Lots of lemonade, a lack of hippos: Mike and family visit Almonte’s Tin Barn Market

Antiquing in Almonte can be fun for kids with a visit to the Tin Barn Market

Mike Reynolds (blog/Twitter) is an Ottawa born-and-raised husband and father to two beautiful girls. He’s obsessed with making sure his daughter says ‘daddy and mommy’ and not ‘mommy and daddy’ and with finding junk he thinks will one day be considered an antique. He also blogs about his admitted cluelessness when it comes to raising children.

I don’t think it’s a secret that parents are always on the lookout for things to do with their children. I likewise don’t think I’m opening Al Capone’s vault a la Geraldo Rivera when I suggest that parents also like to do things with their kids that they, as parents, will also enjoy.

Free lemonade greets guests

So as much fun as it is for a kid to play in a jungle gym filled with balls and rope walls, parents still harbour a little resentment as they force their way through plastic-mat-lined tunnels chasing their toddler.

We recently threw caution to the wind and decided to make a visit to Almonte, not more than 25 minutes outside of the city centre to visit the Tin Barn Market (on Facebook and on Twitter). While there is certainly no lack of other interesting things to do on a weekend day in Almonte, our focus was 100 per cent on visiting the Tin Barn Market.

Almonte on its own is a pretty cool place to check out with it’s abundance of bridges, hills, antique shops and nearly hidden food joints. The Tin Barn Market is no less cool with a facade that shouts “come inside of me and find antique stuff that you didn’t know you needed but that you actually do for sure need. And oh we have free lemonade!”

Being that we went near opening (10 am) on a Sunday morning, we had very good access to their summer pop-up shop. And while it isn’t the biggest shop going by square footage, the ladies at the Tin Barn Market pack the items in, hanging some from the ceiling, some on antique-crate-created shelves and some by stacking old items on top of other old items.

Leah takes over the artistic direction of the welcome chalkboard

While I could go on for some time about how great the wares were (if you’re interested in vintage items for your kitchen, dining room or backyard, this place is a must), what made the biggest impression on me was how friendly the owners were and how welcome they were to a 2.5-year-old girl who, for all they knew, could have been more damaging to their recently opened shop than the Tasmanian Devil.

“Daddy, chalkboard,” Leah said to me within seconds of entering the shop. And she was right. The chalkboards were being updated with the day’s deals. Leah, who had never met the owners before, went and sat down by the chalkboard writer and started critiquing their work, noting that there were not enough hippopotamuses on the chalkboard.

Having never been told that a billboard didn’t have enough hippopotamus, it was impossible to argue with her, and within 30 seconds, they had allowed Leah to redesign their board. She crossed out their letters, drew a hippopotamus and walked around the store pointing at everything.

Through it all, the owners encouraged her to explore, even offering up glasses of homemade lemonade.

While the hospitality was second to none, I must also report on the shopping. I went into our journey committed to buying at least one thing, but having no idea what that one things would be. We came away with four things, all of which are already prominently display at our house.

An old metal sugar container, an old mini croquet set, what I’m told is called a cake cloche and a pair of salvaged letter R’s for the girls’ room were the pieces that caught our eyes. And while normally I take great enjoyment out of the bartering side of antique hunting, the prices on each and every item we turned over surpassed my bargain price expectations.

Some of the wares at the Tin Barn Market in Almonte

But every shopping excursion we make needs to have a budget and even though Leah exceeded our behaviour expectations, we couldn’t buy her everything we wanted.

“Daddy, bring the chalkboard and lemonade in the car too,” she demanded after I had paid for our items and she began to understand that we were leaving sans chalk.

“No Leah, we’re going to let them use the chalkboard.”

“Then can we take home the lemonade? It’s free, just ask them.”

“I know it’s free but the glass container it’s in isn’t free, plus we need to leave some for other people.”

“Ask them to take it out of the container then and put it in a bag. Other people can drink water.”

“We’ll get you ice cream if you leave without the chalkboard.”

“Thank you Daddy.”

With our purchases safely tucked under our arms and far away from Leah’s grasp, we left the shop with promises to our children and ourselves that we’d return again. I can’t suggest strongly enough that if you’re a fan of vintage and a fan of conversation, or a fan of vintage conversation, the trip to the Tin Barn Market will be worth your while.

Oh, and they share their building with Baker Bob. And who doesn’t love fresh baking?

Sounds like a day trip worthy of any urban dweller! Check out more about things to see and visit in Almonte here.