FIND ME at Etsy

The Etsy link was wrong in the Associated Press story.


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all of you who have searched for me! I can count the number of newspapers the story went in. It has been so fun getting to know you through your Etsy orders. WOW. This is fun.

Do what you love. Love what you do.

(to see a list of all the newspapers, visit me at

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Annie’s Barn signs

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Welcome to the Annie’s Barn blog. Like many bootstrapping small businesses, the work always comes before the blogging about the work. If you have found my little corner of the universe, WELCOME. Grab your boots or your bunny slippers and … Continue reading

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Red Bench, Black Bench, Blue Bench, Who Bench…

A couple quick updates on the benches… We’ve had five come through the Barn… A red one went to a local woman who was going to paint it black for her daughter’s wedding despite the protests of others who wanted to buy it “red.”

Actually, didn’t we vote what color I should paint it and decided on red?

Anyway, I painted it red. The OP woman won the auction. I delivered the bench.

Then Lisa bought the next bench I got … I painted it red. Remember her husband found out she bought it when he saw her “sold” on the page? So she took her bench to the lake house and told me today that some visitors “needed” her bench for their home so she sold it to them.

And the OP woman recently bought a black bench I had for sale. When she came for pickup I said “I’m curious why you are buying a black bench.”

“Oh you’ll love this. My son bought an old farmhouse and he saw the red bench and had to have it. So I decided I would let him have it and look for a black bench for my daughter and ….” that’s the rest of the story ….

She loaded up her black bench and said as she drove out to Antioch:

“Now I’m all done buying benches!!!”

And Lisa needs one….

Ha ha ha…

Lisa, we have to know. Did you tell your husband you’re looking?

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Auctions: the good, the bad, the ugly and … Paula

Annie from Annie's Barn

Annie from Annie’s Barn

As most of you know, I started this little auction site over on Facebook as a way to part with some treasures…. a garage full of them in fact. What it has turned into though is much more!

When I started back in late July, I had 30 friends . . . like real friends… who probably felt sorry for me because I had so much junk in my garage. Soon that number crept up. But what is bigger than the numbers are the friendships built through this little venture.

Now I “buy” for the Barn. I buy for you. My friends. And now and then I do pick up a FIND I can’t part with…

That’s the GOOD.

The Bad: Auctions can be fun and frustrating. How many times have you gone to an auction and left thinking “I should have gone higher on that” or “I should NOT have gone that high on that.” It happens to all of us. Just this morning I hesitated on an ebay auction and didn’t get a FIND I wanted.

I come home all the time with FINDS only to discover it was something broken or, just this Saturday, it’s a clock that doesn’t work. (Not the red teapot one, the broken one is a really classic one that I’m not putting in the auction until I fix.)

The nature of estate sale “finds” is that you line up an hour or two in advance and then race into a house with a bunch of other pickers. I have made some bad decisions.

And, sometimes you sit and wait for Annie’s Barn auctions then you don’t get what you wanted. I know that is frustrating because I was on the other side of the laptop before I started my site. BUT, the other “wait and see” type ebay auctions are also frustrating.

I am looking into a different “set price” auction software, but for now the price is right with Facebook. It’s frustrating, I know, but it also allows us to stay connected and “share” in the easiest possible way.

And I’ll need to get an email list going soon so that I can contact you with special offers. I’ve got one coming up for graduation signs so watch for that announcement.

…. Meeting Friends

This may surprise you, but I did not know Paula before Annie’s Barn got started. In fact, it was a couple weeks in when she noticed that her friend, Anne Shields who I know through Bunko, bought a sign via my site and clicked over to see what this Annie’s Barn thing was all about.

The first few times Paula bought something she sent her husband to pick it up. The next time, she sent her daughter to pick it up. And the time after that. It was funny because she was buying for like 5 weeks before I met her. Truly I thought she had some sort of anti-social disorder! Finally we did meet in person, but it would be four months before I discovered she lives like six blocks from me!

