2008-10-30 / Local & State

Sheep Ridge Farm Gift Shop To Close Its Doors

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Sheep Ridge Farm Gift Shop owners Linda and Loy Garber Sheep Ridge Farm Gift Shop owners Linda and Loy Garber A shop that has been a staple in the community for providing unique and down-home gifts for almost 20 years is slated to close its doors at the end of the year.

Sheep Ridge Farm Gift Shop operated by Loy and Linda Garber had almost meager beginnings in 1990 when the couple's idea for gift-giving blossomed in the basement of their Peach Orchard Road, McConnellsburg, home sharing square footage with a practice area enjoyed by local baseball fans of all ages. Several years later and with help from builder Harold Batdorff, the business quickly grew into a new 20-by- 20 foot building on the family farm.

The growth would not cease there, according to the Garbers, as they were quickly pressed to construct a 12-by-12 addition as well as a connecting observation deck. The end result, which was originally intended to be a part-time endeavor, was a shop teeming with Boyds Bears, a homespun collection and other knickknacks designed to give any home a country feel.

Loy indicated the competition of "gift-giving" items has expanded in McConnellsburg Borough over the years and now even the area pharmacies and grocery store include small gifts for every occasion.

"It's hard for the small businessman," said Linda. "... I used to think I was a failure until I heard people commenting about how they would be back to see us the following year during special events."

As an example, Loy stated people who initially visited Sheep Ridge Farm as teenagers have been coming back as young married couples with their children. In addition, some families have established a yearly tradition of cooking s'mores and other goodies over an open fire on the farm during their annual outing.

"It's as if we made some type of intangible difference to these people," said Linda, whose retirement from the nursing industry in September and a near-death experience during a recent surgery also prompted her to re-evaluate her outlook on life.

"It (the shop closing) will free us up to do things together. That will be the nicest part," said the Garbers. "... We appreciated the business we did have as well as our loyal customer base and the friends we've made."

Linda indicated through the creation and sale of a historic Fulton County throw blanket and the wooden replicas of popular area buildings, she also feels she was able to keep history alive. Unfortunately, those knickknacks and other gift items will only be available for a short time as effective Friday, October 31, the Garbers have opted to sell their entire stock of merchandise for 40 percent off in hopes of closing up their shop by the end of 2008.

New business hours will be Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, with every $20 purchase customers will receive a chance to win either a "Hubba Bubba" Boyds Bear or a Mark Twain Noe print.

Even though the couple's "honeydo" lists for one another and their plans to travel are growing in anticipation of the shop's closing, the Garbers are giving serious thought to continuing hosting various activities at their farm such as baseball lessons, the always present sheep and maybe even a special lineup of events or just a rest stop for travelers during the Fulton Fall Folk Festival.

"The gift shop is closing but other activities at the farm will not cease," the Garbers concluded.

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