The Farm House bucks up to become Bradenton’s sweetest (in every sense of the word) provider of donuts and decor. A strange combo? Perhaps not, for the gregarious husband and wife duo who value the importance of glazed dough confections as much as wooden herringbone tables and neighborly service.

HUMBLY PULLING HIMSELF UP BY HIS OWN BOOTSTRAPS, self-made businessman Stephen Sheardown created his furniture-making and furnishing company SDS Designs, literally from the ground-up. Custom-designed and built furniture was then nailed to an unexpected oddity when his wife Nancie threw out the idea to add donuts to the mix, and the Farm House Donut and Decor store was born.. “My goal is to have a place where everyone feels at home; everybody feels important,” says Stephen. “Notice, there is nobody on their cell phones in here, not a single person. It doesn’t have that typical coffee shop vibe where people are on headphones and laptops in their own bubble. It’s the only real shop I know where people talk to each other.” Now making its mark at three locations, the Sheardowns have opened all within a year’s time. “We did all the construction, all the design and merchandising ourselves,” Stephen notes of each Farm House filled with its own paradise of antiques and decadent nibbles. Meaning, the same folks who come in to shop for some cool novelties for their home can also order a Cow Pattie (chocolate donut with peanut butter drizzle and Reese’s crumbles). Once you pass the industrial light bulb cages and massive swinging couch hanging from the ceiling, find agrarian and artisan goods scattered throughout, including candles, placemats, knitted blankets, throw pillows, natural soaps, cutting boards, birdhouses, coffee mugs, cactus plants and cowhide bags. Upon approaching the distressed wood counter and illuminated display of salvaged letters spelling out ‘The Farm House,’ the Sheardowns warmly welcome customers, who come from far and wide, to try out their 18 gourmet-weird handheld feasts. From Grandma Myers Oatmeal to Apple Pie, Milk & Cookies and Strawberry Patch, you, your friends and family, are in for one indulgent and quirky hoedown. Settle in for other off-the-grid flavors like the Sweet Squealing Pig (maple glaze, bacon pieces and salted drizzle), Mud Hole (brownie batter and gummy worms), Hay Stack (chocolate, toasted coconut and caramel drizzle) and the Fancy Cowboy (vanilla, Fruity Pebbles and marshmallow). Possibly its most proud conception—the Breakfast Donut Sandwich—sees a sunny-side egg with ham and cheese on a grilled, glazed yeast donut, all with a merciless option to add maple sausage gravy. Leave your calorie counting at the door and feel like a kid again with grilled cheeses and tomato soup, southern-style chicken wings, ice cream cake sandwiches, hot chocolate and flavored coffee fraps. 

While digesting donuts, meander around the head-swiveling display of handpicked items on sale, while tapping your toe to some good ol’ country music playing overhead. The space lends itself to a rustic yet homey barn, dressed with exposed brick walls and vintage Chevrolet car faces and Western motel signs. The Sheardowns recall driving up, down and around the states the last eight years, scouring mercantiles, junkyards, people’s garages/backyards and abandoned warehouses, gathering statement pieces here and there to deck out The Farm Houses. “We have storage containers and an entire barn that we’ve filled up over the years, traveling around to different shows and different places,” says Stephen. “Then we threw all of our experiences together into our shops.” And these experiences range from climbing ladders up into the creepy attic of an abandoned movie theater for a 200-year-old cash register to fending off overprotective guard dogs in hillbilly country. “Literally, I’d knock door-to-door and say, ‘Hi my name is Stephen. I saw some stuff in your backyard, can I get a look in there and see if there’s anything I want to buy?’” Stephen says, to which Nancie quickly jumps in giggling, “Yeah, and you about got eaten by a dog.” 

Not just a Bradenton resident’s domain, The Farm House exists as much a local’s hangout as a visitor’s. “If somebody comes to Bradenton, they’re going to the beach; they’re going to The Ringling; they’re going to The Farm House. We want to be a staple in the community—a must-see attraction on travelers’ itineraries,” says Stephen, to which Nancie nods in sentiment and adds, “We want to be the place that’s a friendly local environment, where people can come by themselves or with their family, and just have the best experience they’ve ever had in hospitality.”  

The Farm House & SDS Designs, 902 Manatee Ave. East, Bradenton, 941-713-5222.