By ANGYE MORRISON
At Anderson's Country Store, they know how to take something that's ready for the trash heap and make it into something that brings joy and happiness.
About nine years ago, Liz Marsh came to work at Anderson's, taking care of the marketing and social media. She noticed that the store had large hay bales that were ruined because of weather, and therefore weren't good feed quality, and she decided they could be put to use in another way.
Marsh had seen hay bale art in other places, along the sides of the road and on farms. Hay bale art has been around for years, and gives farmers a creative outlet and a way to not only use up hay that can't be used as feed, but also attract visitors to their farms.
So Marsh took a bale at the store and created the store's first "critter" — a Santa Claus. Her creations since have included elves, pumpkins, scarecrows, hearts, snowmen, reindeer and, of course, chicks.
Marsh says her inspiration comes from things she sees online or around her. The critters are used to draw attention to something going on at the store, and are created and displayed seasonally.
"We usually start with something like a pumpkin, then a Christmas thing, and then a chick thing in the spring," she said.
To build the creatures, Marsh says they first paint the bale, and then she adds the facial features. They often add something sticking off of the character, like cardboard hats, or a beak created from a tomato cage. Marsh says they enjoy getting creative with the critters, and it's often trial and error as to what will work.
Although there usually isn't a character on display in the summer, Marsh says they may create one this year, since they have gotten such great response from the current critter, a chick complete with pool noodle feet and a face mask.
The face mask came about when a friend told Marsh she'd seen something similar on social media. Marsh said she thought it was cute, and added it to the store's chick, already on display.
An art major who attended Georgia Southern, Marsh is the event planner for Anderson's, coordinating events like Farm Day and Chick Day. She also does the decorating for the store, and is currently working toward a women's boutique that will be opening soon. She enjoys creating the critters almost as much as seeing the enjoyment they bring.
"Hopefully, it just puts a smile on their faces as they drive by. I think I have in mind, (it's) more (for) kids, and it might make them happy, and therefore brighten everybody's day," she said.
Like most local businesses, Marsh says Anderson's has been doing their best to provide for their customers in the wake of the current pandemic.
"We're hanging in there," she said. "We're planning to reopen the store on May 1."
They have provided for their customers, while their store is closed during the pandemic, by utilizing their website, drive-thru service and delivery.
"We appreciate everybody supporting us in this time, and we encourage everybody to shop local," Marsh added.