When we were asked to write a blog for our website about “Rog Projects”, there were SO many stories we thought about sharing but we decided to share the Rog project that we are most grateful for. As you may already know, we traveled back and forth from our farm in Westville, IN to Three Oaks, MI for over 7 years, over 5 years for our market and 2 years for a market we were involved with prior to opening our own space. We loved being a part of the Harbor Country community and we made so many friends during our time in that area. I will admit, it was a lot of work to be able to get to Three Oaks as often as we needed to especially with 28 animals at the farm. During our first few years with our market, Rog would stay behind on market days to feed the animals and clean the barns so we could get to the market early enough to open on time….and he never complained. Then, when we needed extra help at the market, he rode up with me on our market events to help me get the space ready while Vic stayed behind to do the morning chores, then she would meet us up at the market. Whatever we needed to make our market work, Rog has always been our biggest supporter and the reason we were able to do what we did for so long.
In 2020, our January and February markets were amazing and it looked like we were set to have our best year yet. However, we were faced with more challenges than we made public and it was by far one of the most stressful times of our lives. When we began renting our space in the beginning of 2015, we knew it was a building that had not been cared for in a long time but we were willing to make it work. Over the years, the challenges of the condition of the building seemed to be never ending. Every time the ceiling would leak after storms, the property manager asked Rog to get up on the roof to fix the leaks. When the ejector pump to the toilet malfunctioned and shot sewage water into the market DURING an open day, Rog cleaned it up for us and repaired the plumbing issue. Then comes the mice infestation, mold issue, birds getting into the building and wreaking havoc, the unbearable heat in the summer months in a building with no A/C and no insulation (it was like being in a gigantic sweat box) and last but not least…..the raccoon infestation over several years that became so bad that even animal control was disgusted. This was escalating during the Covid pandemic and there was no resolution in the immediate future. We knew that with the pandemic, it wasn’t safe to host a monthly event with hundreds of participants and we didn’t know when it would be safe to resume our business model. To say we were under an insane amount of stress would be an understatement. In early summer of 2020, the state lifted restrictions enough for us to be open daily, first with curbside pickup (imagine driving 50 miles round trip to sell a quart of paint and have the customer not show up), then eventually we could open a little more. So, we opened every Friday and Saturday for 4 hours just to sell what we could while we decided what to do.
We didn’t want to leave SW Michigan but we didn’t feel like we could find a location that suited our business model and we didn’t want a store front where we would have to be in the space every day for several hours, especially with all the animals we care for at home and the amount of traveling we do for our merchandise. We searched everywhere and finally, I suggested putting up a building on our 80 acre horse farm and Rog, without hesitation, said “let’s do it, I can build it.” He got to work immediately, designing the entire building himself (did I mention he was an Ironworker for almost 45 years and owned his own company for several decades?). Before we knew it, Rog had laid out the measurements on the property where he wanted to put up the building and got to work. The 3 of us spent that 4th of July holiday in the hot sun measuring and cutting the wood for him to build the columns for the building, then Rog dug the holes and set the columns himself. He continued to work 13-14 hour days in the heat of summer in the big open field that would soon transform into more than we could have ever imagined. We were also fortunate enough to have my brother and a few friends come to help with the roof and exterior of the building and we hired a concrete company to pour the floor. This project was a true labor of love as Rog and my brother were hell bent on getting us out of the location we were in as fast as possible.
Then in August of 2020, Vic and I both got Covid. While I am happy to say we both recovered, it took several weeks, time we could not afford to lose, before we started to feel somewhat normal. So, while still recovering from this, we hired friends, Jim and Travis, to help us move out of our 6000 square foot space and move everything into storage. The thought of moving all this merchandise was enough to make my head spin but Rog and the guys helped us knock it out in a few days. We had merchandise in storage units, our hay barn, inside our house on both levels and anywhere else we could find to store everything until the building was ready. After the big move out, Rog got back to work in the interior of the building…which we got to help him with. Rog put me and Vic in his lift armed with tool belts and power tools with just two requests: 1. Don’t run him over and 2. Don’t drop anything on his head. We went up in the lift together to help him install the insulation for the walls then helped with the liner panels….and we are happy to report Rog was not harmed in the process.
Watching the construction of this building step by step was truly incredible to see. Every step of the process was exciting because we knew we were getting closer to bringing our market back to life. In January of 2021, we had our final inspection and got our occupancy permit. Our first step after this was to rebuild our counter that we had in Michigan…this was exactly what we needed to make the space feel like our market. Then, we hired Jim and Travis (again) to move us into our new space. Next, we displayed our favorite (not for sale) piece….our big yellow pine hand carved double sided fish that we named Sherman. He proudly hangs front and center when you walk into the market. Then came the task of recreating our market on an empty canvas. We had this brand new beautiful building and got started with staging right away. As most of you may know, for our first year in business at our farm we were open “by appointment” and we want to explain why for anyone that didn’t understand why. Where we live, it is incredibly remote and we currently have a one way road that goes to and from the property. The county granted us approval to be open “by appointment” and this is what we were comfortable with while we made the transition from our space in Michigan to our personal property in Westville, IN. Our first year operating by appointment was wonderful and it allowed us to get comfortable sharing our farm with our customers. We are incredibly grateful for all the love and support our customers showed us during this transition. Now, going into our 2nd year, the county has given us approval to be open without an appointment. So, for now we are open every Saturday from 10-4pm cst and we are also hosting events, gourmet dinners with the fabulous duo The Goddess and the Gatherer, and workshops in our space.
Words cannot describe the immense gratitude we feel towards everyone that made this possible for us. For my brother and the guys that came with him to help with the building, to Jim and Travis who moved us out of Michigan then did not hesitate to move us back into our new space, but most of all to Rog (my dad). Vic and I love what we do, we love traveling to find interesting items, we love working together, we love talking with our customers and seeing where our finds end up and we love our rescue animals on the farm. Rog has provided us with a space where we can literally walk to work, keep an eye on the animals and now share ALL our passions with our customers. To my dad, thank you for who you are, for how much you support, love and encourage us and for making this all possible. We love you SO VERY MUCH!