I hope you’ve enjoyed our stories from Part 1: The Collector and Part 2: The Dead-End Road, the first two articles in this series. These stories were about shopping adventures that my family and I had while out sourcing vintage treasures for our shop.
Join us on another vintage treasure hunting adventure in Part 3 of this series of articles…
The Collapsing Barn
Living in a rural area, there are usually a lot of farmstead sales around. We especially love these kinds of estate sales because we get to dig around in dusty barns, cellars, and outbuildings looking for cool relics from the past.
We’ve been in a lot of barns over the years, but none as interesting as the barn that looked like it would fall in on itself in nothing more than a gentle wind. I guess there’s a bit of a thrill seeker in me, and my boys definitely seem to be like that, too.
After carefully stepping inside this particular barn, it was like being teleported into a different world! The pleasant aroma of long dried hay was a welcoming smell (especially compared to some barns we’ve been in). The light entered the barn through the cracks and crevasses in the walls and ceiling, while other parts of the barn remained in darkness (and naturally we’d forgotten our flashlights). In parts of the barn, we had to work our way through piles and piles and piles of long-forgotten pieces of furniture, bicycles, car parts, and tractor parts.
There were many rooms and stalls inside the barn, and for the most part, they were all packed with various items from the past. We found quite a few interesting things in those rooms, such as two old metal stools that had been used for milking cows (both have since sold in our shop). We also found an old wooden cabinet that at one time was probably hung on the wall of the barn (that cabinet got shipped to a customer in Norway). We found a couple dozen glass light domes that were used to cover the light bulbs hanging over a workbench (most of them have since sold in our shop). These are just a few of the things we found.
There were two upper levels to the barn, the first level up a short ladder, with the haymow above that. We made our way up the rickety ladder to explore. More forgotten treasures lay waiting there, such as an old doll crib that still had three baby dolls in it – all covered in a thick layer of dust and debris, and an old high-chair that was probably used by the children who had lived on the farm. My youngest son spotted a tin can among the piles and asked me to retrieve it for him. It was an old cookie tin that I really wasn’t interested in, but he insisted I get that tin. When I picked it up, it was quite heavy. My son was so excited to see what might be inside! The tin was filled to the brim with old buttons! Buttons of every shape, size, and color imaginable. It was one of our first discoveries of vintage buttons so we definitely had to buy that tin. We found old tools and toolboxes, a couple of old suitcases, and a large old metal basket – all treasures we purchased for our shop. We sure had fun finding things in that barn!
Since I had my kids with me and obviously wanted to keep them safe, we did not venture up to the haymow. If I had been alone, I would have tested the ladder and the floor, but with my kids, it didn’t look safe enough to go up there. I did peek in as best I could and it appeared to be mostly empty except for a few old dried hay bales. I’ll never know what other treasures might have been tucked away up there, but at least we were safe.
It was hard to leave that barn. My kids thought it was an amazing place to explore… and I agree. But I also love standing in those old barns, thinking back to a time when they housed all sorts of farm animals – imagining the sounds, smells and activities that took place decades and decades ago in that now faltering old barn.
The Lesson? Take a moment to stop and soak in the history of your surroundings as you shop for vintage treasures. It’s easy to miss those special moments when you’re focused on treasure hunting. Always look inside every tin, every box, every bucket too – because you never know what you will find! Oh… and bring a flashlight when exploring old barns.
I hope you’ve had fun joining us on our adventures! Check back for more adventures in this series.
Do you have a favorite vintage shopping adventure story? We’d love to hear it! Share the details in a comment below.