After a sweet summer, our doors are finally closing. This final season has passed in a blur of well-wishers and kindred spirits gracing our farm for one last look. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our first-time visitors and all those who came back time after time. It has been our deepest joy to share with you our love for things of the past! Our building restorations, repurposed projects, and outdoor grounds have been a labor of love. We are sincerely grateful for all of our guests over the past 11 years who chose to make Crooked Willow a daytime destination with friends.
Crooked Willow has been the destination of a lifetime for our family. We have been blessed to pursue this dream and to do it together. From young children picking weeds in the garden to helpful husbands maintaining the grounds and dear grandparents finding and fixing antiques, this business has been the bountiful harvest of many hands. My sweet Mama is too humble to accept any praise for her labors, but her courage and perseverance in pursuing this dream of hers is a testament of her strong faith. Both of my parents have sacrificed summer vacations, weekends off, the modest security of typical employment, and privacy of home to sustain Crooked Willow. But they wouldn’t have it any other way!
It is our hope that you have been blessed by your time at Crooked Willow, whether it was simply for one afternoon or a tradition of many summers. We hope that you continue to pursue your love of vintage and antique treasures. As my Mama once said about our little store, “We meet so many wonderful, dear people here every day who share their story with us. They’ll see something that will remind them of growing up or something their mom or grandma had. They’re those special things that warm your heart and don’t have a dollar value! You’re bringing a little joy to someone else’s life through their memories.” And truly, what is an antique but a remembrance of dear days gone by?
A house full of antiques reminds us of the good that has always been and always will be found at the place our memories are most heartfelt: Home. – Kate
The past 11 years have seen our family grow in the art of public relations as we learned how to delicately answer all sorts of questions. An analysis of the types of questions asked at our cash register over this decade reveals the variety of inquiries pondered by our visitors. As a junior-high-aged coffee shop attendant in the Timber House, I recall a number of questions that worried my young soul with privacy concerns (though in retrospect, the questioners must assuredly have asked with kind intentions). A common day of work might require me to face the intimate inquiries of my name, age (“Are you really old enough to work here?”), school, and even which bedroom in the house is mine!
As the youngest employee at Crooked Willow, I imagine my senior co-workers might not have been asked such personal questions. But we all share a laugh over the questions we could answer in our sleep from repetition. Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions:
What is that round building/lighthouse? Can we go inside?
Our silo has a sitting area up at the top and because of safety concerns we do not allow our customers to go inside. However, you can check out our Facebook page to see the view from the top.
How long has Crooked Willow been open?
Eleven years. (That long? I drive past here all the time, but you’re never open!) Actually our schedule has always been pretty consistent open Monday through Saturday from 10-5 in the summer and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10-5 during the months of September through December.
What is that old building behind the Trapper’s Lodge?
Our schoolhouse is the old “English Grove School” it was from District 97. The boys and girls each had a separate entrance, which is why there are two doors on the school!
We used to be able to shop in the house – why isn’t it open anymore?
We live in the house now. If you go in you would most likely be greeted by a pile of laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes!
Where did that staircase in the barn come from?
It came from a house in Pennsylvania and we found it at a salvage shop in the Twin Cities. The stain glass windows in the Barn were in the same house – they would have been located on the stairway landing.
Tell me about this stove.
Our stove is as old as it looks. It began as a wood stove and we had it converted to electric. Yes, it works!
And the most popular question of the year:
Why is this your last season? What will you do next?
After 11 years, our family is ready for something new! We will continue living at Crooked Willow, but we will no longer be a retail business. We look forward to the next chapter and pursuing new endeavors, but we are not ready to share our plans just yet.
40% off to anyone who can ask us something we’ve never heard before! – Kate
The month of May is the perfect time of year to take inventory of life. Graduations remind us of milestones accomplished and prompt us to look forward to whatever the future may hold. Mother’s Day encourages us to hold close to the people who make life worthwhile. The smell of bonfires and joyful laughter echoing across the yard brings to mind memories from summers past. As we celebrate our last season at Crooked Willow, May has us reflecting on where we have been these past eleven years. We remember . . .
-Opening the Barn to celebrate special women during our Mother-Daughter Socials.
-Decorating tables at the Osakis Salad Luncheon.
-Painting projects and creating trash-to-treasure items galore!
-Serving Crooked Willow food samples and root beer floats at our Garden Parties.
-Showcasing quilts made by our talented employees.
-Treating our customers with a cup of coffee or boxed lunches in the Timber House.
-Showcasing the arts and trades of local friends at our Crafter’s Festivals.
-Heating up summer with firetrucks displayed on our lawn at our Sizzlin’ Summer Celebrations.
