Artisans and Antique Dealers Find a Home in Farmstead Attic
Terry and Andy Stone were getting on just fine with their enchanting Warren antiques shop, Bradford Mercantile, when their son Jonathan had an idea.
“Jonathan, who is an architect, recognized that the attic of the shop could be a neat space,” Terry says. “We weren’t really utilizing it for anything but storage.”
Over the past few months, Terry, Andy and Jonathan have been working to create a permanent space for antiques and vintage dealers to set up shop. “It’s going to be a really sweet take on a street market atmosphere,” Terry says. “It’s definitely still a work in progress, but we’re getting there.”
The family is further along than earlier this summer. Andy and Terry kept the storefront open all through renovations, and even offered their brave customers a construction discount. “There was this one woman who was coming in right after going to the hairdresser, and they were hanging the fire door and sanding the wood frame,” Terry says. “It was like there was fog rolling in there was so much dust. I felt so awful because she had just gotten her hair done! But those days are thankfully over.”
With construction officially complete, the family felt it was time for a new start and rebranded the store under the new name, Farmstead Mercantile. “We’ve been in this Warren location — which is on the foundation of the state's oldest saltwater livestock farm — for more than four years and we've been in business for more than six, but I see Farmstead as a new business. It’s a fresh start.”
The original antiques store remains the same: sweet-smelling potpourri, soy candles, quirky signage, vintage home goods, coveted shabby chic furniture. But the renovated attic looks more like an airy, sunlit barn than the storage space it once was — or the gray antiques fair it could so easily be. “One thing we noticed when we first put out a call to dealers was that a lot of people are trying to sell things that maybe they had in their garage or basement and were just trying to get rid of,” Andy says. “That’s not what we’re looking for.”
The dealer booths are set up like stables, which Andy hand-built from slabs of wood. “It comes in very handy having an architect for a son and an engineer for a husband,” Terry says. "My daughter, who is an RN, isn’t as involved with the store, but every now and then she’ll run to our house and do the dishes so there’s one less thing we have to do after a long day here.”
In addition to the permanent vendor booths — an idea that feels so modern yet so obvious — the new Farmstead will also display original works of art gallery-style along the stairwell and on attic walls.
“Jonathan wanted to find a way to reach out to a younger crowd,” Terry says. Son and mother worked together to choose works by contemporary artists, many of which are based out of Warren and Providence. “It’s very different from what is downstairs.”
The main store exclusively sells prints, while the renovated attic houses original paintings and mixed media works by artists including Richard Kaiser of Warren; Sally Caswell, a former RISD art professor; Jossy Lownes, who summers on Hog Island; Butch Lombardi, a photographer from Warren; Lee Neary, a Rhode Island artist who has exhibited at the Museum of Folk Art in Manhattan; and Kurt Snell, a Providence mixed media artist whose colorful woodblock collages were hand-picked by Jonathan.
Terry says Andy is working furiously to hang the art in preparation for a Harvest Open House on September 15 and 16, which will feature a beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres reception on Saturday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. Andy isn’t alone; several vendors spent this past Sunday readying their booths for the event.
Dianne Piche, an antiques collector and artisan who constructs sculptures of birds made out of paper mache, busied herself preparing her booth, called Sophie’s Trove; Mary Lou, a primitive antiques dealer, spent the day climbing up and down the attic stairs to stock her area, which features hand-stitched pillows, vintage furniture and more.
Terry says there are currently several vendors in place, but space is still available for interested parties. For information on the Harvest Open House or inquiring about a rental space, visit farmsteadri.com or stop by the shop at 384 Market St. in Warren.