My name is Alyson, and I am a junker. I can't help myself. Farmers are notorious for hording all kinds of excellent junk. To build or repair things here on our fourth-generation farm, we continue to pull out salvage my Poppy dragged home more than fifty years ago. My dad is a genius of invention and can create basically anything out of what others might see as simply junk. My brother Beau is always dragging home free stuff much to the chagrin of his sweet wife, Amy. My sister Sarah, too, is truly gifted in the art of junking; she finds me the best antiques and cast offs. It's in our blood. In fact, odd as it may sound I cherish many fond memories of shopping the dumpsters with my Pop who would toss me up in the smelly green containers to pull out chunks of chain, a repairable shovel, a rusted bicycle. So many treasures. I've come to believe resourcefulness is a cornerstone of rural living and while not really a genetic trait, is most certainly modeled and taught. Without a doubt, farmers invented DIY and upcycling.
I have often found myself seeing potential in a piece of furniture, architectural salvage or farm find which others might miss. My mom certainly relied on thrifted finds to decorate our tiny farmhouse. She dragged me to garage sales and antiques shops when I was a kid fostering in me a fondness for a good deal, pretty tattered quilts and the value of patina. Her tastes are more delicate, dainty even, compared to mine. My mom loves roses, doilies, and depression glass; she could be shopping buddies with Rachel Ashwell. She loves Americana and French everything. In truth, I have a stellar doillie collection myself and often lean towards French country in my style preferences out of nostalgia for my childhood home. Mom taught me to hunt for quality, used items at thrift stores and garage sales. She can pull stains out of linens and her iron is a magic wand for freshening up a tired garment.
My home is filled with treasures I've drug home from vintage markets, thrift stores and Craigslist posts. That and a pile of things I couldn't resist from my favorite, local antiques store - the Shops at Station 8. For years, I'd swing into the Shops at Station 8 on my way home from work - a reprieve from teenage students and the waiting toddlers - for a quick moment of creative inspiration. The shop never disappointed. It's visual displays were charming and the people a delight. When a year after leaving behind my teaching career, the owner offered me a space, I realized a dream I'd been holding in my heart for a long time - adding shopkeeper to my resume. I so enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the art of designing a space, the satisfaction of customers returning. Much has been learned in the past four years of retail experience, and I've had the best coaches and cheerleaders in shop owners Colette Gross and Rachel Hopkins. I've learned a lot about merchandising and editing my space to tell a story.
Isn't this what life is all about? Taking risks. Stepping out of our comfortable spaces and through doors as they open; only don't be surprised if sometimes the door you find looks more like an old dumpster than the stylish entry of your favorite shop. One may eventually lead to the other.