Good News Productions company and then Willowbrook Farm, to Mary Nixon who is an accomplished artist in her own right and held art classes where we hold our Barn Sales now.
Make no mistake. I’m not an artist, but I am a deeply creative soul. I’ve never made my living by creating art but my wheels turn continuously on what I could make, create or design out of what I have. When I was a little girl, I decorated my bedroom, painted its walls pale blue, collected trinkets and decorations for each season and holiday, and was happily my dad’s wallpaper assistant as he put it up in our home. As my husband and I started our family and grew it year over year, I rehabed old cast-off pieces of furniture for our home, scoured antique markets, TJ Maxx and any other unique place I could find to deck the halls of our homes. I would often stay up late into the night crafting at my kitchen table or ensconced in the basement of my neighbor and co-hort in creative crime since then, Julie, documenting the early years of our wee ones in scrapbook form.
When we were looking to move and did our first tour of Willowbrook Farm, the barn set my heart on fire with its possibilities. All of that space, all of that beauty, all of that history. My mind was spinning with thoughts of rolling all of those characteristics into one in a way that fueled the fire in my soul. That fire pulled me to start something that would continue to strengthen and support this historic building for many generations to come.
From there, our first Barn Sale was born. I brought in tradesmen to restore the crumbling barn from top to bottom. I gathered up antiques and vintage finds from some of my favorite picking places and sanded, painted, hammered and stained, again until the wee hours of the night, to then wake up early and get my kids off to school. I created a website with my friend Chris Stoner who gave me the impetus and assistance to “make my dream happen.” I scoured design magazines and women’s creative networks for inspiration. I read about the Home and Gift Show in NYC and Atlanta. I dug deep to learn anything I could to help launch my business. And launch it we did!
That was 11 years ago. Since then, we have welcomed thousands and thousands of visitors to our farm and barn. Many of you have been on this journey with us from the beginning, cheering us on and showing up as we kept our fingers crossed that people would come. As we have grown, many new faces have joined our journey as well! Since the concept and format of our business is unique and we operate differently than a traditional retail store, we get a lot of questions about what we do and what the difference is between our events, offerings and openings, as well as why we aren’t open all the time. We’ve penned this blog post to help explain it all!
Our Barn Sales are held 3-4 times a year, inspired by the seasons and designed around the time of year in which they are held, which is typically Spring in April, Fall in September, Holiday in November and then Christmas in early December. A Barn Sale is a combination of old and new merchandise that we have searched high and low for. My true love is vintage but I feel that if you add new merchandise, our sales are more eclectic and serve a greater number of people, providing items at many price points. Some of our shoppers buy only vintage items from us, some buy only new and others buy a combination of both! Personally, I decorate and design with both vintage and new items, so I only sell what I would use in my own decor. My intention is to mix old and new in artistically creative ways.
Our vintage wares are highly curated, cleaned, repurposed if needed and made ready to use in your own home, versus the sorry state we often find these cast-off items in. Sometimes people see the term “Barn Sale” and assume we are selling discounted items, like a yard sale. We are not a discount shopping destination but we price all of our items well and take a lot of time to research the value of our items and then try to price lower than the market place. The exceptions are our one-of-a-kind, highly unusual items we find in our travels, for our expense to get them home is significant. We also carry architectural salvage such as doors, windows, columns of all sizes and the like that can be used for your own projects. They are very well priced as well.
Our Barn Sales are big production events in that it takes us about 3-4 months to put one together. This is why we are not open all the time and do not have regular hours. It takes us so long to search for, purchase, receive, pick-up, unpack, clean, repurpose, tune up and price new merchandise that if you were to walk into the barn during that months-long time period, you’d be shocked by what you see! Each and every nook and cranny of the barn is piled high with treasures waiting for their appearance in their designated spaces. We want each sale to look and feel different, which takes a copious amount of time! Additionally, unlike many other antique shops, we purchase each and every item rather than bringing in vendors to sell their own wares. Everything you see for sale in our barn has been sourced by us, with the exception of a handful of local vendors we invite to complement what we do, add to your experience at our farm and create a fun, festival-like feel for you. These hand-picked vendors include flower farmers, coffee purveyors, artisanal food and beverage makers and artists of various mediums, from jewelry to paintings to apothecary creations.
Finally, we choose a different non profit partner for each sale to donate a portion of total Barn Sale earnings to, as giving back is a core component of our business. More on that if you keep reading below!
