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Newman grads practice the three R's: reclaim, repurpose, reinvent

WALNUT – For some people, an old barn is nothing more than an eyesore.

But for Green River Barn Salvage owners Austin Ryan and Austin Sensenig, an old barn is a new opportunity to make some money.

The two 2010 Newman High School graduates, both 24 and longtime friends, use wood from old corn cribs and barns to make tables, cabinets and other furniture.

“Most of the time, we will go in a gutted building and take the pieces that we want,” Ryan said. “That is a way to save something before it’s destroyed.”

Green River Barn Salvage, in operation since May 2015, is housed in a old shop on a farm where Sensenig lives, just outside of Walnut.

“We are always in contact with anyone who has an excavator or a backhoe,” said Ryan, who lives in Rock Falls. “We can make dinner tables, benches, bookshelves, bird feeders, bird houses, everything.”

The two also sell antiques, such as old bottles, lanterns, signs, tools and lawn care equipment.

“We get the antiques from everywhere, and we are in a lot of auctions,” Ryan said. “When people destroy buildings, we will go in and pay for their antiques.”

Neither has any real training.

“It’s self-taught, and a lot of trial and error,” Ryan said with a laugh. “There seemed to be a market for this, so we did research and we started doing it in our spare time. It’s honest work and we like doing it.”

The business has morphed into something bigger than they imagined, Sensenig said.

“We were just going to sell barn wood at first, but we couldn’t sell it,” Sensenig said. “So, we started making furniture and that took off, and then, antiques came into play.”

Sensenig said Green River Barn Salvage is his main job. In addition to the business, Ryan also runs a corn and soybean farm in Harmon with his father, John. Sensenig helps with Ryan’s farm on occasion.

Their inventory is for sale the second Saturday of every month or by appointment, which is about all their time permits for now.

“We put in a lot of hours,” Ryan said. “We are always somewhere doing something.”

Green River Barn Salvage products can also be found at The Crafter’s Mill, a handmade, homemade gifts and home decor store, 1305 First Ave., Rock Falls.


Green River Barn Salvage is open for sales from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the second Saturday of the month at 15963 2600 North Ave. in Walnut. (This coming Saturday is a sale day.)

Call 815-716-0276 or find it on Facebook if you have a wooden structure that needs to come down, to custom-order a piece of rustic furniture, or for more information.

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