My Grandmother Used IT, My Mom Threw IT Away & I TURNED IT INTO a BUSINESS!

Johanna Schaitel

Posted on April 03 2020

My Grandmother Used IT, My Mom Threw IT Away & I TURNED IT INTO a BUSINESS!
I grew up on a farm, yup that’s me, I’ve been called Johanna, Jojo or Hanna Jo. My mother tells the story (more times than I’d like), about how at the adorable age of 2, I declared that I didn’t like “tigs (pigs), “talves” (calves), or tows” (cows)!  For the record, when the cows got out, I ran into the house, while my big sisters chased them back to the barn. What I do love about farms is the history, the nooks and crannies, the cool wood rafters and the feel of home.


But, this farmgirl wanted more in life! Perhaps I’d become a dancer, maybe a model, (ok, so I was no different than any 4 year old little girl with big dreams, at least I didn’t say princess! ) I went to college in pursuit of becoming a fashion designer, but I changed my major to a retail business degree instead, because my real passion was to run my own store. You know that job where you work 14 hrs a day, 7 days a week, including all the holidays, you’re always worried about what the next big thing is going to be and you end up spending tons of money you don’t have! (perhaps I should have looked into that princess thing a bit more!)

My husband tells everyone, “Johanna is super creative and very driven. She never wait for opportunity to come knocking, she goes out and create the opportunity and then she repeatedly, knock on it’s door til it opens”.  He then adds that, “yes, SHE came knocking on HIS door too!” (so true, but I certainly wasn’t going to let someone else have him!!)

Fast forward to shortly after we were married, Neil, would come home from work and there would be missing furniture, yup, I sold it. In the driveway, there be a vehicle full of, well… someone else’s garbage. I was quite the “junker”, I’d stop at farms unannounced looking for old stuff, or I’d go dumpster diving and garbage picking. (I’m surprised I wasn’t arrested trying to get to something I simple had to have!) I started fixing up and repurposing things, then I’d sell them out of our backyard.  My slogan became my grandmother used it, my mother threw it away and I bought (and then sold) it!  I was turning trash into cash and loving it!  Finally, I decided to open a pop-up, store downtown Baldwin, WI for just a few weeks during the holiday season. 

My Van Stuffed to the Brim With Salvaged Finds

My Backyard Full of My Finds & For Sale Items

The Pop-up Store Sign Open Weekends thur Christmas

Little did I know, what a wonderful response the store would get! Everyone was asking me to open on a permanent basis. So, I started planning for the spring grand re-opening, that was 9+ years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. (Like I have time for that, did I mention we have 5 kids under the age of 11 and a business to run)


That downtown location was an old store front full of character and charm! (…along with a leaky roof and other questionable issues).

That First Store Has Great Curb Appeal With a Pretty Window Display


Valentines Day


Meanwhile, I had my eye on this cute little barn just outside of town, it was perfect, this farm-girl loved it. (especially since there were no actual “tows” (cows) “talves” (calves) or “tigs” (pigs) to run away from!)


Now keep in mind it wasn’t available to rent, but again, that didn’t stop me.  I went and knock on that door of opportunity and asked if he’d be interested in selling, he said he’d had a long term renter in the pole building, a tire shop and wouldn’t sell for that reason, so that door didn’t open right away, but with persistence we finally were able to rent just the little quaint barn.

It was perfect, the lower portion had been remodel with small cubicles, a divided place for each vendor.  However, the large hay loft above was all original,  a gable roof with rustic wooden beams, the kind of place country brides swoon over. It was perfect, I loved it and so did everyone else! We moved in and had the most perfect setting ever!

