120 WEST CALIFORNIA STREET
Farmhouse Treasures, at 120 West California, specializes in reminders of a more relaxed era. Gift items cover every surface: chalkboards and sloganed tin signs decorate the walls; seasonally themed décor, and anything you need to make your home comfy, draw your eye; aprons and dishtowels spill across upcycled vintage cabinets—which also are for sale.
“Charming” likely is the first word that comes to mind while taking in the store’s signature “Georgie Girl” jewelry (named for proprietor Kelly Cason’s mother). It’s in a section of the store playfully dubbed “Blingville.” Elsewhere, shoppers discover retro splatter-patterned enamelware plates, bowls, and pots, specialized hardware (like old-fashioned drawer pulls), and nontoxic Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint made to give today’s furniture the look of yesterday.
“Fudge!” likely is the second word. Kelly makes it fresh every day in her commercial kitchen. She and longtime sidekick Susan Britton, who creates the fabulous displays, hand out delicious samples, in numerous flavors, to every visitor. The recipe originated with the previous proprietor. Recalls Kelly: “She told me, ‘You should make the fudge. It does great!’ And I thought, ‘Sure. I’ll try it.’ Eighteen years later, I’m still making fudge!”
“Farmhouse Treasures is a place where everyone—our local friends and our visiting travelers—can afford to shop. Just grab a quick gift and a card. And, of course,” Kelly grins, “there’s the fudge.”
She features other edible items on her shelves: boxes of “instant cheesecake;” shortbread cookies; grain-free “granola bites;” and a line of salad dressings labeled “Mrs. Beekman’s Kitchen” (named in honor of Jacksonville’s historic Beekman family).
And then there’s the inedible food. The shockingly realistic facsimiles sit all over the store: a bowl of candy; a cup of coffee (spilled or unspilled); cereal with milk; pancakes with syrup; lavishly decorated cakes. Surprisingly, the fake food ranks among Kelly’s most popular items. “Customers regularly come in and buy three or four at a time!” she says.
When Kelly started in 1999, she was thinking of her then-fifteen-year-old daughter Shayna. “She wanted a job, so I thought I’d open a store and give her the opportunity to develop some business skills. I figured we’d do it together for a few years, and then she’d take over.” Before long, nine-year-old daughter Chelsea joined the enterprise, and started walking to the store after school. Today, both girls have moved on to their own careers.
“And I’m still here,” says Kelly, flashing a broad smile that says there’s no place she’d rather be.