Christy Skelton takes ownership of a piece of community history after it closed during COVID. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

Christy Skelton takes ownership of a piece of community history after it closed during COVID 

HUNTSVILLE, ARK. – For years the Marble Sale Barn was an institution in Arkansas. Located in Huntsville, it was not only a place where people could buy and sell animals, products and household items, but it was also viewed as a community gathering spot. 

That is what drew Christy Skelton to it. Despite having grown up in the southeastern part of the state, when she moved to the area for a teaching job 14 years ago, she soon became friends with the sale barn’s owners, Floyd and Kathy Cline. 

“I’ve heard about it for years that I’ve lived here and always heard people talk about how much they love going there,” Christy said. “They love being around all of the community, and it’s kind of a place to bring the community together.” 

But the thought of running a sale barn never entered Christy’s mind. 

“I’ve always been interested in them and thought they were neat,” Christy said. “But that was not something in my foresight.” 

However, in early 2020, it looked like the Marble Sale Barn had seen its last days. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic had ratcheted up, the Clines were already looking to close the doors for good. 

“I knew they had run the sale barn and their son, Spencer, has been the auctioneer there for many, many years,” Christy said. “They decided they weren’t going to open it back up. And so, I had the opportunity. We discussed it as friends, and then I decided that it was something I wanted to pursue.” 

Before the idea popped into her head, Christy had never thought about running the sale barn. But the more she thought about it, the more she grew to like it and see the benefits of taking over the enterprise. 

“I am an agriculture education teacher by trade,” Christy said. “So it’s one of those opportunities where I thought that that sounds like that would be a good opportunity to do several things. I saw that as an opportunity further to teach my kids about the industry part of agriculture. They can learn several things. They can learn about animal welfare through a variety of different animals. I saw it as an opportunity to teach regulation.” 

Christy is currently in her 15th year at Berryville High School. 

Christy also saw the purchase of the Marble Sale Barn as an investment.

“It’s good to put something back for me for retirement,” Christy said. “I saw it as a retirement opportunity. So, after I retire, that’s probably what I’m going to do.” 

Christy officially took over the Marble Sale Barn in June and had her first sale July 23. 

“I think it went really well,” Christy said. “It could have run a little smoother, but it’s just getting back in the swing of things. They’ve been shut down since right before COVID. And so, they hadn’t been back open since. So we were just getting some of the bugs worked out.” 

Marble Sale Barn in Huntsville, Arkansas. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

She is aided by her daughters, Hayley, 25, and Bailey, 15. Austin Williamson took over as the auctioneer and takes care of outside sales. 

“The sale barn is where you sell sheep, goats, cattle, swans, chickens, rabbits. But we also are a little different. We also sell house items, antique collectibles, and things people want to get rid of; it’s called an outside sale.” 

The Marble Sale Barn will be open every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

With no previous experience in running a sale barn, the first couple of months have been a crash course for Christy. She is learning something new almost every day about being a business owner. 

“Probably the regulations have been my biggest thing to learn,” Christy said. “I knew some of them, but I didn’t know all of them, so that was probably my biggest thing to learn: what to expect, what I could do, and what I can’t do. That’ll always be an area where they will update and regulate and make changes. So that’ll be a continuing education.”

In the coming months, after things settle down, the Marble Sale Barn will have its name changed to The Marble Market Place. 

However, besides the name change, Christy has decided she isn’t going to make too many drastic changes. She is not trying to turn the sale barn into something different. 

“I’ve tried to keep everything as close to the same as possible because what they did was very successful and it worked,” Christy said. “It was a place there for local farmers to bring their animals and merchandise and exchange ideas. It’s a gathering place. It’s really neat, unique place. It’s not like any other livestock barn.”

Christy doesn’t just see the sale barn as a business. She views it as a part of the region’s history that needs to be preserved. 

“It’s amazing. It’s very heartwarming. I love to talk to all of the people around there,” Christy said. “I’ve learned, and I want to continue to learn about the history around there and, you know, about the people that live there. I moved from south Arkansas. So I’ve been around this area for 14 years. But I still have a lot to learn about all of the families and I just need to listen to people talk about their families, their history, and their family traditions. That’s really neat.” 

That is an experience Christy wants to continue to share with her students. 

“I am going to teach for as long as I can,” Christy said. “I enjoy my students. I enjoy working with them and learning with them. They teach me sometimes more than I teach them. My passion is teaching kids about the agriculture industry and giving them opportunities to know where they can fit into the agricultural industry somewhere.” 


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