Barby Harms, Owner, Mermaid’s Cottage

SHARE WITH US THE HIS TORY OF MERMAID’S COTTAGE!
Maybe in another life I was a Mermaid! I ha ve always loved the beach. I always have a shell in m y pocket. My creativity and my quest to save the earth founded “The Mermaid’s Cottage”. Seven years ago, after a career change and seeing wha t I could do with discarded stuff, I rented a small room in a shop in Lothian, Maryland. Two years later I moved to a bigger location, Gypsy Faire, selling my custom-made farmhouse tables, benches, islands, repurposed furniture and home goods. T hen an even bigger explosion, Mermaid’s Cottage at The Shops at Ogdens Commons, where I could offer other vendors the same opportunity I had. It ’s called destination shopping; being open one weekend a month and ha ving the rest of the month t o search, find, salvage, build, create, paint and offer for sale at the next opening.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF (OWNER, BARBY HARMS): Longtime resident of Calvert County with a passion for “Saving the Earth”. In high school, my friend Patty Stennitt and I started Earth Day in Calvert County in 1971. I have always loved to create. I got a lot from both my parents; my mom was very creative and my dad taught me how to use the tools. I have been known to climb into a dumpster or stop on the side of the road for a piece of furniture that still had life in it. When I look at a piece of furniture I see the craftsmanship, I think of the memories it holds, and I look for what I can do to breath new life in it.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN MERMAID’S COTTAGE
Opportunity! I kept driving by the old Ogden’s store and seeing the “For Sale” sign. I mentioned buying it to Jeff, my partner, and of course he said “No it’s too old, you buy it!” – so I did! I love the old building; it’s unlevel floors, quirky corners, and real bead board walls. I love the fact that for over 100 years people have come and gathered on the front porch. I knew I could put life back into to her rundown appearance.

WHAT IS Y OUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT O WNING A LOCAL BUSINESS?
The community and getting to know our customers! We look forward to seeing everyone from month to month and hearing their stories of what they have created or where they have placed pieces they have purchased from us. I love the questions they bring in or the help they need to complete a project.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD LOVE THE COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS?
It’s ever changing! What you see one month, most likely won’t be there next month. Each piece we save is handpicked, and a lot of love and thought goes into it. We can create just about anything. We keep a running list for pieces customers are looking for so when we are out searching, we can look for them. My daughter, Julie, holds paint classes every month and we sell Dixie Belle Paint products.

WHAT IS Y OUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT THUS FAR?
The bond that Mermaid’s Cottage has created with my family. I have two creative sisters (Chris and Peggy), a brother (John), and two fantastic daughters (Julie and Laurie) – they all help out in the shop, along with my partner (Jeff) who helps create some of my visions! 

WHAT”S NEXT
Who knows!! I am always dreaming! always expanding! I want to continue to provide one of a kind items at affordable prices. I was given a camper trailer that I gutted and refinished for our camp salvage, where we sell salvage pieces. Also, we recently replaced an old tobacco barn that was on the property (and yes I saved all the barnwood and tin!) and it will soon be ready to host weddings, parties, etc.

For more information, visit The Mermaid’s Cottage on Facebook.