SPRING VALLEY — A Bellbrook couple always knew they’d open a store one day to house the old items they’d been salvaging over the years.
“We’d always say, ‘One day when we have a store’,” Stephanie Demko said, smiling. “We thought it was time.”
When Stephanie and Rich Demko found a building on West Main Street in Spring Valley for sale, they hauled the old doors, window frames and vintage decor out of their barn and opened Red Barn Salvage in October of 2017.
Over the 20-plus year they’d been collecting, the couple saved one piece in particular they’d picked up at an auction for their one-day store. So when that 21-foot-long hardware store counter fit, they knew they’d made the right decision.
“That’s the perfect spot for it,” Rich Demko said, pointing out the piece along the wall, filled with removable galvanized metal bins.
“It was like it was meant to be,” Stephanie Demko said.
What was once a dry goods store in 1853, later became an antique store that Stephanie Demko remembers visiting with her mom. Years later, the store has a different feel to it now than fine antiques, instead showcasing primitive items, some creatively re-purposed by the couple and their son Christian Demko.
The store is filled top to bottom: Old bicycles hang from the ceiling; wooden ladders and window shutters decorate the walls. Painted cabinets and shelves and even a vintage fridge store tea sets and leather luggage and hardcover books. There’s Stephanie’s favorite chalk board door, two early National Cash Register Co. cabinets, and an old factory cart Rich topped with a paneled door.
“If we find a table that we like the top to, and the legs are busted, we may put legs on it from barn wood. We also made kitchen tables from a barn floor,” Rich Demko said. “Some items aren’t up-cycled or re-purposed — just rustic items from years past.”
You won’t find anything new in the hobbyists’ store, except for a few sturdy wall hooks.
“We try not to buy anything new. Our main goal is to use vintage, original, old items. We’re not buying a bunch of stuff from another country; that’s not our goal,” Rich Demko said. “The last thing we want is these materials — that really aren’t being made anymore — to be going into a dumpster.”
And certainly no two items there are the same.
“The more eclectic, the better that we like it. The last thing we want is run of the mill, this is what it’s supposed to be used for. We like taking pieces of parts from different items and marrying them together,” he continued.
For now, the shop is open one day a week.
“I look forward coming to the shop every weekend,” his wife said, adding that she loves seeing new customers and “regulars” from the community.
Centering on community, the store sells other locally-made items — like greeting cards, goat milk soaps and Smales’ pretzels.
Customers can also rent items for weddings and events, including barn doors, galvanized tubs, wood crates and more.
Red Barn Salvage, 5 West Main Street, is open on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the winter and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting in April. Appointments can be made by calling 937-626-9297.