Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Hartsfield.
Barbara, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have worked as a psychiatric nurse for the past forty-five years. Twenty-seven years ago, I was interested in the pregnant, mentally ill patient. I decided to write a nursing article on this high-risk population. To get into the mood to write this article, I decided to buy a small chair and a baby doll to help with my focus. While looking for this chair, I found a large selection of very interesting chairs.
After the article was published, (Hartsfield, B. 1991, Infant/Toddler Mental Health: A Growing Concern. Journal of Child and Adolescent and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 4(3), p. 116-118), I started collecting miniature chairs as a hobby.
In 2008, the growing collection established a Guinness World Record for the largest collection of miniature chairs, (3,000.) The chairs are not doll furniture, but functional chair designed as lamps, cookie jars, teapots, salt/pepper shakers, clocks and much more. There is a chair design category for each letter of the alphabet.
The collection was obtained from shopping in antique stores, E-bay, catalogs, retail home decor stores, travel, and gifts.
A week-end museum was opened in 2009 to share the collection with others. The museum has been featured in local, national, and international publications.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My biggest struggle has been brand image with the words miniatures and chairs. Many think it is a collection of miniature doll house furniture and others think it is a collection of full size household furniture.
I have been surprised with the feedback from online exposure, especially with several international publications. I had a customer from Brazil bring me two small chairs during her Atlanta visit.
It’s great to have visitors who have prior knowledge of what the collection is about. The expression I hear over and over is WOW!!!
Another challenge is the $5.00 admission with the walking/street traffic. The museum is located on Main Street in Stone Mountain Village. No admission is required for the other retail shops. I do have a gift shop for customers to visit at no charge.
Collectible & Antique Chair Gallery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Collectible & Antique Chair Gallery is a unique one of a kind museum. It displays a Guinness World Record miniature chair collection within three exhibits rooms and gift shop. The bath room has a “chair garden” displayed within a claw foot tub. Other chairs are displayed with colorful background themes, providing mini-museums with each exhibit. There is a display for all the major holidays.
Other special exhibits include a curio with over 100 chair salt/pepper shakers; 7 feet Christmas tree with over 100 chair ornaments; a jungle exhibit with twig chairs and animals; a large collection of various chair designs “inside bottles.” A commode exhibit, (best seat in the house) with clocks, ash trays, lighters, dispensers and more.
The museum building is a renovated historic house constructed in 1850. The Stone Mountain Village location is listed in the National Registry of places to visit.
Visiting the museum is a triple treat, historic collection, historic building, historic village.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I have been successful with opening this business while still working semi-retired as a psychiatric nurse.
I had a vision and followed every lead. My family, friends, and co-workers got excited with my vision over the years. They kept me excited and motivated.
The success with this business was easy because I had fun with the journey. A hobby resulted in setting a world record and opening a museum.
- Museum admission: Adults $5.00 Children $2.00 (ages 5 – 12)
- Address: 994 Main Street, ( Stone Mountain Village)
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083
- Website: www.museumofminiaturechairs.com
- Phone: 770-498-8816
- Email: email@example.com
Image Credit for Barbara’s photo under headline: Carolyn Richardson