Brothers-in-law Ben Forstie and Josh Makela did not intend to start a business and never considered opening a recycled home furnishing store. But as fate would have it, the brothers opened The Barn Bros a year ago.
On a summer day in 2015, Forstie came across what he considered to be a great deal on a camp trailer and, on a whim, purchased the trailer. He did not need a trailer, but thought it was just too good to pass up. The plan was to quickly resell the trailer and turn a profit. Within hours of placing an ad, a man called wanting to purchase the trailer. During the conversation, Forstie learned the man and his wife had been through some very tough circumstances and were now living in their car. They were working to save every spare cent to accumulate enough money to find a very inexpensive place to live. The camp trailer was going to be their new home.
Touched by their story, Forstie offered to sell them the trailer at below market value and for less than he paid for it. The couple was beyond grateful and relieved to finally have a place to live.
“This interaction really made an impact on me,” Forstie said. “These folks were in desperate need of a place to live; they were working so hard to survive. I felt at that moment I was given the opportunity to help and make a real difference in the lives of others. It was the right thing to do for them and for me.”
Forstie told his brother-in-law, Makela, about the transaction. Over the course of conversation, the two formed an idea that would help those in need. They decided to embark on a business endeavor to purchase unwanted, good-quality items and resale them at low prices. Additionally, they wanted a business model that would allow them to give items and, often, funds to those in the community who were in great need.
Soon the pair began purchasing furniture, décor, tools and more.
“Buying from an estate sale or storage unit is a win-win-win for everyone,” said Forstie. “We eliminate the need for people to do a yard sale. We offer them a fair price, pay cash, bring our trucks and load up the items in one or two trips. This process saves the owners a great deal of time, effort and frustration. And, because we are buying numerous items at one time, we are able to offer high-quality merchandise at a low price to our customers. Some things we donate to other agencies or give a family in need a particular item, such as a dresser or bed. Everyone wins.”
From Barn to Store
For more than a year, the brothers operated out of their garages and barn. Social media allowed them to connect with sellers and buyers. Week nights were spent purchasing, loading and unloading. Weekends were consumed with a nonstop stream of people coming to the perpetual yard sale.
Within months, the array items outgrew the homebased surroundings. The business had grown to the point that the next move was to a retail location.
Just last month, The Barn Bros moved to its new location at 2710 N. Steves Blvd, Suite 118, in the strip mall on the corner of Route 66 and Steves Blvd. In an effort to keep costs down, the retail store is only open on Saturdays.
What’s in a Name?
Sitting around a campfire at a church camp, Forstie, Makela and their friends and families were brainstorming about the name and start-up needs of the business. The name FlagXchange seemed to be the best fit for the new business. However, as the weeks and months went on, everyone agreed the name lacked the emotion, substance and sense of community the team imagined.
Shortly thereafter, a potential customer referred to the business as “the barn guys” – the guys with the barn who buy really good stuff and sell it at really good prices and want to help out others.
“It was at the moment we realized what our name should be and that our vision was becoming a reality,” Makela said. “We wanted our name to reflect us personally, our business and mission. We were gaining a following in the community and people knew we were about more than buying and selling. Hence, the name The Barn Bros was born, and with it the excitement of being good community partners and helping to make life a little better for others.”
“For us, The Barn Bros is more than an opportunity to make money,” Forstie said. “It’s a chance to support our community and those who live here. It is a lot of fun and very rewarding to help meet the needs of others and we are very grateful for all the support we have received from everyone.” FBN
By Starla Collins, FBN
The Barn Bros
2710 N. Steves Blvd, #18
Flagstaff, Az 86004
Store hours: Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To sell items, call: 928-421-1095
Facebook & Website: TheBarnBros.com
Brother-in-laws Ben Forstie and Josh Makela are “the barn guys” who buy unwanted goods and sell them inexpensively or donate them to those in need.
Photo by Starla Collins