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Unique dollar store experience

Inside the Dollar Barn on North Main Street in Nicholasville is a hodgepodge of items piled into bins and stocked on shelves and tables for customers to rummage through. 

Debbie Bowman said because of the store’s layout and the continuing variety of what items are stocked, Dollar Barn isn’t the place to come if a customer is looking for something specific. Instead, Bowman said she believes the appeal of shopping there is that customers never know what they might find as they sort through the bins for their deals. 

“I think that’s why people keep coming back — because they don’t know what’s going to be there next,” Bowman said. 

Bowman works in the warehouse at 120 Wilson Court, where items sold at Dollar Barn and through the online auction company Bluegrass Bids are kept.

Dollar Barn’s Nicholasville location is at 509 N. Main Street, in the same building as the Jessamine Journal, and opened last month. There is also a Dollar Barn in Lexington.

Evan Jacobs, owner of Bluegrass Bids and Dollar Barn, said Dollar Barn sells items for electronics, like phone cases and adapters. The store also sells items such as food, items for babies, clothing, plumbing supplies like PVC pipes and other items. 

“Typically, our items are more unique and of a higher retail price than a typical dollar store,” Jacobs said. 

Jacobs said Bluegrass Bids buys a lot of liquidation, which gets shipped to the warehouse. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Bluegrass Bids conducts auctions on their website. Auctioned items can include home improvement items, patio sets, portable air conditioners, tools, dolls and other items. 

After the auctions, Jacobs said people come and pick up the items they won from the warehouse on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Any items they don’t have room for in the warehouse, or they don’t sell during their auctions or come in certain types of pallets, go to their Dollar Barn locations, Jacobs said. 

Dollar Barn is often bustling during its operating hours, which are Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jacobs said the Nicholasville location has stayed busy since its opening day.

“We usually have a line at the door on Wednesdays, the first day we open every week,” Jacobs said. 

On July 18, Bowman was covering someone’s shift at the Nicholasville Dollar Barn. She was working the register for the first time, as she usually works in the warehouse.

Her friends, Barbie Houchin and Jennifer McMullen, had stopped by to see her, and they chatted with her at the register while they kept a large pile of items behind the checkout counter that they — and Bowman — had bought at the store. Bowman said she enjoys the shop. 

“I get in there and dig with everybody,” Bowman said.

Items at Dollar Barn are $1.50 each. There are also a few tables with $5 items, as well as “Clucky Specials” throughout the store, which are the shop’s deals. “Clucky Specials” include deals like 10-packs of a given item for $1.50, two for $1 deals and packs of multiple bags of snacks for $1.50. 

Bowman said Jacobs’s auction business has done well and that Jacobs feels like Dollar Barn is a way to help people save money.

“A lot of the customers — even people from our auction — a lot of them come here, and they’re always praising him for bringing such a good business to town to save money,” Bowman said. “I love my job. Not many people can say that, and I can honestly say I love getting up in the morning to go to work.”

A customer, Sherry Barnes, who as of July 18 had been to Dollar Barn three times, said the personality of the people who work at the store is what makes it unique.

She said someone usually speaks to customers when they come in and when they’re waiting in line, and Barnes has found the employees more personable than people she’s encountered at other dollar stores.

“It’s what made me come back,” Barnes said. 

One customer there on July 18, Emma Lawrence, lives in Kenton County in Morning View. She was in Jessamine County pet sitting her daughter’s puppy while her daughter was on vacation.

On her first visit to Dollar Barn, she said an employee had locked up the register to help an elderly woman who wasn’t feeling well carry her bags. Lawrence returned to the store for a second visit the next day, July 18.

“I’m a crafter, so it was like heaven,” Lawrence said with a laugh about her first impressions of the store.

She said she was able to find things to use for crafts at the store and came back later for a second visit because she remembered seeing things she wanted to buy. 

“And I was right,” she said. 

She bought two bags of items on her first day and one bag on July 18. Dollar Barn, Lawrence said, is unique from places in her county.

“We don’t have anything like this,” she said.  

Olivia Mohr is an intern at The Jessamine Journal. Contact her at olivia.mohr@centralkynews.com.