Homes: Going to a Good Home
Withmore than 35 individual sellers, Bassingbourn’s Homemade @ The Barn offers an eclectic mix of retro, vintage, upcycled and homemade items, a veritable treasure trove of unique homewares and furniture. Owner Sally Stone shares her passion for the bespoke and the beautiful
Homemade @ The Barn is a fantastic concept! Tell us a bit more about your vision and what inspired you to set up a business like this.
Two years ago I fell ill and was off work and then couldn’t return to my former job. I had already started upcycling furniture in my spare time and taking it to craft fairs. I began selling some of my pieces in local shops, including The Barn, where Homemade is now. The owner of the Barn told me that she was moving and I asked her who was taking over. I asked her if I could! She agreed, and five weeks later I moved in. I’d always wanted a shop so I was in the right place at the right time and the thought of what I could achieve was so exciting! I opened the doors to Homemade @ The Barn on June 23 2018 and I haven’t looked back.
You have more than 35 traders in the Barn – what sort of things do they sell?
Gosh, where to start! Homemade items include children’s knitted jumpers and cardigans, booties, blankets, scarves, neck warmers, cards for every occasion, upcycled furniture, painted items using different painting techniques. I have an inhouse florist who does flowers for every occasion (weddings are her speciality). There are home-poured soy candles in various scents, and homemade wooden clocks, lamps, bamboo speakers, candle and pencil holders, all made from reclaimed wood and walking sticks. There are chopping boards and coat hooks with your name, company name or even pet’s image burned into the wood. We sell reel tables and mirrors, full, half or quarter size; homemade cushions, eiderdowns, quilts, bags, make-up bags, face flannels, and soap. There’s an upholsterer who you can buy from direct or she can upholster your own items. Last, but by no means least, we sell homemade jewellery and fused glass pieces, including bowls, coasters, earrings, hair clips, framed pictures, ornaments. Then we have the non-homemade items such as vintage and retro jewellery, vintage tea sets and tools, and. . . well, the list is endless. You should come and see for yourselves!
How do you choose who can sell their wares in the Barn?
As well as taking on the traders who were already selling in the barn before I took over, I approached people whose work I knew and who I got on with. It’s important to me that we all get along well together: we feel like a large, quirky family! As Homemade became more well-known, people started to approach me and now I have a waiting list. The one thing I’m very strict about is that the same products should not be sold by more than one person.
Your website mentions the upcycling crafts people you have working with you - is sustainability important to your vision?
Sustainability is very important to me. I love everything 1940s but we increasingly live in a throwaway society and I believe we need to return to a ‘make do and mend’ mentality. I rarely throw anything away, just in case it can be useful again. Most broken furniture can be fixed and if it can’t, why not change its purpose? Why not turn a stool into a plant pot, or a kitchen worktop into a breadboard?
Tell us about the building. . .
The Barn is a Grade II listed building that was a grain store in the 1700s. In 1940 the thatch was replaced by a sheet metal roof and it became the ammunitions store for Bassingbourn Barracks during the war. The thatch was replaced in 1986 and it became a shop. I have sometimes wondered about moving premises to develop the business but the thought hasn’t lasted long. The Barn is Homemade now, not just a building. The beams, the size, the massive, double storey front doors – they all add up to the perfect home for Homemade. Besides, I couldn’t leave the ghosts that live here!
What can shoppers expect the first time they visit?
I like to greet everyone who comes in with a cheery smile, a warm hello and occasionally a paint brush. Customers are free to wander around and browse unhindered but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, talk to me. I want to help my customers find their perfect thing. I love to chat and have made some wonderful friends among my customers – I'm really happy when people return again and again.
With so many traders to choose from, where should shoppers start?
The best piece of advice I can give you would be start at the beginning, wander around slowly, and then wander around all over again. If you have the time, take your time, there is so much to see. If you don’t have time and you’re looking for something specific, ask – I can show you where to look, and if I don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, I can usually source it.
What sets Homemade @ The Barn apart? Why should people come to you?
Homemade @ The Barn is completely unique. Our vintage and retro pieces are one-offs and homemade items can be made just for you. So there is, or can be, literally something for everyone. Also, we’re a friendly bunch so a visit to Homemade is a lot of fun! And nothing makes me happier than knowing that I’ve made a sale for one of my traders and that the thing they’ve lovingly made, rescued or upcycled is going to a good home.
Homemade @ The Barn is on Old North Road, Bassingbourn SG8 5JL. It is open Tues-Sat 10am-4pm. See homemadeatthebarn.co.uk or call 07730 496225 to find out more.
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More by this authorAlice Ryan