The Vintage RoostQ&A with Abbey Barnes, owner
Describe the range of items your Evansville shop carries. We carry an eclectic mix of antique and vintage, repurposed and one-of-a-kind painted items. We carry a variety of everything, but really keep it at a reasonable price. I don’t sell furniture over $400 in the story. People are all about what they see on shows like “Flea Market Flip” and want to get a good deal.
We put the furniture into vignettes and accessorize the vignettes with the home decor and repurposed items. I also do refinished products as well, and offer classes and advice on how to use the items in the store. I guide people to see how they use an item—to see the multipurpose aspects of it, especially when people love something and are not sure what to do with it or how to use it.
What’s your process to re-envision items? When I find an item I always think, “What can I use this for?” One woman came in with a vanity and asked what to do with it—she didn’t want to use it as a vanity. I made it into two end tables—a custom piece—for her. We do custom pieces quite a bit. We repurpose items into something else. I make something new from scratch with the items I have on hand. Repurposing is a way to make due with what I have. Say I need a side table. I think, “What do I have that I can make into that?” That’s “going green,” too.
As a curator, what value do you look for in objects? I look for items that can be used in more than one way. The more ways, the more value it has to me. Vintage shopping and decorating have become hobbies for people who like to decorate or change up their décor often. If I buy an item and know I can use it a half-dozen ways, then it’s worth every penny.
What do people love about buying second hand? The thrill is in the hunt. Every item you find has a story. You then add to it by changing its purpose or loving it as it is.
How did you get into the business? I have a teaching background. A friend knew someone down the street who wanted to sell her store. Within three days I decided to buy her inventory, and then two weeks later I was working in my store! It was totally on a whim! I opened the store because I used to do this stuff for myself and my friends. My hobby is now my job!
Tell us about your new space due to open later this month. My new space was a total eyesore to downtown. It was built in the ’50s—not like the other 1800s buildings on Main Street. I’m remodeling it using barn wood and materials sourced from local places. It’s 3,000 square feet. Now I’ll be able to host my classes, shop and studio all under one roof.
Main Street, Evansville | facebook.com/StudioRepeats