Come Visit the Avonlea Barn!
I think it’s a good time for a story and some reminiscing, don’t you think? And a wee bit of whimsy imagination with some island scenery to brighten your day.
[The photo above was taken on the Confederation Trail across the street from where we used to live on Prince Edward Island, Canada.]
Though my website gallery displays a few photos of my art and wares when I had a summer shop in Avonlea Village, I thought you'd enjoy knowing the particulars.
It’s almost five years since I purveyed my products that summer in the Avonlea Barn. How I miss that barn! Truly…I LOVE BARNS and would LOVE to reside in such a structure. The rustic ambiance of the warm wood walls and uneven plank floors combined with my Victorian/romantic style décor would be a perfect match.
When my husband and I were living on Prince Edward Island (from 2009 to 2018), I had the delightful opportunity during the summer of 2015 – along with several other island artisans – to “set up shop” in the Avonlea Barn in the fictitious Avonlea Village in Cavendish.
Cavendish was the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery and the community where she based her “Anne of Green Gables” series of books. Avonlea Village is a private tourist attraction, and was built in 1999. Some of the buildings were new, and some, restored heritage buildings, were moved to the site to recreate a 19th-century community for visitors to enjoy.
That particular year the Avonlea Village in Cavendish went under a change in how they operated. Instead of having programs and events that included horse and buggy rides, more shops were added, the horses found new homes (alas!), and the barn cleaned up for local island artisans to purvey their goods and crafts in the former horses’ residence.
My Etsy Shop in Canada was called “Tintenfleck Studio.” At that time I concentrated on creating art (name sketches/house portraits) and jewelry – my original “letter” pendants, horse and flower pendants, and Celtic Knot jewelry. After that season of selling in Avonlea, I decided to add fabric bags and purses to my Etsy shop as you see here.
Since I didn’t have an assistant available to help mind my shop, I only set up shop two days each week. The village was open every day, including Sundays.
Keeping Shop in the Barn
A very bare booth I had compared to others, but as the summer went on, as we artisans struggled to stay warm and needed sweaters and portable heaters (being the end of June), and as the temperature climbed to warrant the need of fans, I made changes and filled the walls and tables, rearranged things, and found a lovely floor candelabra from the thrift store to hang jewelry on, complete with twinkle lights.
It was quite a chore to set up shop for only two days each week. Loading and unloading my van in the morning and packing up at the end of the day. At first I set up shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not practical. I couldn’t leave my wares unattended and the days I weren’t in residence, another shop was set up in my spot. About midway through the summer, I was able to change the days to Thursday and Friday so that I could leave my shop in place for two days in a row.
My booth was next to the barn bathroom – which was very convenient for me – but didn’t cause any issues if other shopkeepers needed to use it. The barn bathroom had a shower stall and I got permission to store my floor candelabra there when I took everything else home with me during the days I wasn’t there selling.
I whiled away the “no-customer-times” walking the rough-hewn floors visiting the other shops, checking out their craft, chatting and comparing sales with the other shopkeepers. We analyzed the tourists coming through. One of the artisans jokingly said the barn should be called a “museum” as people wandered around, looked, then walked right out!
My shop was in the middle of the barn on the back wall directly across the big doors. The open stalls were to my right with a larger open stall area on the other end. Two large doors were at either end of the barn which when opened, caused a lovely breeze to filter through on the days when the wind wasn’t quite so strong, and strong it was most of the time.
As you scroll down through the images, you can see the changes I made in how my shop was set up at first and the additional items I added later. At the end of this post, I’ll provide a link to photos of Avonlea Village as I was slack when it came to taking pictures of the rest of the village, unfortunately! The barn is adorned in weathered grey shingles with green trim with signs on the front and side - Artisan Market.
The door you see to the right of the window is a closet. The bathroom door - which you can't see - is to the right of the closet. I suppose that detail isn't a necessary piece of knowledge, is it now?
Whimsical Imaginings of a Barn Home
In between customers, my fingers busied themselves creating more Celtic Knot jewelry. My mind was also in dreamland imagining myself living in that grey-weathered-shingle-of-a-tall- wooden structure, with trim painted green. I pictured a grand living room in the high ceiling center area near my booth. Installing a fireplace and cozy sitting area for book reading and tea time would be a necessary addition. A faux fur afghan draped over a comfy wing chair upholstered in a rich red tapestry fabric with matching footstool next to book-laden shelves would complete a serene scene beside a flickering fire.
I planned out the master bedroom suite upstairs complete with a curtained canopy bed and how I would partition off the floor space above the horse stalls into guest rooms and of course, a special sewing space overlooking the grand living room. Vibrant hued vintage quilts would hang on the railings over the open areas. My mind imagined a kitchen/dining area in the larger non-partitioned part of the barn where three other Etsy artisans worked together to sell their crochet, jewelry and sign art.
The photos below are of the other artisan shops. Notice how beautiful the barn is!
This was my view from where I sat in my shop.
I can’t tell you I had great success in sales. But I can say the experience was enjoyable - my memories of the summer of 2015 and my imaginings of a warm and cozy home where horses once ate and slept. I often think of that lovely barn and so, so wish I could have found a similar one to renovate and reside in down here in the south. But alas, not all our dreams come to fruition, do they?
As you perused the pictures and spied something that piqued your interest that isn't listed in my Etsy shop, don't hesitate to inquire about it. If you are an island fan, I also have a number of PEI name sketch prints available (Brackley Beach, Cavendish & Charlottetown) that are not listed in my shop yet. They were displayed on the barn walls in the photos above.
The "Turtle Dove," "Mom" and "Dad" illustrations are available in my shop here.
Have a great weekend! Stay safe - stay healthy - and enjoy the link HERE for more photos of Avonlea Village!
[The photo here is the north shore in the Cavendish area of the Prince Edward Island National Park.]