Some days we turn around and ask each other, “How did we get here?”
While the steps have sometimes been foggy, the path has always been clear.
Customers asked for it. What started out as a small “women’s section” in the O.A. Newton Farm & Ranch hardware store in 2016 has become a trendy gift boutique on the way to the beach. Men came in to browse and chat, but their better-half usually stayed in the car. We didn’t blame them. Bolts and ag parts have a reputation for being boring. On occasion, a woman would venture in and ask if we had anything she might be interested in. We scoured hardware shows for home and garden décor, women’s gear, and kitchen stuff and found a few items that we thought would compliment “the farmer’s wife.” It was literally this, guys… And we were so proud of it.
So here it was. Our less than 200 square foot “women’s section.” Our corner that was once the conference room for the dissolved Irrigation Sales Department of O.A. Newton. We waited for women to come in and excitedly showed them the cute boots, the washable rugs, the trendy soaps… But our community wanted more. So more we found. In fact, so much more that it no longer fit in the space. It no longer felt like it belonged in a hardware store. We needed a bigger corner…
The Farm Shop. 1948. Newton’s business was good… real good. New building spaces, diverse business and additional employees were popping up faster than the corn on Newton Farms. There was the Hatchery, the Mill, the Farms, the Office, and among many other operations there was the Farm Equipment Department. It was modern and beautiful. You could purchase your ag equipment in the “front display building” facing Route 13, and have paint and repair handled in the back. This was the Farm Shop. As business evolved over the next 70 years, the Farm Shop became obsolete and when we opened the door in late 2017 to assess it’s viability for a gift shop, poor thing had really hit a low point. You guys didn’t see it before so, picture yourself in a dimly lit garage with high, open, ceilings. On all sides of you are rusty pallet shelves that are likely older than you are. They’re mostly dented… still strong. They’re also much taller. Like, get yourself a forklift taller. If you’re looking for something specific, just check with Norman. He knows what’s on every shelf. On the cold garage floor are embedded oil stains from commercial ag equipment. It’s cold in the winter, but you can find a warm spot for a paint project right beneath one of the few hanging heaters. The windows on the west end are painted over. Helps with the summer heat, and if you really need a breeze, go on and roll up the garage door facing Newton Road on the north side. What a perfect spot for a chic boutique, said no one ever. While we didn’t think to host a photoshoot for the dust bunnies, we were able to screen grab this May 2018 google street view just for the occasion. Thank you for the reminder, Google Gods, but g’on ahead and update that because now it’s just frightening to anyone googling the Market.
We had vision. Sort of. Truth be told, at one point it was going to be painted purple. We debated what would line the shelves, nitpicked the color of the shelves, the hours, the signage… There were a lot of ideas, but the very first decision to be made was naming her. It was never debated… it fit like that last puzzle piece. Exciting, satisfying, complete. It was always going to be Lindenmere Market. We won’t dive too far into the beautiful history of O.A. Newton & Son Company today (meet us here tomorrow?), but it’s important to know a few things in order to understand what’s in a name. Oliver Newton and his son Warren began O.A. Newton & Son Co. in 1916. Like we mentioned, business was good. Some years tougher than others, but quick to pivot and provide for the needs if the community when they needed to. As businesses often do, the Newton companies were passed down through the generations of the family, and as they did back then, usually to a son. The thing is, Warren was blessed with daughters, and no sons. His daughter Jane married Bob Rider, who came to work for his wife’s family business, and would eventually become the President & CEO of the company. Jane was beautiful and graceful, a fighter, a woman of faith and a steward of community. Our vision was to embody her legacy through the store and so we chose to name the store for her farmette, Lindenmere Farm, located on the edge of town of Bridgeville.
What’s old is new again. We preserved as much of the building as we could. The west facing windows offer us the most beautiful sunsets symbolizing gratitude at the end of each day we get to do business. We replaced the roll-up door with a glass one so that we could enjoy the view. It’s Newton Farms and it’s beautiful. Come see it between May and August and you’ll understand. Is there anything more profound than the fact that we’re walking the same concrete floor as those with the hands that built her over 70 years ago? We literally can’t stop the oil stains from rising up in the floor. Initially frustrating, they relentlessly invite us to acknowledge our roots, and we always accept. The original steel framework ceiling bridges vibes of our past to our present day Material Handling business. And the white exterior? While you might find it to be ordinary or expected, it’s a nod to the white farmhouse that Bob, Jane and the kids lived in at Lindenmere Farm.
We finally opened. We spent seven months dreaming and working and were able to have a soft opening for the store in July 2018. And in October 2018, surrounded by employees and community, we cut the ribbon on the beginning of this exciting adventure.
Our future is bright. This Fall we will celebrate three years of welcoming guests to the Lindenmere Market. We’ve learned from each day behind us and have vision for each day ahead of us. Having no expectations coming into this project has left the door open for anything to happen, and we welcome it. We take each day as it comes at us with ordering product, reaching our customers, and the other countless responsibilities that no one tells you about when you have the idea to open a retail store. Today, we got a website with a blog. Tomorrow? A tik tok? Probably not, but never say never. We are deeply grateful for our employees who have helped us physically create this space and those that build on it each day by cultivating an environment of community, and to our customers who support us in a world where there are many choices. If you haven’t stopped by the market just yet, please do as we would love to welcome you to our little corner.
For more information on the history of O.A. Newton, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org