On the outskirts of Grand Rapids is town best known as the salad bowl of Michigan. Houses are scattered amongst orchards, asparagus patches, onion fields, and fruit and vegetable farms that line the roads of Hudsonville, a rural community of some 7,000 residents that lies a short 20 minutes west of downtown Grand Rapids.
A quick hop onto I-196 West from downtown to the Chicago Drive exit (or, from the west, the exit for 32nd Ave.) will take you into town, past fields, greenhouses, grocery stores, barber shops, pet grooming salons, and coffee shops. Chicago Drive, so named for its eventual destination of a little town over in Illinois, is just one way to go to get to the Big Lake– that’s Lake Michigan, for the uninitiated among you. In bypassing highway traffic on I-196, you also experience West Michigan countryside at its finest and a few worthwhile, however lesser-known, towns along the way, plus some great retail finds.
Painted Farmgirl, located at 3704 Chicago, is one such gem. Not your average antique mall (such a term does not suffice for this upscale market), the Farmgirl is a a veritable real-life Etsy shop, home to over 50 vendors and 10,000 square feet of crafty, artistic, and downright unique offerings, and is quickly becoming a hot spot to find one-of-a-kind home décor and cottage retreat conversation pieces.
Jana Lynema started Painted Farmgirl in 2011 and moved it into its current location in 2013.
“I worked as a hairstylist for 20 years and would paint furniture and other things to sell at my salon,” said Lynema. “It was a mini-boutique for a while and then I decided to take the next step.”
The store offers ample parking and plenty of space, both outdoor and indoor, for antique furniture and knick-knacks.
“Our motto is – ‘where the American Countryside meets the French market,’” said Lynema. With a warm atmosphere, friendly staff, and floor-to-ceiling, wall to wall finds, Painted Farmgirl is certainly onto something, and noticeably avoids the musty smell and feel of the stereotypical antique mall.
Vendors are often on hand to talk about their pieces.
Jim Scanlon of Scans Salvage has been a vendor at Painted Farmgirl for nearly a year.
“There’s a good variety of work here, and not that neck-and-neck competition with the other vendors,” he explained. “We work together and help one another clean up and refurbish our finds.”
Sarah Niemann’s expertise is in custom vinyl and printed signage with her sin&co booth.
“I’ve been here since the start, and we see a lot of repeat customers and new customers,” she said. “The owner [Jana Lynema] is so helpful and encouraging – if we have an idea she mentors us and gives us a chance to try to sell our work here.”
Desk chairs, old doors and windows, coffee & dining room tables, hutches, wall décor, scarves, and jewelry are just some of the items to be found at Painted Farmgirl, no matter whether you’re in the market for midcentury modern or an upcycled antique farmhouse piece. With a range of price points for objects large and small, everyone is sure to find something, and many vendors are willing to do custom work as well. If you see something you want– a sign, table, desk, or what have you- but you want a different color, a different saying, or a different look, all you have to do is ask, and the vendors will do their best to make your one-of-a-kind piece.
Each month a vendor is featured by the shop and sales accompany the honor, and Painted Farmgirl also periodically hosts workshops where attendees can learn an art or craft.
“This is everything I dreamed it would be and more,” said Lynema. “We are a conglomerate of inspiration and we feed off of one another’s creativity – that makes everything we sell at Painted Farmgirl that much more special.”