Paula and I are very different, yet we have one common attribute. We love to laugh! We see the humor in life. Some might say we are both smarta$$ but I prefer to say we are quick witted older women who have been around the block and truly appreciate the finer things in life…. like family. One thing that says alot about Paula is that she has never asked me for a special favor. I never know what she is going to buy. She never even hints at what she’s interested in.

At Christmas I discovered that Paula loves to cook. And when I found “The Yellow Recipe Box” it seemed like a natural fit to ask her to cook for all of US at Annie’s Barn.

Thanks Paula for saying yes and for listening to me rant and rave. Thanks for bringing your funny self to my auctions and to my doorstep. You Rock (for a KU superfan).


I’ve gotten to know many of you and I feel like a very fortunate Picker. Thank you for being a customer and a friend. For your advice. For your funny posts both on the site and via Private Messages. I do LOVE my job. I love it when you are excited about your sign or your red chair or your games or your french beaded bag. I love it that NONE of you care that my kitchen is always a wreck. I love it when your name pops up first or when you’re second and I can get another one for you. I hate it when you are disappointed that you weren’t first and it makes me try harder to get nice FINDS.

Do what you love, Love what you do. Thank you to my customers. And see you Thursday night!




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And into 2013!

Here we are in mid January and the sales and auctions are back in full force and seem more crowded than last year… everyone either got laid off or watched too many picker shows over the holidays!

Over the holidays I expanded my sign making business, since custom signs seem to be a big request for home decor, graduations, new babies and marching band banquets. I had hoped it would speed up the sign making process, but it didn’t. It did, however, give me the ability to be more creative in the final result and that seems to be a hit.

So, I have to charge more, but so far that doesn’t seem to be an issue. People LOVE them.

Random thought number two:

If you need an estate sale company, don’t just look in the phone book. In Kansas City, ping me via the Facebook site and I will give you recommendations. There are very bad companies in business. You might be saying “hmmm, what makes a company bad?” And I might be answering: “moldy merchandise, posting photos of items that are sold before open, or having staff that are disorganized and unfriendly.”

I can think of three very good companies in KC and (hint) they all start with women’s names . . .these companies and a few others do an excellent job of pricing and displaying items to get you $$. They know their stuff. Let me say that again, they KNOW their stuff.

For Pickers, we KNOW the companies that overprice. I don’t have time to waste at those sales unless one of my customers has specifically requested something you have in a sale. Those sales are best left for “last day” deals if anything.

Random thought 3: This is a hobby job. The pickers I line up with for sales are an interesting lot of people. Some are wealthy collectors and hobbyists, others are bored retirees, and quite a few like me specialize in an area to “resale.” Some are craigslist and ebay only. Some are annoying. Some are loud. Two seem to complain all the time. But almost all are decent people.



Because of the popularity of picker shows, I think average people have a funny idea of what it’s like. As far as I know, no one scores an item they make a grand off of. A few bucks here and there is more like it.

These guys and girls are out there looking for items that mostly please their customers — at least that’s my perspective. They enjoy the thrill of the hunt mostly and secondly get compensated when someone else who is hunting for that same item appreciates the work that went into the FIND and purchases it.

I love the homes. And the stories. And the people who work the sales. I love mostly the thrill of the hunt, and secondly meeting you and hearing your story. The items I pick up you remember from “grandma’s house” or your mom and… I love that. I am always surprised when I pick up something I adore, like the retro square purses yesterday, and you jump on that.

This is not a business to make a million dollars. You have to know what stuff is worth, be willing to take a risk when you buy it, accept that the glass item might be ruined or chipped on the drive home, and work. Work alot. You have to love what you do.

And so far, I DO!

Thanks for being a customer at Annie’s Barn!


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The 2012 Annie’s Barn Christmas Tree


The 2012 Annie’s Barn Christmas Tree… designed by Annie Stowe of Overland Park, KS

Ladder trees.

The right shape.

Easy to put away.

Low fire risk.

Inexpensive entry point.

Easy to customize.

Incorporate “shelf” type ornaments with hanging items.

Brings candles back to the tree safely.

Over a year ago I “pinned” a ladder tree to my Pinterest with the plan to try it sometime. Sound familiar? Pinned item. Try it one day?

