Antiques & Collectibles: There are big possibilities in a shed-based business

Small business in a garden shed? You bet, as sheds are not just for storing garden equipment any more.

Did you know that in 2012 Alex Johnson, journalist and author of "Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution," estimated that around the world more than 80,000 workers now are based in garden sheds and outbuildings. Shed-based businesses aren't a new thing, he says.

"It's been going on for centuries, but the more recent technological revolution has been a major driver, together with an increase in people wanting to run their own business from home," he said. "It's not just writers and creative folks, the diversity is very wide."

Why run a business from a shed and not elsewhere in your home?

Folks I have talked to found it's easier to prevent those you live with from invading your work space and that spare bedroom can remain just that. You can even add value to your property by building or buying a garden shed.


Family affair

And, working in a shed is much more fun, as owner Jean Galasinski, of Mrs. Wreny's House, in Trempealeau, Wis., can attest.

"We moved here in October 2002," she said. "The little house (it's 18 feet wide by 25 feet long) was already here. My dad was retired and wanted to have a lil' 'antique' shop. He had been collecting for years and thought it would be fun for us as a family to do.

"He died of a brain stem stroke in 2002," Galasinski said. "The shop idea was forgotten about and my mom didn't want to open a shop. Then one day she said that she wanted to open up the shop and asked if my family would help with it, so in September 2004 Mrs. Wreny's House was officially opened and we have been open ever since.

"We are a seasonal lil' shoppe out on the prairie in the town of Trempealeau and open occasionally during the months of September to December," Galasinski said. "We have primitives, country, vintage, rustic, re-purposed, re-cycled, farm finds and so much more. No consignment. The goal is to open Sept. 9."

Garden shed, bait shop

Michelle (Shelly) Peterson, a vendor at Old River Valley Antique Mall, Stewartville, at one time had the little outside cottage by the Rochester antique mall at 3727 Commercial Drive, Rochester. Now she has one of the garden sheds at Old River Valley.

"The Cottage is one of the sheds carrying an assortment of items that would have been used on a farm," she said. "Such as cow feeders that are turned into planters and bird baths. Washtubs, pulleys, milk cans, chicken coop, egg baskets and more. The cottage shed is 10-by-20 (feet) and I still have a spot in the mall. My hours do vary … but I will be open mainly in the spring, summer and fall.


"I go to rummage sales, thrift shops, auctions and buy items from customers coming in the shop," Peterson said. "Coming soon is a ladies night out, Aug. 30 with ladies coming on a trolley and visiting our shop, too."

The Cottage Cupboard is not a garden shed, but was a former bait shop at 570 Franklin St. (near the railroad tracks), Winona. Carol Loshek and Coleen Wanek are the main owners.

"Hidden behind the farmboard wooden walls is the Cottage Cupboard and one of Winona's secret shops," Loshek said. "We are open only a few times a year with unique locally handmade crafts, like re-purposed furniture, soy candles, soaps, jewelry, and random one-of-a-kind creations. Our fall sale will be Sept. 14-16." Hours will be noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 14 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15-16.

Advice for entrepreneurs

There are a number of factors to consider before making your purchase, including size, price, materials used and design. Checking in with Chris Rand Kujath, owner Old River Valley, where various new sheds are sold: "Buy a good quality one, otherwise everything will get damp. Also, buy one that's as big as you can afford — the extra space will make a difference."

My advice is to get a shed with a nice big window too, as the light will make you feel happier and you'll be more productive. Become acquainted with zoning ordinances, deed restrictions and building codes. Depending on your area, you may need a building permit. Building codes may determine how far the shed must set back from property lines and what materials are acceptable for siding.


If you go


Mrs. Wreny's House

N13435 Wright Drive, Trempealeau, Wis.


Old River Valley Antique Mall

204 S. Main St., Stewartville


The Cottage Cupboard

570 Franklin St., Winona



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