Red Barn offers a crazy-quilt of furniture and collectables

Date Published: 
August 5, 2016

Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Tom Wilhoit, Robyn Wilhoit and Eric Moyer keep the Red Barn resale shop stocked with goodies.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Tom Wilhoit, Robyn Wilhoit and Eric Moyer keep the Red Barn resale shop stocked with goodies.Whether someone is looking for a special piece of furniture, a unique something to fill that corner in their beach house or just want to feel like they’re in Grandma’s attic for a little while, the Red Barn in Dagsboro could be just the ticket.

Robyn and Tom Wilhoit, the new owners of the Clayton Avenue resale shop, are settling into their first summer at the 100-year-old building. With goods literally hanging from its well-aged rafters, the couple said they finally feel like they have sufficient space to spread out and properly showcase the wide variety of items they have gathered.

Native Delawareans, the Wilhoits began their resale shop adventure after years in other fields. Initially, they opened Three Good Things in Oak Orchard — and quickly realized they needed more space.

“We outgrew the building on Route 24 in about three months,” Tom Wilhoit said.

When they were looking for a new spot, the Red Barn stood out because of its history, and because it offered three times the space of the Three Good Things spot, he said. As it turned out, one of the Wilhoits’ mentors in the resale business, George Ritter, was an owner of the former business located in the Red Barn.

Whether they’re working with the vendors who rent space in the Red Barn, helping families deal with emptying a home of decades’ worth of treasured items, or greeting regular customers and newcomers, the Wilhoits said they are having fun in their new spot.

“We like what we do,” Tom Wilhoit said.

A grand-opening celebration, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, will give the couple a chance to properly kick off their own grand adventure in style. Plans for the day include specials, such as a 1-2-3 sale, where goods are marked $1, $2 or $3. In addition to giving customers a chance to snag some great finds for very little money, it will give the Wilhoits a chance to bring in some inventory they currently don’t have room for.

Unlike Grandma’s attic, where things tend to gather dust for years, the Red Barn’s inventory changes often — sometimes daily, Tom Wilhoit said. That is why fans of the Red Barn have learned to visit frequently.

“A lot of our customers do come in at least weekly,” Robyn Wilhoit said.

In order to make more room for the ever-growing and ever-changing stock, the Wilhoits have made the barn’s second floor into additional retail space. In order to do so, Tom Wilhoit had to build stairs into the former feed store’s loft space, where there had previously only been a hatch. That added an extra 1,000 square feet, giving the store about 6,000 square feet of retail space.

A unique feature of the new space is Tom Wilhoit’s “chandelier” creation. Made of an old metal Montgomery Ward box spring, mason jars and blue lights, it’s an unusual combination that showcases the couple’s creative side. Also on the second floor are a number of barn-board paintings and plaques that are made by both Robyn and Tom Wilhoit.

The couple said they feel their efforts so far have been well-received.

“People have been very warm and inviting and welcoming,” Robyn Wilhoit said.

For now, the Red Barn staff consists of the Wilhoits and Eric Moyer, who helps with whatever happens to need doing at any particular time. The couple’s rescued greyhound, Anubis, might also venture out from his comfy spot behind the counter to say hello.

Embracing all aspects of their new venture, the couple readily admits neither is an expert in antiques or any field encompassed by their inventory. Robin Wilhoit is a former nurse; Tom Wilhoit has a background in business. They both say they are enjoying the learning process. Tom Wilhoit shows off a rare 1940s Dumont portable television, for example, reeling off facts about the company and its TVs as he walks through the store.

That is just one example of the things the two have had a chance to delve into as they bring their ever-changing collection of things, both historical and hysterical, to their customers. From new-with-tags Vera Bradley purses to a collection of circa 1800s Bibles, from a mirror bearing the logo of the 1970s rock group Styx to a 20th century Hoosier cabinet — it’s all part of history and culture, all tangible pieces of shared lives and all lovingly displayed at the Red Barn.

As much as each piece is cherished, there is, of course, the bottom line in such a business, which brings up the question of just how to arrive at prices for such a crazy-quilt of inventory. For the Wilhoits, it’s kind of a gut feeling.

“We kind of know what things go for,” Robyn Wilhoit said. “It also depends on what we paid for it,” she said.

The Red Barn is located at 28336 Clayton Street in Dagsboro, across the street from the Dagsboro fire hall. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; the store is closed on Mondays. The phone number at the shop is (302) 927-0369.