Vintage shops are far from rare in downtown Turlock and come April one more will be joining the scene: Farm House.
The three women opening the store are hoping to bring a new spin to the pronounced market in town by offering items with a trendy industrial-farm twist. Local artisanal food items will be on sale at the shop where repurposed furniture, home décor, children’s items and gifts will also available for purchase. However, this isn’t the first rodeo for the agriculture-minded trio.
Caley Rutherford, Kim Jonson and Candace Gonsalves each have their own storied history in the town’s vintage scene, something that some may call the “unofficial motto” of downtown Turlock.
Rutherford and Jonson, who met through their hobby of frequenting garage sales, were both opening partners of downtown store Vintage Market. Gonsalves and her husband, who has a background in welding, started their company that features custom metal work. Their brand, Rustic Metal Design, has since been sold in Vintage Market as well as Digs, another shop that has multiple vendors selling their wares under one roof.
“People come to us with these ideas and we’re able to produce designs that we never could have imagined on our own,” said Gonsalves. “It’s collaborative.”
Collaboration is also a theme at Farm House where the three owners will be able to shoulder the less than glamorous side of owning a business together through the co-operative business model. Like many other antique and vintage shops downtown, there will be a handful of vendors within Farm House.
So, with a number of established antique shops and vintage stores in Turlock, why branch off on their own now? According to the Farm House ladies, there is a market for it.
Witnessing a steady interest on behalf of the community to purchase “upcycled” items with character, the trio felt comfortable adding one more store to the list of downtown offerings.
“Every year it got bigger and better, which is great both individually and collectively,” said Rutherford of her time selling items in Vintage Market.
President of the Downtown Property Owners Association John Jaureguy noted that the proliferation of these niche shops may tie back to the idea that “people tend to mimic things that are successful.”
“I believe in supply and demand, that’s how the market and the economy work. Most businesses are successful, I think, because the owners sense a need and in turn create a store that has offering for people that want that,” said Jaureguy.
Debra Volk and Diane Parker co-own Digs and have a theory that the number of vintage shops in town could be indicative of customers’ “love of the hunt”– the idea that when they enter the shop they know the items for sale are ever- changing.
“It’s like we do the big hunt for the customer,” said Parker.
This “hunt,” is the same reason that many of the shop owners got into the business.
“I’ve never been able to stop,” laughed Jonson of her interest in repurposing items.
Plus, it’s not only fun, it’s gratifying said Rutherford.
“I think it’s the whole idea of finding a purpose for something people may not initially find useful,” she said.
Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt credits the collective success of the similar shops, despite their close proximity geographically, to the downtown environment.
“Downtown Turlock offers a different ambiance and shopping experience than other retail areas of the city. It is developing with a unique vibe and other vintage shops are building upon that synergy,” said Pitt. “In addition, the rents downtown are less expensive than other commercial areas so that a business can get started with less upfront capital costs.”
Parker also noted that there is harmony between the vintage shops and the vintage storefronts unique to downtown Turlock which could contribute to customers’ interest in wandering from shop to shop.
“It seems that people that come downtown are looking for that walking environment,” remarked Parker.
Noting that customers hail from Los Banos to the Bay Area, the Farm House partners said that it is not unusual for customers to come specifically to Turlock’s shops for its array of items unique to the region.
“Turlock has become a destination,” said Jonson.
And the downtown stores are eager to cater to their visitors. This in turn has led many store owners and vendors to find creative ways to repurpose and display their unique items and the ladies of Farm House are no exception.
“There’s not one great store downtown, there are several great stores,” said Rutherford. “It makes you want to be better. It makes you work harder to be special and unique.”