The Oxford Eagle
When Turner and Brittany Barnes opened The Barn Trading Company in the fall of 2010, their main concern was putting together a business plan that financing approval.
It was a difficult time to open a business. Foreclosures were taking place all over the country. Small businesses were closing their doors after generations of operation, and the unemployment rate was at an all-time high.
“Another concern was making money,” Brittany Barnes said. “Will we be able to sell enough products and have the right profit margins to keep our doors open?
“We researched the garden industry for months before putting together our business plan. We thought we hit every angle, but I’m here to tell you from first-hand experience, you may think you have the best plan ever, but putting it into action can be quite challenging.”
Today, the couple owns The Barn Trading Company, an Oxford business that sells animal feed, plants and has its own gift shop with items like candles, soap, pottery, picture frames, planters and décor.
Brittany Barnes is in charge of doing almost everything that keeps the store operating, but sometimes the couple comes together as a staff to make decisions.
“There is a hierarchy here at The Barn, just like there is in any business (owner-manager-employees),” Brittany Barnes said. “But decisions are not made by just one person. We are a team here, and everyone’s input matters.
“It takes a team to make this business work. We often use voting among team members to determine our decisions and the majority rules.”
Barnes said they opened the company because they wanted to offer something other than box stores. The company is named after her family, since the store was her husband and father-in-law’s idea.
Eileen Leonard is the master gardener for the barn. She has been on staff since the company opened. But she said the company doesn’t grow its plants or vegetables.
“We buy our products from wholesalers located across the country,” she said. “We are retail. Growers have different guidelines and regulations they have to follow.
“We order our plants based off of a few guidelines. We have to make sure that the plants we order live in this climate zone. The plants we order are based off of customer demand and its uniqueness.”
Barnes said the store’s price margins on plants are based off the garden retail industry margins.
“The garden industry has a suggested retail price on plants as a base guideline that we follow,” Barnes said. “We have a great point of sale system that tracks everything. It’s amazing what technology can do in terms of operating a business.
“We track our sales all the time. Whether it’s week by week, month to month or annually, we know exactly what was purchased, sold, and the profit margins we are making. Our system makes our lives much easier when it comes to ordering. It takes the guessing out of it.”
The store said they don’t compete with other area stores.
“There is no such thing as ‘competing’ with places like Walmart and Home Depot,” Barnes said. “We don’t even try. That is not the purpose of our business.”
Barnes said the purpose is to “provide the best quality service available.”
“People shop with us because of our customer service, quality, and uniqueness,” she said. “We offer products and services that the ‘box stores’ don’t, and that’s what sets us apart. That’s why people shop with us.”
Barnes said her future plans and goals for the company are to continue to serve our community in the best way possible.
“Our goal as a company is to provide the best products, services, and quality possible for our customers and our community,” she said. “We want to make sure that every person who walks through our front door comes back.”
For more information, visit thebarntradingcompany.com