I'll start with how a girl from Pittsburgh became a fan of MacKenzie-Childs. There isn't a Neiman Marcus in my city and from what I can surmise, there is only one MacKenzie-Childs retailer in all of western PA-- Glassworks, a small shop in Shady Side, that I've never been.
I discovered the brand accidentally a few years ago, while watching the (now canceled) TLC show Four Houses. I loved that show! It featured 4 home owners (all strangers) competing against each other on who had the best home. Each house usually contrasted dramatically in architectural design and decor from the previous abode. It was typical for the likes of a modern, contemporary house to be compared to a traditional colonial, a luxury high rise condo and/or a quaint log cabin. After touring each house, the home owners voted on whose place had the most panache. The episode that I'm calling upon highlighted the eccentric Victoria MacKenzie-Childs' ferry boat house in the New York City area. I was in awe of how irreverent this woman was-- a true character! When I went to research more about her professional background, I discovered that her charming decor was actually a well-known force in the home furnishing world. I was instantly a fan.
|Richard & Victoria MacKenzie-Childs in front of the Aurora property.|
Since I've never been to the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale, I did a bit of research prior to my journey. I was surprised to find that people from all over the country flock to small town Aurora for the annual event. Apparently, MacKenzie-Childs is highly popular in California and Texas. 50-80% off high-end items that rarely go on sale must be enough to send shoppers into a frenzy. I heard tales of people who camped out to secure their place in line but figured it was an exaggeration. The sale runs from Thursday-Sunday so I planned for a Friday afternoon arrival. I presumed that would be an okay time to show up. "How bad could it be?" I thought to myself. I thought wrong.
|I had never been to this part of my home state before. I absolutely love the mountains so I appreciated every mile of the drive.|
|The MacKenzie-Child estate and studios are picturesque.|
|The MacKenzie-Childs grounds in Aurora, New York are absolutely beautiful.|
|The line to get into the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale stretches to the road by 7:30 am.|
|Photo Courtesy: Mountain Breaths Blog|
The only thing I can compare the maniacal crowds who show up to the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale is to those who camp out in front of Wal-Mart on Black Friday. But this group of gals is far more classy and civilized. I didn't witness any brawls over the last $90 courtly check faux pumpkin (sadly, I missed out on the smallest size and felt it wasn't even worth the discounted price). If you're bothered by crowds, the amount of organized chaos happening within the tents can be daunting. On my way out of the parking lot on Friday, I witnessed one shopper, a woman who appeared to be in her late forties, loading a Mercedes SUV with the help of, wait for it, eight assistants. She had more boxes than could probably fit comfortably in her large vehicle with Massachusetts license plates. I wondered what her MacKenzie-Childs mansion might look like on the cape and if she was also in the market to adopt a 30-year-old redhead. "Probably an ebay power seller," a fifty-something solo shopper said to me as I gazed in awe of what I was witnessing.
As a member of the first group let in on Saturday morning, I was able to make my way through the tents at an accelerated pace. I seemingly made it to the check-out in record time as there was no additional wait to get to the register (note: I heard from other shoppers that you can sometimes wait an additional hour or more in line just to pay for your things). I was once again pleased with my performance. I managed to get into the sale within a reasonable time frame, find most of the things I wanted, stay under budget and get out in record time! My friend and I had an afternoon of wine tasting planned and boy were we ready for the booze. I discreetly asked the young girl who rang me up what the highest amount of money she saw spent so far was. An unfathomable $15,000 was the answer. I wondered if it was the same woman I had seen the day before. But from the looks of the shopping carts all around the Barn Sale, it seemed that this sort of figure was not out of the ordinary. I pondered my life decisions and headed toward the wineries.
- Courtly Check Enamel Tea Kettle, This was probably the item I wanted the most as it really makes such a difference in a kitchen's overall vibe. $52.50/2 quart kettle.
- Courtly Check Enamel Deep Container, I was happy to find this. I talked a few other women into buying these as well for its versatility. It could be repurposed for a number of uses. $22.
- Courtly Check Enamel Salt & Pepper Shakers, I thought these would look nice in the kitchen along with my tea kettle. $25.
- Courtly Check Pup Placemat, This is a large mat that is perfect for Ireland's feeding station. Again, another affordable way to tie in the courtly theme into your kitchen without breaking the bank. $14.
- Courtly Check 1" Ribbon, I plan to use this ribbon for various DIY projects- vases, pumpkins, etc. The ribbon is the most affordable way to bring the MacKenzie-Childs scheme into your home. $15.
- Courtly Check Paper Napkins, I wanted to get cocktail napkins but didn't have the energy to sort through the large bins. I was satisfied with the full size napkins and plan to use them as display. If I knew how to skillfully decoupage, these could also come in handy for pumpkin DIYs. $4.48/pack of 20.
- Courtly Check Straws, This was one of the highest items on my wish list. I'm a big fan of straws and love these for my bar cart! $2.13/box of 25.
- Coffee Table Book: The Way We Live With the Things We Love, I was happy to come across a small section of books for sale within the tents. If you know me, you know how much I love coffee table books and this one was actually on my Pinterest Wish List. Great price at only $13.50.
Regrets: Not having the space in my suitcase (or my wallet) to bring back larger items like the cheese platter, three-tiered sweets stand, trays, broom, furniture, and those elusive faux pumpkins. I also didn't score a ceramic coffee mug.
Pro Tips: Get there early. Really early. Before 7 am. Be prepared to stand in line for extended periods of time so dress appropriately and remember to stay hydrated. Light food, drinks and even alcohol is sold near the line. Items are constantly being restocked so chances are, even if you wait until Saturday, most of the items on your wish list will still be there.
Where to Stay: The charming hotel on the lake in Aurora was booked so we stayed at a fairly nice Inn in nearby Auburn. Not far away from the Barn Sale and relatively close to the wineries.
Will I Go Again: I'd absolutely do it over but I'll probably give it a few years and maybe stay along Seneca Lake where there are more wineries and distilleries. It was a fun trip and as a now devoted MacKenzie-Childs fan, I will be back for my big ticket ceramic items!