Blue Barn changes with the times
By Jay Braman Jr.
What a difference three and a-half-decades make.
When Faye Storms opened Blue Barn Antiques in Shandaken in 1979, Jimmy Carter was in the White House, disco was cool, and around the Catskills the deer-hunting season was by far the biggest tourism event on the calendar.
Now, instead of scores of blaze orange adorned visitors carrying rifles, Shandaken sees more bearded hipsters holding iPhones.
To Storms, it’s just another phase in the long line of changes she has adjusted to in order to make a living in the Catskills, a region where it’s notoriously hard to accomplish that.
Big changes in store
Now, in celebration of her 35th year in business, Storms is changing her store in a big way and the grand opening is set for this Saturday, July 12 at the Blue Barn’s Route 28 location in Allaben.
Known throughout the region as a superior interior decorator, Storms is poised to take a back seat at her Blue Barn and make room for an eclectic array of dealers that want a little bit of what precious, affordable space is still available to show off wares locally.
“There’s no place left in Phoenicia,” Storms said Sunday while preparing the shop for this weekend. “I’m just trying to open it up to dealers and anyone interested in getting involved with selling interesting items.”
The way it works is this. Storms has divided up the floor space inside her massive two-story barn and makes creative deals with those that wish to operate there. Some pay rent for the space. Others don’t, but have agreed to work at the barn in exchange. Still others have an arrangement somewhere in between. All bring in stuff to sell, but Storms acts as a sort of artistic director, making recommendations as to what she wants to see in the shop and not.
So far, the tenants are as diverse as the wares. Some are New York City based retailers looking for satellite space in the Catskills. Others are local artists that want to branch out into retail. Both are welcome Storms says, as it makes for a more unique shopping center.
At the end of it all, what shoppers get is a barn chock full of rarities from which to choose.
On Sunday Storms takes a break from talking to the Catskill Mountain News because a young couple that just bought a house nearby comes in. They noticed a unique old basket on the front porch that they think would make a great clothes hamper for their rustic-style dwelling.
Twenty dollars later they have it. Happy as clams.
“I’m trying to make it fun for people,” she says as the two drive off with their treasure.
Then a local resident stops by. He’s heard about the space available, and he’s carrying a vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster, probably from the 1950s, that looks like it was made yesterday. He wants to leave it there on consignment so Storms gives him the name of one of the current tenants that deals in such things. The mixer will probably be on the shelf by the grand opening.
“I’m telling my tenants to tell their friends what they are doing,” Storms said. “Who knows what they might have?”
A quick look around the barn shows there’s much more than kitchen appliances and hampers.
Like ‘Mad Men’
Danish modern furniture, similar to what is seen decorating the offices Sterling Cooper Advertising on the hit TV series “Mad Men,” takes up prominent space near the front counter.
Storms said the sleek and clean lines of such 1960s pieces attract the attention of the Hipster crowd that has brought a whole new energy to the area of late.
“That’s what’s selling nowadays so that’s what I offer,” she said.
Regardless, the array of items in the barn spans decades, even centuries. It seems as if there’s something for everyone.
Storms smiles after that is pointed out. As if to say, “you noticed that, huh? I’ve been in business for 35 years through thick and thin and I’ve managed to survive,” she said.
There’s still some space available at the barn for anyone interested. Contact Storms at 688- 2161 for details.