Sadly, life in the loft was short lived, it just wasn’t up to code and could no longer be used as an area where customers could roam. Apparently, it was built to hold thousands of pounds of hay, but today’s building codes said it can’t hold the weight of a few customers.  (Gotta love progress right?) Suddenly we lost 50% of our display area and didn’t know what we were going to do…

Barn Before We Move In

We Moved & Later Changed Our Name Too

Loft Displays

However, when one door closes another one opens, right? It was just 4 days after the inspector shut down our loft, that the landlord told us the tire shop (you know the one in the pole building, that he wouldn’t sell because of the long term renter), was going out of business. Wow, talk about a gift, so after a gruelling clean up of old tires and oil smell, we moved into that space as renters.

It wasn’t long after, that the owner decided to sell the property, which included the barn and pole building along with a 3 car garage/shop, a 2 bedroom farmhouse and surrounding property.  Did I mention that just because I have BIG DREAMS didn’t mean we have BIG POCKETBOOKS to match. (like that was going to slow me down, opportunity had knocked and I was going to find a way to open that door!!)  Plus, if we didn’t buy it, potentially anyone could buy it and kick us to the curb.


Suddenly, we were faced with a big decision, go BIG or go HOME!!


We were currently living in a nice 5 bedroom, 2400 sq ft. home, which to be honest was a bit big for us, since Neil’s older 2 kids had move out. Yet, the little 2 bedroom house was a bit small for Neil and I, and our 2 young sons, Zephyr & Briggs.  But suddenly, we were faced with a big decision, go big or go home!  So we purchased the property, (or bought the farm, so to speak), we sold our big house and move into the little farmhouse. 

Home We Sold to Buy the Business

Farmhouse We Purchased With The Business

It was definitely, a leap of faith, especially if you know the story that happened to Neil just a few months prior. It was 6 months after Briggs was born, Neil was driving to a work related meeting and my faith was tested to the core, (I almost became a widow that day!) His car went under the belly of a semi-truck that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was inches from losing his life. It took multiple surgeries, and months of 24/7 care, nursing Neil back to health. Meanwhile, I was being a “single” mom to a 6 month old and a 4 year old. On top of that, the store went from a fun hobby for me, to being the main source of income for our family. It was a tough time but we saw God’s Hand every step of the way, He provided for us, by bringing many amazing people into our lives, meals were cook, lawns were mowed, the list goes on and on. We’ve been blessed and the silver lining is that Neil, ended up not being able to return to work, but is now a full time dad and business partner in the company. God certainly works in mysterious ways!

Rescue Crews By Neil’s Car

Neil Had a Long Recover Back to Health


We were finally beginning to get back on our feet after Neil’s accident and suddenly God said, I’m not done with your story yet, baby #3 was on its way! So suddenly that little white farmhouse, (did I mention, LITTLE) just got a whole lot smaller… It wasn’t too much time after our sweet baby boy , Maverick was born that we also added our 10 yr old niece, Hailey and 9 yr old, nephew Aidan to our family. So we went from 4 people to 7 in one quick sweep. 

Our Family Holiday Card!!

We were able to rent the farmhouse out to friends, who needed a place to stay while their new home was being built. Not only did they rent the little white farmhouse, they helped us give it some much needed updates, but at the same time returning it to its original history. They moved out this spring (2018) and now we are getting it ready to be a retail space for the business.

Watch for the


Occasional Shop – Only Open a Few Weekends a Year


It’s a place to inspire you… to love the space… you live in too…!!!


Oh yeah, I almost forgot, in the meantime we move into another house, with lots of space for the kids to be able to move around, however it’s very modern… not this farm-girls style at all.  I like the old charm and craftsmanship,  the unique details, the history, knowing someone spent time baking bread in that kitchen, 100 years ago.  I just love that!  I actually have my eye on an old empty house that still have the original dark oak built-in’s, rich wood floors and lots of large windows… yup you guessed it… It not for sale either, so I went knocking on that door too (well by that I mean repeatedly, called the owner who was in Florida for the winter!!) The only catch is, the owner wants it moved off his property, so if you see a house going down the road anytime in the near future, just smile and know that I’m at it again!!!

Keep Restyling…



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