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Shawn Strain admits being bitten by the collecting bug at an early age, and about two years ago decided to open Barnwood Vintage at 166 Main St. in Elizabeth to offer items from his collection to new owners.
“I grew up with my grandparents and I went with my grandfather who liked to poke around at antique shops, garage sales and auctions where he bought items to add to his collection,” he said. “I guess that is when I decided to start a collection of my own and I am still collecting.
“The only thing that has changed is I have opened the store to offer some of my collection for sale.”
The vast and diverse array of merchandise covers the walls, fills shelves and occupies most of the floor space of Barnwood Vintage. A spinning wheel stands on the floor along with a ship’s wheel.
The walls are covered with pictures, and just inside the door a kerosene lamp stands on a shelf just a couple feet from a wall-mounted crank telephone.
“We have a lot of different items in the shop. There are some traditional antiques but the majority of what is on display is from my collection of vintage and rustic items like a World War II uniform and a turn-of-the-century saw,” Strain said. “The items in the store are less than a quarter of my collection. For example, I don’t have any room to display the rustic farm implements and I am able to display only a few of the rustic tools I have collected.”
Strain was born in Grand Junction but grew up in Littleton. He graduated from Littleton High School in 1989. He has lived in the Elizabeth area for the last 11 years.
“I had a career as a financial crimes investigator but decided it was time to pursue a new course,” he said. “I started my new career a few years ago when the opportunity to open my own shop presented itself.”
One unique aspect of Barnwood Vistage is the option to rent vintage items.
“We offer the option to rent items for events like themed parties or plays. The prop rental is sort of a side portion of the business,” he said. “I plan to promote the rental option a bit more because it would be a service to potential customers, and I think it could open our store to a new people.”
He said he sees the business growing as more potential customers find his store and his services through the internet.
“I am there in the shop most days. A great benefit of being in the shop is all the fun I have meeting the people who come in to check us out,” he said. “It is impossible to call this work when you have so much fun doing it.”
Strain said another aspect of the business is providing decoration for businesses. He said he is working on supplying the wall displays for Bernie’s Kitchen, a recently opened restaurant in Elizabeth.
“I guess I passed the collecting bug on to my son Garrett,” he said. “He runs the shop if I am not available. He loves the business. He already knows how to pick up something and selling it for a profit.”
Garrett smiled and said he likes working in the shop.
“It is fun and I learn a lot about the business by helping Dad by running the store when he can’t be here,” the Elizabeth High School student said. “Some customers are looking for specific items and others are just checking out what we have here in the store. For some reason the glass items seem to be among the most often purchased items.”
Barnwood Vintage is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
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