Shawna’s Christmas barn features many hand-made holiday items on Fruit Avenue in Medina

Photos by Ginny Kropf: From left, Chris and Shawna Baldwin of Medina and Richard Monica of Kent stand on the front porch of Shawna’s Christmas barn on Fruit Avenue, which opens today for its annual Christmas sale.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 November 2022 at 9:15 am

MEDINA – Crafting and Christmas are two of Shawna Baldwin’s favorite things, and she has managed to merge them into a popular hobby and business.

Shawna and her husband Chris live with her parents Bob and Mary Lou Blount on Fruit Avenue, where Shawna grew up loving crafts and Christmas. Her mom taught her to embroider when she was 7 or 8 and to quilt when she was 15.

As time went on, Shawna began to get more involved in antiques, collectibles and crafts.

“I always liked making things, especially with dried flowers, and had shows where I sold lots of things,” Shawna said.

Her first shop was Nooks and Crannies in the Baldwin Room at the former Apple Grove in 1991.  After she married Chris, they bought Jeddo Mills and restored that to an antique shop. Then they had Emma, and Shawna wanted to stay home and raise her daughter, so she started to supply gift shops with dried flowers and folk art, and they sold Jeddo Mills.

“I needed a workshop, so we built this barn,” Shawna said.

This glass of milk and cookie for Santa look real enough to eat. This is one of the many gifts in Shawna Baldwin’s Christmas barn, which opens today. Richard Monica holds one of his artificial Christmas cakes, which he sells at Shawna Baldwin’s Christmas barn on Fruit Avenue, along with many one-of-a-kind items.

Emma was growing up and Shawna went to work full time, while continuing to make hand-crafted items. She bought the Whole Nine Yards on Main Street in Medina, but when the economy soured and the price of cotton doubled, she closed the store and went to work at Lynoaken Farms, baking, packing apples and running the gift shop.

“The barn became a playhouse for Emma and her friends,” Shawna said.

About then, Shawna began supplying Julie Fenton from Between the Vines shop with crafts. When the opportunity arose to take a job in labor relations at Niagara-Orleans BOCES, she was hired.

Shawna Baldwin got an early birthday present when her husband Chris drove this restored 1954 International truck into their yard.

That gave her the perfect opportunity to sell her crafts in their annual craft show with Richard Monica, former owner of Albion Antiques and Christmas Shop. Monica, who is a retired art teacher from Spencerport, now lends his creative genius to Shawna’s Christmas barn.

In 2020, due to Covid-19, BOCES canceled its annual craft show and Shawna decided to do it safely, with limited customers wearing masks, in her barn. Customers came, and it was very successful, she said. News of her barn had spread, and customers came from as far as Oswego and Baldwinsville.

“Last year was even bigger, and we realized we were out of room,” Shawna said. “Last summer we hired Sam Barber to add on to the barn. I realize I can sell my merchandise online, but Richard and I want the personal contact with people. We want the hugs, to see their eyes light up and hear their gasps when they see what we have.”

Chris and Shawna, with the help of family and friends, finished the barn, which is now 2/3 bigger than it was.

“Our 30th wedding anniversary was this year and we were going to Scotland,” Shawna said. “But when it came down to going to Scotland or building a bigger barn, we built a bigger barn.”

“You can’t create that old-time feeling in a modern building,” Chris said.

Shawna starts planning for her Christmas inventory in February. Much of the merchandise is hand made, such as Monica’s wooden ark and animals, and his handmade (not real) Christmas cakes and puddings.

Pieces of scrap wood left from the barn construction were fashioned into little villages, churches, lanterns and ornaments by Chris. They have already bought fresh trees, from which Shawna is making wreaths and swags.

Shawna still quilts and embroiders Christmas items, makes wool penny rugs and crochets popcorn garlands, but her favorite is calligraphy, and many wall hangings are the result of her talent.

Antiques in the store include a 1700s mahogany bed frame and a 1700s cradle.

Her goal is to have tie-dying and wreath-making classes and to develop a “Santa Trail” of area holiday shops.

“This is what I want to retire to some day,” Shawna said.

Chris Baldwin made this church from scraps of wood left from the addition to their Christmas barn.

She thinks all the area craft and holiday stores complement each other.

Her barn will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 11, 12, 18, 19 and Dec. 2 and 3; and from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 13, 20 and Dec. 4. They are closed Thanksgiving weekend so families can spend the holiday together.

Any merchandise which is left over after Dec. 4 will be boxed up and saved for next year, but Shawna said last year they sold everything. She is already planning bigger and better things for next year.

Her barn features one-of-a-kind creations, vintage ornaments and antiques, handmade ornaments and decorations, angels, snowmen and Santas, and fresh wreaths and swags.

A special attraction was added to the décor on Wednesday morning. Shawna and Richard were carrying more decorations and merchandise into the barn, when an old antique truck came down the road and pulled onto the lawn in front of the barn.

It was Chris in a 1954 International pickup they owned, which hadn’t run in a year. Unknown to Shawna, he and a friend have been working to get it in running order, and Chris surprised Shawna with it for her Nov. 15 birthday.

“I had no idea he was doing that,” Shawna said.

The address of Shawna’s barn is 3502 Fruit Ave., just north of School No. 10 Road.