Local Farmhouse

Amy Wasson, owner of The Local Farmhouse, is eager to see the community’s reaction to her new shop at 55 N. Vermilion St., during a Dec. 11 soft opening.

DANVILLE — When Amy and Troy Wasson decided to name their new store The Local Farmhouse, they wanted it to emphasis the “shop local, support local entrepreneurs” aspect of their business.

The Danville couple also hopes the addition of their home décor shop at 55 N. Vermilion St. will help to reinvigorate Downtown Danville.

Although the couple is still putting the finishing touches on the shop and wasn’t quite ready to open the store in time for today’s nationwide Shop Local/Small Business Saturday initiative, a soft opening is planned for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11. A grand opening will take place in March.

“We’re going to have a soft opening and see what people gravitate to,” Amy said. “I’ll see what they really enjoy. If something doesn’t do well, I’ll phase it out and bring in what they want.”

Those who attend Danville’s Night of Lights Parade at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, will get a sneak peek of the store and be able to do some light window shopping.

“We will take down the paper and light our window displays and take the plastic off the sign overhead on the third,” Troy said.

The shop is chockfull of home décor, custom candles, boutique clothing, accessories and jewelry.

“I wanted to reach out to all ages of women,” Amy said of her merchandise selection. “We hit all price ranges, so a little girl can buy a gift for her daddy for $3 or $4, or a guy can come in here and find something to buy for his girlfriend.

“There’s nothing in here I wouldn’t put in my own home,” she added. “I wanted to stay local, but I tried to give it a boho edge.”

To help emphasize that “local” flavor, the shop will carry several products made by a handful of local women entrepreneurs, such as bracelets, lip gloss, signs, macramé ornaments and custom candles.

“I tried to stick with female-run businesses because this is how I started,” Amy said. “I started making signs out of my home.”

It was her sign-making business that inspired her to open a home décor store. Amy said she first looked at possible locations in St. Joseph before settling on Downtown Danville.

“I want to complement the other places we already have downtown,” she said.

The search was on for a suitable downtown location when Troy noticed the empty storefront at 55 N. Vermilion St., where Mag’s Men’s Wear had been located for more than 30 years until it closed in 2013. More recently, the building had been purchased by someone who wanted to open a barber shop there.

“I started looking at buildings, but they wanted a two- or three-year lease,” Troy said. “I was driving on North Vermilion when I saw this storefront, and I got on Facebook to ask who owned the Bearded Barber Shop.”

After getting in contact with the building’s owner, he agreed to open it up and show Troy around.

“I knew the minute I walked through the door that I wanted this building,” Troy said. “It was February 7 when I looked at it, and we bought it in March.”

The building was far from move-in ready, but Troy, who has renovated spaces including the couple’s own home, was up for the challenge.

“It took several weeks of cleaning out before we could start renovations,” he said. “The roof was caved-in in the back, and we had leaks in the back and leaks in the front.”

Amy added, “We had no heating, no air conditioning, and water had been getting in for years.”

The previous owner, however, had started chipping away at a concrete floor that revealed hardwood floors underneath that are more than 100 years old, she said.

Not only is the old wooden floor on full display inside the shop, but so is the original tin ceiling. The store’s large, white chippy paint counter with multiple drawers was one of the couple’s finds this summer at a vintage market in Rockford.

“There’s nothing like renovating an old building and bringing it back to life,” Amy said. “I wanted to keep as much of the original as possible. It took a lot of love.”

Troy said the City of Danville helped make their decision to invest in downtown a little easier.

“It’s a little scary opening a business during COVID,” he admitted, joking, “We were like, ‘Let’s buy a building and invest everything we have in it.’”

But the couple was able to secure some grants from the city and was encouraged by the city’s administration.

“We did get help through the City of Danville, which helped a lot when we were trying to put in electricity,” Troy said.

“Without that, I don’t know if we would have been able to renovate it the way she wanted it done,” he said. “When you walk in the shop, you want it to be different than any other.”

The couple is looking forward to the community’s reaction at the Dec. 11 soft opening. The event will be a family affair with Amy’s mother and sister helping out and her dad greeting customers at the door, possibly wearing a Grinch outfit.

“My mom has helped me price every single thing in here,” she said.

The couple believes that Downtown Danville is on the verge of becoming something great once again.

“We’re fortunate and blessed to have done this,” Troy said. “We’re so fortunate to have bought this building.”

Amy agreed. “Downtown Danville is coming back to life, and we want to bring the heartbeat back.

“It makes being a part of this exciting.”

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