ImageThe Grey Barn on Peruville Road in Lansing was an antiques store for so long that people still wander in to shop.  But the building is anything but an antiques shop today.  Now it is a fully equipped home for people who need one for just a few days.  All you need to bring is groceries and clothes -- everything else is there.

"It is for cyclists, for people visiting friends and families, for families of people coming into hospice, for people coming to the hospital to visit family, for any kind of idea," says owner and proprietor Sarah Thomson.  "I'd like to have a yoga retreat or a business retreat.  I'd like to have meetings here.  If somebody can think of something, this might be a good place to do it."


Thomson, a nurse, and husband Keith, a Lansing Middle School  8th grade science teacher, bought the building a year and a half ago and converted it into a kind of Bed & Breakfast with the twist that you cook your own breakfast.  She got the idea from a friend who lucratively rents her own house for Cornell weekends like graduation and homecoming

"I love the building," Thomson says.  "I've always wanted to have some kind of community something.  I didn't want to get into food, because that is something I don't know anything about.  I didn't really want to have a B&B because I don't want to have to be here.  I didn't want to rent it out full time, because I like coming here.  I wanted to be able to pop in and use it, but it had to pay for itself."

The two downstairs bedrooms

When they bought the Grey Barn the structure was there, but there was no plumbing.  All that and a well, and septic system had to be installed.  She put in two bathrooms and the kitchen.  The former retail space n the ground floor is now an expansive living area including two living room settings, a dining room and kitchen all in one unbroken space.  The workshop space in the back has been converted into two bedrooms, a hall, bathroom, and a laundry room.  Upstairs is a more open space with a full bed and a single bed.

"It's still evolving.  I figured if I would build it, they would come," she says.


Some people are so used to the antique store being there that they walk right in.  "There I was in the kitchen and a mom and daughter just walked right in and started looking around," Thomson says.  "I said, 'Can I help you?' and they said, 'Oh no thanks.'  I thought, how else can I put this?  But they were just as interested in it being a B&B.  So that was kind of fun."

She has been putting out feelers to get the word out in different ways, to build up word of mouth.  So far she says that about 95% of her business comes from her entry on Craig's List on the Internet.  She is hosting an open house on May 27th from 4pm to 7pm to show people what she has done with the place.

Sarah Thomson

Thomson's  first real season starts this Spring, and she is looking forward to all kinds of events.  The venue is perfect for reunions -- school or family.  "I had a reunion group over Thanksgiving last year," she says.  "I think they came from four different states -- aunts, uncles, kids.  Some people stayed elsewhere, but they came here for the big Thanksgiving dinner, because there is room to do that."

Depending on the season and length of stay rates vary between $200 and $500.  Thomson prefers two or three day stays, saying she would rather have different guests staying for shorter periods than someone renting for months on end.

"I love the landscaping," she says.  "I love the doing.  I loved the construction and the putting it together.  I also love it when people call and I love hooking up the right person with the right house.  Pretty much all of it is fun.  Open the door and here you are.  I want to make it just right for people when they come."