1. Highlight what you like. Maybe pantry staples don't whet your decorating appetite, but vintage hats, sewing notions or farm gear get your creative juices flowing. If that's the case, set up an old-timey millinery shop, a textile emporium or a feed store.
2. Get the big stuff first. "You've got to have a cash register and a counter to run a store," Karen says. Look at flea markets and online antiques sellers for vintage cash registers and store counters. Or, build a new counter or adapt an inexpensive readymade checkout to suit your scheme.
3. Name it. Design a sign that declares your store name and proclaims you as proprietor. Remember to include the date your business was established; Karen and Bob chose the year of their wedding as the born-on date for Grinns General Store.
4. Limit stock to start. Karen says all you'll really need is the counter, the register and one wall of shelves. Start with larger packages and containers to fill out store space and shelves quickly. Then, add in smaller "merchandise" as you continue to collect.
5. Think like a merchandiser. Keep your eyes open for antique, vintage and reproduction products that underscore your store's purpose. Don't forget to look for era-apt display stands, cases and racks that will give you more places to show off your wares.
6. Invite folks in. Make sure you include some type of seating or eating area within your store where your "customers" can kick back, relax and enjoy the shopping scene. A long wood table that seats 12 provides conversation space in the Grinns' store.
Written by Ann Wilson
Photographed by Bill Mathews
Styled by Gloria Gale