'Let's do it': Couple's retail dreams come true with Red Hive Market in Batavia

  • Tom Freeman and his wife, Bridget Johnson, said "let's do it" when they saw an open storefront at 6 W. Wilson St. in downtown Batavia. The result: Red Hive Market, a home decor artisan gallery that opened on Nov. 30.

    Tom Freeman and his wife, Bridget Johnson, said "let's do it" when they saw an open storefront at 6 W. Wilson St. in downtown Batavia. The result: Red Hive Market, a home decor artisan gallery that opened on Nov. 30. Courtesy of Dave Heun

 
 
Posted1/5/2020 7:29 AM

Tom Freeman makes it sound like a bit of an epiphany when saying he and his wife, Bridget Johnson, walked out of Briana's Pancake House in Batavia one morning last fall to see that a storefront at 6 W. Wilson was open to rent.

"We said to ourselves, no more what-ifs, let's just do it," he recalled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Just do it" meant the Batavia couple was going to work on a vision they had to open a home decor artisan gallery downtown.

The result was Red Hive Market, which opened in late November and has quickly become a popular spot for shoppers. It was especially busy during the holiday season.

But it took a lot more than just walking out of a breakfast joint to get Red Hive Market humming.

"I was in retail in Geneva for many years, so I saw what worked and what didn't," Bridget said. "It was a great experience, but we wanted to open our own place."

Red Hive Market in Batavia features works for sale from 14 artisans.
Red Hive Market in Batavia features works for sale from 14 artisans. - Courtesy of Dave Heun

After establishing the concept of renting space to 14 artisans in the 1,700-square foot location that previously housed Sophistication dress store for more than 20 years, Bridget was excited about being able to open Dec. 2.

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But then-interim Batavia Main Street director Jamie Saam contacted her and said she needed to open the store by Saturday, Nov. 30, which was designated nationally as "Shop Small Saturday."

"Jamie said to just open, and that I wouldn't need any special deals or anything, and the people would just show up to support the day ... and did they ever," Bridget said.

And the store has been attracting business nonstop ever since.

"It's a dream come true," said Tom, a firefighter by trade who admits he does the heavy lifting with hammer and tools at the store, while Bridget carries out the critical task of being the creative genius behind the store's presentations and overall spirit.

"It was what we had hoped for and much more," they both said.

Everything in the store is made by hand, giving it the feel of a vintage home decor location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's a blending of talent of the artisans here," Tom said. "There are no walls, so it all blends together. It is like having 14 kids with different and unique artistic talents in your family."

Red Hive Market is a home decor artisan gallery that opened on Nov. 30.
Red Hive Market is a home decor artisan gallery that opened on Nov. 30. - Courtesy of Dave Heun

It also helps that the artisans displaying their wares at Red Hive Market "have a knowledge of social media that is impeccable," Bridget said.

"One of them told me she saw the Red Hive Market on Facebook, but she wondered why it wasn't on Instagram," Bridget added. "She taught me a very important lesson, because I was on Instagram by that night."

Now it's just a matter of settling into their downtown location and continuing the creative vision that already makes the store stand out as a new experience for those shopping in Batavia.

"It's great to be in historic downtown Batavia because there is nothing like it," Tom said. "We have great exposure to those walking or driving through town."

About the teardowns:

They stand out quite prominently in the Tri-Cities and in other cities and villages in the region.

When you tear down an old house and replace it with a new one, sometimes one twice as large, it signals a definite change to the landscape.

We see the finished products, but rarely have a full view of what might have gone on behind the scenes as city officials, historic committees and builders engage in numerous processes to make this sort of thing happen.

Thornapple Questers and the St. Charles Public Library want to help more people understand the process through a presentation titled "Taming the Teardown Trend" to be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, in the Carnegie Room at the St. Charles Library.

Jean Follett, one of the country's leading experts on the teardown topic, will provide information to explain the positions of proponents and detractors.

Her most recent work has been for historic building surveys for two major projects in Chicago and also as a leading strategic planner for Landmarks Illinois.

Those interested in attending the session should register by calling the library at (630) 584-0076, ext. 1.

Recycle those clothes:

Donating clothes and shoes to the Salvation Army or Goodwill is always a good idea.

But sometimes, they are in a condition in which you aren't quite sure what to do with them. Too often, those sorts of things end up in the trash.

Kane County's electronic recycler eWorks is partnering with RewearAble to collect clothing and textiles in any condition. That means clothes, shoes, bedding, towels, toys, accessories and purses can be brought to the recycling location at 517 E. Fabyan Parkway in Batavia from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

More information is available by contacting recycling coordinator Jennifer Jarland at (630) 208-3841.

Anything that can't be reused will be turned into recycling materials for packaging and other purposes.

For the pets:

A holiday greeting email from Anderson Animal Shelter provided information that just made you feel good beyond the typical holiday spirit.

The greeting included a note to say that an adoption of a dog named Wyatt at the organization's North Aurora site marked the 4,000 adoption of 2019.

Dining out fantasy:

Just a reminder that in my next column on Friday, I'll share ideas that readers had regarding their choices of restaurants -- if they were to dine out for all three meals for a day or two.

I pitched that idea a few weeks ago and shared my choices, basically on the premise that I have known a few people who actually do eat out for every meal somewhat regularly.

My pocketbook and stomach would not handle such a regimen, but it is fun to consider such a culinary fantasy.

If interested, you still have a couple of days to share your ideas by sending a note to the email address below.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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