In a nut shell, a Barn Sale:
- Is an opportunity for you to shop in our historic two story bank barn while it’s fully bedecked with highly curated and beautifully displayed vintage and new merchandise, as well as architectural salvage
- Is held 3-4 times a year for just one weekend, and themed around the season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Holiday)
- Has a festival-like feel, as hand-picked local vendors set up tents outside the barn to sell their artisanal food and beverages, apothecary creations and more
- Takes 3-4 months to put together
- Does not require a ticket or reservation
- Supports our chosen non profit charity partner
Our Preview Parties are held 2 days before we open up the barn to the public for our Barn Sale. They are ticketed events that provide guests with early access to shop our Barn Sales FIRST with a smaller group while they enjoy seasonal bites and beverages, live music and a festive party-like atmosphere, all while supporting a local charity. We don’t sell anything online or in person BEFORE the Preview Party, even though we post photos of our barn and vignettes within before the Preview Party. This ensures our Preview Party guests truly do get the first opportunity to take home a piece they love.
The concept of a Preview Party was born out of two core components that I founded Life’s Patina on – giving back and creating memorable experiences.
Having lived in the area since my early teenage years, I had learned of so many small businesses, grass roots, non profits and charitable organizations who needed support. From day one of opening our doors, we have chosen a non profit partner to highlight and donate portions of our Preview Party and Barn Sale earnings. For each Preview Party ticket sold, our non profit partner receives a donation from us, and the rest of the ticket price covers catering costs for the bites and beverages. Then, during each Barn Sale a portion of our total earnings goes to the organization as well. We are so proud to have given over $150,000 to charitable organizations over the last 11 years!! We have both fundraised and “friendraised” for important organizations who do impactful work, most of them local, giving them added visibility within our community.
The Preview Party is also an opportunity to create a truly memorable experience for our guests. I have always loved planning events big and small, from decorating my kitchen and making themed foods for my children on random holidays when they were young to putting together creative family reunions, birthday parties and the like. I love taking any opportunity to celebrate and crafting a joyful, intentional, memorable experience for my guests (or children haha) with delicious food and drinks, music, ambiance and more. When was the last time you remember shopping with a seasonal cocktail in hand, a plate of goodies in the other and friends surrounding you while you listen to live music and browse our curated collections of merchandise, all housed in a historic stone barn? Heck, even if you don’t find anything you’d like to purchase, you’d be hard pressed not to leave our barn with a happy belly as well as joy and inspiration!
Typically, many vintage shopping markets have Preview Hours and Days. There is a fee just to enter many of these other vintage shopping markets! We wanted to go above and beyond that and hope we have in your eyes.
In a nut shell, a Preview Party:
- Happens 2 days before our Barn Sales
- Is a ticketed event
- Provides you with access to shop our barn sales FIRST with a smaller group before we open to the general public
- Includes seasonal beverages and bites, live music and the ambiance of our bedecked historic barn and farm
- Supports our chosen non profit charity partner
POP UP BARN SALE DAYS
Our Pop Up Barn Sale Days are days that we are open outside of our Preview Parties and Barn Sales. They are like a Barn Sale in that all of our merchandise has been artfully vignetted in a visually appealing and creative way. They differ in that they are quieter with less people in attendance and typically, our invited vendors are not there. This creates less of a festival-like environment than you experience during our Barn Sales. Pop Up Barn Sale Days are sometimes accompanied by sales on select merchandise. Sometimes they are held alongside a class or workshop we are hosting at the barn.
We are making a concerted effort to share Pop Up Barn Sale Days with you ahead of time and open up for more weekend and evening hours, as we know you all want those! Stay tuned, as we will be announcing our Pop Up Barn Sale dates in the coming weeks.
In a nut shell, a Pop Up Barn Sale Day:
- Is any day we are open outside of our Preview Parties and Barn Sales
- Is quieter than a Barn Sale
- Does not include invited vendors that our Barn Sales do
- Sometimes includes discounts on select items or happens in tandem with a workshop or class
We hope we have helped answer some of your questions! If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out on Instagram or Facebook or send us as email! Below, you can find our 2023 Spring opening dates for easy reference! Thank you to the countless faces that we have seen in the barn during one of the above events. We hope to see even more new faces in the barn this year!
Spring 2023 Preview Party
Wednesday, April 19th (Brunch from 11:30 am – 2 pm; Cocktail Party from 6 – 8:30 pm)
Spring 2023 Barn Sale
Friday, April 21st (10 am – 7:30 pm)
Saturday, April 22nd (10 am – 5 pm)
Sunday, April 23rd (10 am – 4 pm)