It’s hard to get too far south on US Highway 431 without noticing the vast array of ornamental concrete available at Bluegrass Ornamental Concrete and Once in a Lifetime Antiques. From stepping stones to large scale animals and military figures, Melinda and Truman Burden seem to have every concrete creature a person could wish for.
The couple, now both retired, never anticipated owning the shop. However, they found themselves driving by the business often, and they liked what they saw.
“My sister lived close by and she knew I liked antiques and stuff you sit around,” Melinda said. “She said, ‘Why don’t you buy it?’ and, well, we just did.”
Since taking ownership nearly four years ago, the Burdens have drastically rearranged the order of the inventory.
“It wasn’t in any particular order (before), so that was the first downfall,” Melinda said, adding that they discarded damaged items.
Melinda said they have sold over 77,000 pounds of concrete and much of their client base is return customers. Though the Burdens do advertise and sell items through Facebook and Marketplace, most of their business is in person and based on referral.
The pieces are sourced out of Cave City, where they contract with an artisan who makes the pieces from molds.
“If we don’t have what you want, we can probably get it,” says Burden.
The oddest request the couple has gotten was from a man who came in and wanted what could best be described as “a bowl tilted to the side to look like a wave.”
Their best sellers are small frogs, turtles, and flag holders that are a liberty bell/eagle combo.
Memorial gifts such as stepping stones and benches are other popular items.
In addition to the concrete items, Burden sells antiques such as glassware, collectible jars, and a few furniture pieces.
One of most unique aspects of the business is that the Burdens have a “faith box.”
“People can come and take products when we aren’t open and leave the money in it,” Burden says. The box is locked and chained down, but the couple hasn’t had any trouble with it so far, she said.
Customers who purchase $100 worth of product, receive a complimentary $25 smaller item, or a percentage off of a larger piece.
Overall, the Burdens are enjoying their unexpected retirement venture.
“It’s been a good move for us,” Melinda said.