You can't step in the same The Cottage Market twice.
Every Wednesday, co-owners Amanda Maness and Taylor O'Neal completely re-stage and restock the interior of the 2,000-square-foot store, which specializes in modern farmhouse-style home decor and other goods made by local vendors.
Sound like a lot of work? "That's my favorite part," Maness said. "That's the reason (customers) need to come in every week because it's going to be different each time."
Maness and O'Neal recently moved the store here from Kechi. O'Neal bought the business from the previous owner about two years ago, using money she received when her car was totaled.
Never miss a local story.
“I just felt compelled to take it over," she said. "It was kind of a leap of faith.”
Maness joined as her partner a short time later. Neither had ever owned a business before, although Maness worked in retail for 13 years.
With help from family and friends, the two women took the interior of a 100-year-old building back to nearly its original look, pulling out two false ceilings, ripping up tile that had been attached with tar and leaving painted windows over the entrance that long ago began to peel picturesquely.
The Cottage Market sells items from more than 20 vendors, including home decor, gifts, bath and body products and food. "About 80 percent of the store is handmade, so it's one-of-a-kind items," Maness said. "Once it's gone, you probably won't see another one just like it."
Many items lean toward the modern farmhouse look, which Maness calls "white and chippy, a lot of metal and dust, vintage items that are repurposed, black and white."
Often, it's "using items in an unexpected way," she said, such as turning a saw or window into wall art.
Among the store's vendors is Sparrow Lettering, whose owner decorates prints, globes and other items with calligraphy. "Right now she has Christmas ornaments," Maness said, adding that she also teaches a calligraphy class in the store once a month. Cookie-making, cake decorating and photography classes are also offered.
Nectar Republic, which sells candles and body products, and Rust and Wood, which offers "vintage finds and hand-painted signs," are two more vendors. The store also partners with an interior design business, Joyful Styling Co., which "can help get that farmhouse look in your home," Maness said.
The partners try to maintain a policy of "one vendor per niche" so as to prevent in-store competition. Maness and O'Neal also sell items they've made – repurposed furniture and hand-painted windows, respectively.
“The store is kind of my creative outlet," O'Neal said. "It's what I really love to do.”
The store doubled in size with its move to Valley Center, and the two owners say they plan to double the size again next year by taking over a space next door. The store is open noon through 7 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“The Valley Center community is amazing," O'Neal said. "They've really supported us.”