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Revamped Barn Shops draw crowd to Chadds Ford

09/19/2017 12:42PM ● Published by J. Chambless

Visitors sampled Chaddsford wines, explored the shops and got to mingle at the reopening of the Chadds Ford Barn Shops on Sept. 16. (Photo by New Leaf Photography)

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Out of all the people who came to the Chadds Ford Barn Shops last weekend, several of them mentioned to Bri Brant that “they hadn't been here in 20 or 30 years. Some of them didn't know there were so many interesting things here,” Brant said on Monday afternoon.

Brant and her father purchased the cluster of independent shops in February, and have already made some changes to raise the profile of the businesses. Out front, a dual sign for Brant's Arden + James shop and the newly reconfigured Barbara Moore Fine Art shows passers-by that something new is happening. There are bright red Adirondack chairs grouped in two areas, and garden lights are strung across the gathering spaces, uniting the buildings.

“I wanted to bring more life back to the place,” Brant said. “I want it to be a village again.”

Toward that end, the yoga studio is moving to the same historic building as Brant's store and the 

Bri Brant in one of the new Adirondack chairs set up around the Chadds Ford Barn Shops. (Photo by John Chambless)

 art store. A cafe is coming to the former yoga studio space. “I can't wait to announce it,” Brant said, identifying the new owner as a Kennett Square woman who will be offering breakfast and lunch, coffee and sandwiches at the cafe. The addition of the cafe will give customers a reason to stick around in one of the inviting outdoor spaces, and Brant envisions people coming to just hang out or work on their laptops. “You could come here, bring your dog, read the newspaper,” Brant said. “The chef is terrific, wants to try new things, and she can cook anything. We are planning some special events in the evenings, too.”

Arden + James is an outlet for Brant's stunning leather bags, and she also offers crafts made by some of her artisan friends, including one corner with stuffed animals and toys located at child's height. People can pick up one of her beeswax candles or a small craft for small prices, as a way of increasing traffic to the shop. Of course, they can also splurge on one of her bags, but customers are also welcome to come and chat with Brant and Moore in the center office area, just as they always did when the space was The Chadds Ford Gallery.

For the opening party, nearby Chaddsford Winery donated plenty of wine, Brant said. The word-of-mouth and increased social media presence is going to pay off with people once again seeing the Barn Shops as a destination. “I'm just so glad I get to be a part of it,” Brant said, smiling. “I want people to create memories here. It's going to be awesome.”

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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