Farmer Brown’s to close after 30 years |

Farmer Brown’s to close after 30 years

Farmer Brown’s Costumes, Rough & Ready Highway, is closing there doors after many years of providing costumes for the community.
John Hart/ | The Union

For more than 30 years, Bonnie McNeely’s Farmer Brown’s costume shop has helped thousands of customers find the perfect outfit in a collection of more than 2,000 garbs and accessories. McNeely, 80, though, says the store will be closing, and she is looking to sell the bulk of her costumes this weekend, during a liquidation sale.

“It’s a good thing,” McNeely said. “I sold the store, and that means I have to get rid of my costumes. But I’m not taking off very much, they’re quality so they’re going to go for a good price. There may be some things I’ll be willing to bargain on, but most are going to be a good price, not too cheap.”

Located along Rough and Ready Highway, McNeely’s shop sits adjacent to Farmer Brown’s Trading Post, which she said her and her husband Donald bought in 1981. McNeely said the store was pretty down in the dumps, so as a former costume director for Sweet Adelines International, an organization of women barbershop harmony singers, McNeely thought bringing her costumes into the store would help.

“I had an awful lot of costumes at the house, so I asked my husband, ‘Is it alright with you if I bring some of them down to the store and rent them?’ and he said, ‘Sounds good to me.’”

McNeely took an old shed next to the main store and converted it into a bigger room for her costume shop. McNeely’s sister would often help her make new costumes for the shop and the store quickly became popular.

“We just thought it would be a good idea, and started making things from, gorgeous 1800s dresses to some really nice King Henry the Eighth costumes,” McNeely said. “We had more good comments, and it just made you feel so good that everybody enjoyed being a very, very good-looking, different person. You could be a fantastic king, or you could be a beautiful princess and they were such good quality that people really enjoyed them, and that made me feel good, too.”

When McNeely’s husband died three years ago at the age of 81, the shop was passed on to her grandson Toby. McNeely said they were married for 60 years.

“It affected me greatly,” McNeely said. “The man was the closest thing to what God expected a man to be like, that ever was, and I lost my heart. So it didn’t help any.”

After McNeely’s sister moved to Reno, her daughter, Linda Cox, who had just lost her husband as well, moved to Nevada County from Arizona where she owned her own costume shop. She brought her costumes and added them to her mother’s shop.

According to McNeely, around three months ago someone walked into her shop and asked her if she wanted to sell the store.

“I said yeah, I guess. So I did,” McNeely said. “But the new buyers know how important my shop is to me, and they told me they’d give me as much time as I needed. There’s so many things that have to be sold so I really don’t know when we will close.”

Cox, 62, said that her mother deserves to retire and leave the store to someone else, saying “It’s the best thing right now for everybody concerned. She needs to get back into life and do more things and have more fun. We both do.”

McNeely said she looks forward to doing the many things she has put off over the years due to being so busy running the shop, but after more than 30 years, she will definitely miss it.

“I will miss the people very, very much. I also will miss the fact that I won’t be trying to create a new costume every so often,” McNeely said. “The people are so fantastic when they come in, and it makes me so happy that it makes them happy. So I’ll miss that part a lot.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User