This summer I collected a couple small ladders. Finally I dug out a black one, grabbed a box of white lights and pretty soon I was in love with the glow that it was creating in the entry. It was easy to wander around the house A set of swedish salt and pepper shakers. A creche. Some golden books.


I sold that one at Annie’s Barn. When the customer came to pick it up, we just unplugged it folded it up and off she went.

My kids, who put up the tree here, saw how easy that was and they begged me to do another for us. That’s how we got the “red” tree.


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My first ladder tree!

WOW, I have to admit this was more fun and now that it’s sitting in the entry, I want to just keep adding to it.

Black ladder already painted from savers

Black stockings, paid way to much, Savers … could get cheaper or use your own

String of 100 white lights from estate sale

Ribbon, ornaments, a few of your favorite things…

Red burlap for the “skirt”

Needs a topper, haven’t found the perfect thing yet. I think I’ll make a grapevine star! Could also hang glass balls on a piece of red or white ribbon.


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Finds… boxes and sleds

The rush associated with prepping for the holiday sales is over and now that I know there’s good stuff stocked in the barn loft for my customers, I’ve had time to go out picking at a leisurely pace.

Today I did three laps around a store before I settled on my purchases.

1. A Sears “chrome” sled with numbers on the back in good condition.

I’ve picked a dozen sleds this season. Some very old, some very new. All in the same price range and this one fell in my range. Plus, it is the longest sled I’ve picked so far. It could be a very fun “driver” for a Christmas gift, or go in a mancave… or just be decorated for Christmas. I don’t know of any guy, my son included, who doesn’t LOVE a sled. And this one has chrome.

Old wood tackle box with leather handle.

2. A wooden tacklebox primitive that I could make a margin on, but would be a keeper if not. My research on this proves I am wrong — the estimated value is very high on this piece. I’m watching an online auction site (not ebay) now to see where this ends so I know what a market price will be.

3. An apron which feels old to me, but is possibly a hand-sewn repro. It could be the fabric is vintage but the sewing is new.

Red apron with something like the “amish” pattern… old or repro, can’t tell.

Aprons and linens are not my thing, necessarily, but I recently picked both.

The most fun event of my week was meeting a guy at QT to get a sled. It is an original Hawthorne, missing the badge, but otherwise is great … no excellent… condition. The main area of the sled is a board  not slats… it has the silver chrome also and blue racing stripes. My son took one look at it and claimed it as his own. The good news is,

that frees up the sled he previously claimed which hangs in the garage and is a similiar age. The other good news is, I LOVE his choice. It can go in his room year round.

Kind of a neat story. The guy who sold us this sled was the original owner and received it at Christmas as a boy. He has had it the whole time (he said)… and given the love it’s been shown and the painstakely slow way he got it out of the truck, I kind of believe him. We are hoping at some point for a freeze and some ice. If you hit the hill outside our house just right, it’s good for a very long ride down. If not, Farmer’s Insurance hill is a hop skip and a jump away. Nobody’s going to get in front of someone driving a metal sled. Just sayin. And, push come to shove, grandpa has a new Razor four seater ATV he can pull us around the farm.

A sled would be a step up. We used to ride a car hood hooked onto the tractor by chain.. obviously this was before my Dad taught me how to “cut kitties” driving the Datsun in the snow covered pasture.



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Cosco chairs… why so much LOVE?

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It’s funny isn’t it. You walk into a room and there’s a smell or a scene or an item, yes an item, that takes you back. Cosco chairs do that. And for a very interesting reason. Not only were they they … Continue reading

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What are YOU thankful for?

Items from the very first Annie’s Barn sale back the last week of July 2012.

I am so thankful for my job. I love going out and searching for FINDS. I love the people I work with — who run the sales and are getting to know me by name. I enjoy going through the old, and unfortunately new, houses. Estate sales mean transition. Someone died. Someone lost their home. Someone is having a change in life… just moving to the next stage. I enjoy the customers who come on Thursday nights to buy and appreciate my FINDS. I appreciate all of you who helped me launch it from a hobby into a job. So thankful! So thankful!
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