We are often asked how we got started with Blue Moon Vintage Market and this is one of our favorite stories to tell. When I was little, Vic would drag me around to all the different flea markets, garage sales and antique stores from Illinois to Michigan. I didn’t have an appreciation for this until I got older and went off to college. I was able to decorate my college apartments with my garage sale finds then do the same after I graduated college and purchased my first home. Rog and Vic purchased a cottage in Southwest Michigan in the mid 90’s and she decorated this with all her favorite finds as well.
I worked in the corporate world for several years first as a corporate paralegal then as an insurance claims adjuster for a Fortune 500 utility company. While I loved what I did, I was not a fan of the 9-5 grind, or in my case the 7:30-4 grind Monday through Friday. So in June of 2012, I left the corporate world and continued on with a direct sales company I was very successful with. Working for this company allowed me to have the freedom to do other things while working for myself which I was so grateful for. In the fall of 2012, my grandfather/Vic’s father, who we called Uncle Norm at his request, became very ill. We thought we were dealing with a case of pneumonia that was progressively getting worse so Uncle Norm and his senior rescue dog Kelly moved in with Rog and Vic so they could help take care of him. Sadly, Uncle Norm actually had end stage pulmonary fibrosis and he passed just before Christmas in 2012. After the holidays, we were struggling to process our massive loss. I came out to the farm and asked Vic what she needed and she replied through some serious tears “I want to take a chalk painting class.” I had NO IDEA what she was referring to but I said we could do that. I went home and started researching. I found out what she meant was she wanted to take an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshop.
At that time, there were not many distributors, or as they are called “Stockists”, in the states since this company was started in England, which is where Annie Sloan is from. I got to work and located a stockist in Peru, IN (not to be confused with South America) and made reservations to attend their workshop that Friday. I called Vic to tell her we were going and she said, again through tears, “I’m not ready.” I said “great I will pick you up at 10.” We drove the 2 hours to the workshop and had such a great time. We left that day with an arsenal of product and were inspired and ready to paint anything and everything.
We started going to auctions again and turned the lower level of the house into our painting studio. Rog was more than generous when it came to repairing all our broken and damaged finds, making them better than how we found them. Before we knew it, we were on consignment in 3 stores throughout Indiana and Illinois and we were having so much fun that the grief seemed to let up a little every day. We outgrew the lower level and Rog was kind enough to share his garage with us, even installing a heating/AC unit so we could paint year round. I don’t know that he was thrilled about sharing the garage with us but he didn’t complain…..much. In the spring of 2013, our dear friend Sherry told us about a pop up market in Three Oaks, MI that had just started and was a once a month 3 day event. She said she thought it was something we should check into so we looked up their schedule and went to the upcoming event. We were blown away with everything from the merchandise to the crowds to the atmosphere.
We immediately joined their team as vendors and helped them stage each market and work the events each month. We loved being a part of what they had created, the energy was simply amazing. We partnered later that year with one of the owners of that market to become Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockists and began teaching workshops to students, just like the workshop we had taken the year prior. The following fall, this market decided not to go forward for various reasons. We weren’t sure what we were going to do but we wanted to do something. A few weeks later, the space that adjoined this market’s space became available for rent and it had restrooms, running water and heat which meant we could host a monthly market year round.
After serious consideration and a lot of anxiety….we met with the landlord to see this space. We went home, talked it over with Rog and decided to go for it. So….we signed the lease in January of 2015 and opened Blue Moon Vintage Market in March of 2015. If I told you it was immediate smooth sailing I would be lying…..seriously lying. It was definitely a learning experience and we hit some major bumps along the way but we learned from each bump, readjusted and continued on. Sometimes when I look back at where we were when we started, I don’t know how we got to where we are now…but we never gave up, talked through every situation and grew when we needed to. Now we realize we should’ve started blogging years ago but as they say….better late than never right?
In our second year, we had the incredible fortune to have American Picker’s very own Queen of Rust, Danielle Colby, join our market as one of our vendors. This was SO exciting for us for so many reasons as you can imagine. We would drive to her storage units in Iowa and pick up her merchandise then bring it back to the market and stage it with the rest of the merchandise on the floor. In exchange, Danielle would promote us on her social media outlets so it was a win win for everyone. The idea behind the market was to be open one weekend a month so we could recreate the floor each month. We would spend the month traveling and picking, then bringing our items home to clean, paint, repair, repurpose then bring them to the market to stage. We also had several vendors that would do the same then Vic and I would stage all the merchandise together so it didn’t have an antique store vibe. We wanted it to be more of a stylized market and each month we would tear the place apart and restage it, bringing in new merchandise, so our customers would want to return each month. While this was A LOT of work, it was something we both enjoyed very much. We rented the space in Three Oaks, MI from 2015 until mid 2020.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, we were faced with a number of challenges. Hosting a monthly event with volumes of people was not safe, and in Michigan was not allowed, so we started thinking about what we needed to do to go forward. During our time at this location, we were also faced with more challenges with the building than I can count (I will spare you the details but it was something we tried very hard to control the best we could). So combining the condition of the building with the challenges of the pandemic made us really sit and take a hard look at what we needed to do. The condition of the building was not going to change and we weren’t sure what the future would look like with Covid so we started looking for other locations to open a store. With 28 animals at home in Indiana, the thought of having a full time store in Michigan did not seem like a realistic option.
We began looking around in Northwest Indiana, even looking at an old church in Westville, IN. We realized this was not the best idea either so we went home to brainstorm. Then it hit us…..we have an 80 acre farm and Rog can build ANYTHING!! He didn’t hesitate to say “let’s do it” and he got to work designing his plan (this will be a blog of its own under Rog Projects). So….fast forward to April of 2021 and we opened for business. We did not feel opening as a once a month event at our farm was a good idea for a number of reasons so with the approval of the county, we opened by appointment for the time being.
We have changed our format a bit from what our customers were used to in Michigan and we are extremely secluded with a one lane road in and out of the farm so we started off with a by appointment format and had a fantastic first year. We are so incredibly grateful to the customers that supported us throughout this insanely challenging experience but we are so proud of the building Rog built for us and what we have been able to create inside. We have SO many ideas and plans that the new space will allow us to create for you all. We are in the process of restructuring our format at the time of this writing so stay tuned for some exciting news!