The sign on the door at Farm Girl Finds, 221 W. Mill Street, Waterloo, says that hours of the store are “by chance or appointment.”
That is because Lisa Maurer, the owner of the business, is often visiting with a customer to design the perfect custom home furniture piece.
Maurer revamps older traditional items such as dressers, armoires, hutches, tables and chairs and turns them in to unique home accents.
“I would say I specialize in ‘farmhouse style,’” Maurer explained, adding that the “old stuff is high quality” as another reason she chooses to rehab second-hand finds.
She also re-purposes miscellanea into decor. For instance, she recently converted a plain wood slab into a succulent planter and gave a rustic look to a vintage toy wagon.
Maurer said her main work involves consulting and design services.
In her work she has found “most people don’t know the possibilities” that exist for home decorating.
“I like to give ideas,” she said.
Maurer’s journey to her brick-and-mortar location began when her daughter needed furniture for her college dorm. Maurer found that she enjoyed rehabbing older furniture and then began working directly with customers or communicating through Facebook.
When business began picking up, Maurer offered her services through two Waterloo businesses. She operated from Savannah’s Southern Charm for two years then used space at Bloomin’ Diehl’s Floral & Gifts for six months before deciding she needed her own space.
“When I started to turn down more work than I accepted, I knew it was time to expand,” she said.
Maurer is no stranger to small business, however. When she lived in Wisconsin, she was an execuctive for a “Main Street community” program, a state-facilitated organization similar to the Illinois Historic Main Street program or a local chamber of commerce.
When the Freeburg native returned to the area, it was a natural progression to continue in the small business arena she is passionate about. After years of working from home and at other existing shops, she opened her own location on Mill Street in mid-August.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask, ‘why open during a pandemic?’” Maurer said, adding “I’ve had a lot more business than I thought I would.”
She speculated that during the COVID-19 restrictions have allowed more people to focus on their homes. As evidence, she pointed to the Dixie Belle company’s sales quadrupling during the pandemic. Dixie Belle produces a mineral chalk paint that Maurer uses regularly and sells in her store.
Even though she has a steady stream of customers, Maurer has stayed true to her community-minded ethic, using her business as a way to give back to various area organizations.
For instance, on Nov. 11 she hosted a “Patina Paint Party” at The Back Door Thrift Store. The DIY painting instruction event will raised for Monroe County House of Neighborly Service.
Maurer said her favorite piece of work was a vanity and mirror donated to Camp Wartburg for their annual dinner and auction.
For pictures of Maurer’s farmhouse style furniture, available quilts or more information about the business or Dixie Belle paints, visit Farm Girl Finds on Facebook or call 636-328-1663. If you visit the store on Mill Street, remember that she is there “by chance or appointment.”