The saga continues….
After I was sufficiently manipulated into signing a lease on the barn, My Crazy Landlord (Steve) gave Mr. Country Palace Antiques exactly 30 days to vacate the premises. Well, suffice it to say that Mr. Country Palace was definitely not happy with the news that he was being kicked out of the barn. I heard he called me a few very choice words (through the small town grapevine, of course). Unfortunately I did feel a little guilty about this, especially when I found out that he had been living at the barn during his commercial tenancy….a big NO NO. Nobody seemed to know that he had been residing at 400 3rd Street for several years….I think the Town of Castle Rock was humbly embarrassed regarding this oversight. Yuck.
Anyway, my Crazy Landlord gave Mr. Country Palace exactly 30 days to ski doodle. After that happened, I had exactly 30 days before my rent payments would begin. I had a goal to open up May 1st, 1998 with a full Barn and I only had 60 days to accomplish this miracle.
I talked to everyone I knew…my florist, my photographer, my jeweler, my friends, and the people I did business with in town. In the meantime, once Mr. Country Palace left the premises, I had a nasty clean up job…and I mean nasty!
It took three (count ‘em, three!) big wheel trailers to get all of Mr. Country Palaces’ junk out of the barn. There was a constant procession of stuff being loaded onto these trailers day after day after day. Who knows if he even knew what he owned!
Once the barn was empty, the inevitable clean up began. There was old lumber and various unidentified items up in the rafters that needed to be removed. A couple of my new tenants (of the male persuasion) volunteered to get this stuff down out the rafters…I remember driving by one day and the dust was so thick , I couldn’t see inside the barn at all. I got out of my car and called into the barn asking if anyone was is there. Out the dust walked two very grimy men wearing surgical masks and eye goggles…it was like something out of a sci-fi movie! I was firmly instructed to leave and not to come back for at least 24 hours. This would not be the first time I would be instructed to leave.
Anyway, while clean up was underway, I spent my time rounding up the prospective merchants that would eventually be my ‘charter merchants’ when opening up The Barn. Downtown Castle Rock at the time was so devoid of any fun retail that almost anything that I brought into The Barn was new! I had plenty of antiques, but I also was rounding up equestrian clothing, seasonal collectibles and home décor, baby clothes, photography and floral.
Once the barn was reasonably clean, I took a look around and realized that I had a huge problem…all the upstairs space had rotten flooring, the catwalk was unsafe, the upstairs railing was mostly missing (or disintegrating) and the single ancient staircase available in the building was way too small to accommodate that traffic that I hoped to eventually have. Please understand that I couldn’t do a realistic ‘walk through’ of the barn before I signed the lease…there was simply too much stuff in there and it covered up the potential problems that I was now seeing with the building.
My Crazy Landlord (who by this time was just gushing with pride over what was going on in his building) gave me the name of a contactor that I could use to repair the upstairs and put in a new staircase. His name was (and still is) David. I called David and outlined the work that I needed to get done (my timeframe being ‘NOW’) and he told me that he would be happy to do the work, but he was pretty booked up for a while. I urgently told him that I didn’t have “a while” and what would it take to get his immediate attention? Well, I immediately got his attention and, apparently because I was such a pushy broad, he told me to go to HELL as he didn’t like being bullied. Hmmmm….I guess I needed to learn a thing or two about working in a small town.
I told My Crazy Landlord about my conversation with David. Steve silently shook his head at me, dialed David’s number and David was at The Barn the next day. Remember folks, this was 14 years ago…I am now MUCH better at dealing with people (I think). David didn’t like me for a long time after this happened…but we became friends and are still friends today. I don’t know what I would do without him!
Over the next week or so I was sternly told to leave the premises at least twice by my Crazy Landlord (so he could save my project)….I guess I had A LOT more to learn. I have kind of a problem with authority. Unfortunately, the next people that I started out badly with belonged to the Building Department with The Town of Castle Rock.
More Barn history coming later…