VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – This hidden gem is in Pierson, Florida, about an hour north of Orlando, but it’s worth the drive to check out the hundreds of thousands of unique outdoor art pieces.
“People come here, they cannot understand what is happening, they can’t figure out what we do,” Barberville Yard Art Emporium owner Carlos Pendola said.
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You may have driven by the roadside attraction in Volusia County called the Barberville Yard Art Emporium. From the outside you can’t help but notice the oversized animal statues, including a 20-foot giraffe, dinosaur and bear.
If you pull over and head inside, you may have to brace yourself. It’s 3 acres of colorful, whimsical STUFF everywhere you turn (that’s honestly the best way we can put it into words).
“It was overwhelming when I first came here. It’s just a curiosity shop,” said Tom Ilgenfritz, a customer at the Barberville Emporium.
“That’s the whole point of making the drive. Finding something you’ll never see anywhere else,” Sally Wolfe said.
Barberville Emporium is best known for its unique outdoor art.
“You can spend a few lives without having any of these items. You might not need ‘em, but you want ‘em,” Pendola said.
Everything from statues to lamp posts to planters to fountains, and it’s all one-of-a-kind.
“More than 99% of what we carry is handmade and hand painted,” Pendola said.
Most of the pieces are made of recycled caste aluminum.
The emporium also has rustic teak wood furniture as well as items made from Talavera ceramic from Mexico, iron and steel.
Pendola has owned the business for about 11 years, but the history of the Emporium spans far beyond that. In 1882, Barberville was founded by James Barber with plans of creating a railroad stop attraction. The roadside shop sits at the corner of State Road 40 and Highway 17 in Volusia County and brings new visitors as well as regular customers from as far as Alaska.
“This is my third time here. I usually take something back with me to put some color in our dark winters we have up there,” said Jack Koegle, who is from Alaska.
“I usually come by here once in awhile. I’m always curious to what kinds of things they have here,” Ilgenfritz said.
With hundreds of thousands of items, it’s hard not to leave with something, even for the owner.
“How much of this stuff do I have at my house? Lots. I don’t even count them,” Pendola said. “It makes me so happy. Every single day of my life is a different day where I enjoy creating something.”
The Barberville Emporium is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and you’ll want to allow plenty of time. Because there is so much to look at, you can literally spend a day there.