Rural communities are often challenged by not having convenient access to items needed for farms and homes. The Country Barn meets that challenge by offering practical goods and some unexpected items that can brighten a home or garden anywhere. Housed just east of Middlebury on County Road 16, owners Laverne and Sue Graber, and Lamar and Amanda Lambright, welcome shoppers from the area and tourists who come to see what is stocked on the shelves.
The Country Barn opened about three and a half years ago, Lamar Lambright says. It was started by his mother-in-law and father-in-law, who sold birdhouses and home decor at a space in the former popcorn plant in Middlebury. His father-in-law enjoyed feeding the birds and started the store to appeal to folks who shared that same interest.
One year later, the store moved to its current location. A second building is being constructed to help free up space in the current building, which Lambright describes as crowded. The new space will make the current building feel a bit roomier for shoppers, he says.
“Bird feeders are still a hot item, as is the home decor and Christmas decor,” Lambright says.
The bird feeders offered are not the everyday kind. Many are handcrafted locally with metal, wood and glass. The locally made, powder-coated metal tree is a great way to hang and display bird feeders in yards. It is 8’ tall with multiple branches.
The owners also sell their own birdseed mix and other selections of seed for bird feeders.
There is more going on than bird feeders and decor. The Country Barn stocks animal feed in 50-pound bags for all species of animals found in the area, from dogs, rabbits and goats to horses. Miller and Sauder feeds are stocked at the store, and delivery is provided to locations in the area. These products will eventually be moved to the building addition.
In the spring, The Country Barn is going to offer bulk mulch. This is another item that can be delivered to local addresses, Lambright says.
Also popular are the locally made firepits. These are fitted with metal mesh rings for safety, with the added convenience of allowing food to be kept warm.
In addition to animal feed and eventually mulch, the fire pits can also be delivered, courtesy of Lambright’s brother-in-law.
Most of the customers who shop at the store come from the community. More and more tourists are also finding their way to the store. It is often a stop for Amish ladies who are out on shopping sprees. The variety of gift items, baby gifts, toys and other home decoration items can be a good mix to keep female customers interested, while many men gravitate toward locally made firepits or farm-related supplies.
“It’s on the way to and from town,” Lambright says. “We are in a convenient location.”
The Country Barn operates with the help of family. It is a family business, and now the ownership is shared by Lambright and his wife.
Lambright used to work in local factories and helped at the store in the afternoon. Owning a store like The Country Barn was something he said he wanted to do in the future. The opportunity came sooner than expected, and he realized he could help his in-laws by freeing up some of the demands on the Grabers.
While some items appeal to women and some appeal to men, Lambright hopes people will stop in and see for themselves what the business has to offer.