-Countless conversations with guests who saw something at Crooked Willow that made them remember…
What about you? Any favorite memories made in our little red buildings? – Kate
Winter and spring have passed in a blur of family gatherings, days of work, and patient rearranging in the storefronts. Customers often ask what we do during the off season, but there was no shortage of things to be done this year! Our end-of-year inventory was assessed. Buildings were cleaned. Online Red Shed auctions took place. Furniture migrated. Euro Scrubbies were ordered. Sweet conversations and thoughtful dreams were placed in our hearts. As spring has gradually blossomed, we have felt a new stirring take place at Crooked Willow.
With the utmost peace, we are opening the doors for our last season at Crooked Willow. This little dream of creating a space for people to appreciate days past has been wonderfully fulfilled this past decade. As we reflect on the gracious workers and dear customers who have accompanied us on this journey, we are deeply grateful for your support. Nothing has brought us more joy than showing you how to bring pieces of the past into your home and making you smile when a simple display brought back sweet memories.
Anne of Green Gables knew our hearts when she looked to the bend in the road: “I don’t know what lies around that bend, but I’m going to believe the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend… I wonder how the road beyond it goes—what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows—what new landscapes—what new beauties—what curves and hills and valleys further on.”
We are excited to watch our plans unfold as we see where God leads us in the next chapter. This season will be one of celebration and joy as we remember this journey at Crooked Willow and look to all that is yet to come! We look forward to welcoming you and your friends for a wonderful day of wandering and shopping through our buildings. -Kate
My sweet sister is spending her hours this summer hanging out with preschoolers and wielding a painter’s brush (not at the same time). Though she claims to love both equally, my mama and I fear that we will lose her service one day to the small children that she teaches. In spite of her mixed commitments, her painting skills are growing at exponential rates.
An astounding amount of projects have been dusted from the recesses of our storage, envisioned to become something greater, and transformed by Alex from something horrible to adorable. Furniture ideas and re-purposing aspirations between her and mom are endless. But the question of what to do with a mid-century chair has remained a bit of an enigma.
The dated fabric and battered wood finish could easily cause a passerby to mistake the chair for trash. But upon closer inspection, this chair has great potential to become a pretty perch for someone.
Overwhelmed by the possibilities that surround this chair, Alex is seeking your opinions!
Should she choose “Blossom White” paint and cover the seat with a coral chevron fabric?
Or would a classic “Canyon Black” and toile best suit this chair?
How about a “Ribbit!” green with damask designs?
We are taking your votes over the course of the week! Leave a comment or stop in the store to let us know what direction Alex should take to complete another “Horrible to Adorable” transformation! We will let you know the results and post “After” pictures in the coming weeks – Thanks for your help! – Kate
Ten months ago, I stood on the precipice of an adventure. I took one last picture of our house on my phone before we left—wondering whether anything would change in the weeks I was at school. Or if I would change in my time away. My sweet parents decorated my new dorm room with all the love in their newly empty-nester hearts, stayed to share the first of hundreds of Sodexo catered meals I would come to eat, and prayed me off into the semester.
For someone who loves home as much as I do, I found my weekends in Osakis to be almost more difficult than the ones spent at Bethel, one-hundred miles from my family. Friday afternoon drives from the Cities and Saturday adventures were positively delightful. I lived for these moments. Being with my people, working in the store, and reminiscing with my (also visiting) siblings made me feel like nothing had changed at all. But Sunday morning literally would become Sunday mournings when I remembered that I had to pack my bags again, say goodbye again, and return to school for another set of weeks without seeing my family again. Tears ran hot and fast most Sunday’s when it was time to head back – God bless my gracious drivers who put up with these emotional departures!
But as winter rolled into spring, it became easier to let my Bethel bubble and my Osakis oasis coexist. A parking permit for an on-campus vehicle proved to be the greatest investment of my second semester. Spontaneous trips to Panera Bread, leisurely Target runs without having to catch the shuttle, and simplified travels home brightened my days. Friendships blossomed and grew, new classes encouraged my PR aspirations, and God softened my nervous heart.
A busy 18-credit semester came to a frenzied end on May 21st. I pulled into the Crooked Willow driveway with joy in my heart and peace in my soul. I had since lost the “last” picture I took on that August morning of my house. Like the porch furniture and gentle aging of our home, my major, dreams of playing collegiate tennis, and temporary address were certainly different than when I left. But the collision of new and old could not have mattered less in light of all I had learned about God’s faithfulness. Change is inevitable, but God is unchanging through it all.
Though my Bethel roots are starting to sink deeper, the prospect of three months at home could not be more delightful. Bike rides on the trail, coffee dates with old friends, lemon bars and egg frittatas baked in our own oven, new Karen Kingsbury books, fresh blossoms growing outside, and adventures to be had each day are just a handful of the joys I will be treasuring this summer. Just when one journey ends, another is waiting right around the corner. What blessings to be found in the heart of each day! – Kate