Travelers along Missouri Highway 13 knew they were entering the city limits of Springfield when they passed longtime business Carpet Barn and its mascot, a nearly eight-foot-tall, grinning, hat-wearing horse head, mounted on the front of the barn-style building.
Such was the case for a young Shawn Arcedino, who grew up in Springfield before moving to Kansas City.
“Whenever we drove past Carpet Barn and saw that horse, I knew I was close to home,” Arcedino said. “It was symbolic of the years I spent there, with my mom and grandparents.”
Now the owner of Atomic Collision, an auto body repair shop at 2712 Truman Rd., Arcedino has amassed a collection of items from yesteryear, namely old signs and advertising displays.
Like everyone else who had come to love the Carpet Barn mascot dubbed “Barney,” Arcedino wondered what would become of him when the business announced its closing in 2017, after 44 years of business. With a new business, Midwest Archery, taking over the address at 4725 N. MO-13 Highway W., the carpet business owners originally stated that Barney would be moved to another location they owned.
Later, the owners of Midwest Archery said they would probably sell Barney in an online auction with the proceeds going to a charity. In the meantime, Barney was simply taken down and stored behind the building. Arcedino left his contact information with the owners in case they decided to sell him outright.
Time passed. This past summer, Arcedino was vacationing in the Ozarks and decided to stop by Midwest Archery to find out the status of Barney. After speaking with one of the owners who said they’d sell him for $2,000, Arcedino replied, “Sold!” While discussing the deal, the other owner indicated they had another offer for $3000.00 they had to honor first – and Arcedino realized they were talking about him – so he ended up paying an additional $1,000 dollars to complete the deal.
“I was fine with that, but it was funny it worked out that way,” Arcedino said.
Two days later, Arcedino returned to Springfield with a trailer for Barney’s trip to his new home. Once loaded, he decided to stop at a restaurant for lunch, and as soon as he pulled in with Barney on the trailer, he had attracted a crowd that wanted to know where Barney was going and to take pictures with him.
“It was crazy, I just wanted some cashew chicken because that restaurant is well-known for having the best cashew chicken,” Arcedino recalled.
Once he got back on the road, he drove with Barney directly to his body shop, where he has started a complete restoration.
The restoration includes removing three layers of paint – which had to be done as his last coating was starting to chip – and repairing a bullet hole that entered through Barney’s nostril and exited through his cheek. Next, the seven-and-a-half foot head that weighs around 400 pounds will be repainted the original colors. Instead of repainting the horse’s bridle, he’ll fabricate one that can be attached and add the letters “CB” for Carpet Barn to Barney’s hat as an ode to his origins.
Arcedino hopes to be completed with the restoration by next spring, then place Barney on a trailer for weekend road trips that will resemble a farewell tour, so people can have a chance to see Barney fully restored before he retires from public life. After the tour, Arcedino plans to hang Barney onto a real barn he owns that is not visible to the public.
Barney, who is a horse – not a mule or donkey – was created from a rebar frame, chicken wire, a layer of burlap and a final layer of fiberglass. Arcedino is posting photos of the restoration process on a Facebook page he created, Carpet Barney.
“Barney inspired my love for odd things, roadside attractions, stuff like that,“ Arcedino said.
Once Barney is completed, Arcedino plans to return to his other large scale project, another popular roadside attraction, the Muffler Man.