By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN With only four sales a year, Whimsy Green occasional store draws quite the crowd of women, who are lined up outside the doors of the big red barn before they even open.
“[The sales] get bigger and bigger, and the barn does not,” said Allison Lundeen, who, along with her three sisters and mother, operate the occasional sale on her rural Dassel homestead.
Come spring, summer, fall, and winter, the sisters scurry to organize the store with their one-of-a-kind personally designed home decor and furniture.
As mothers of young children, having an occasional store that is only open four times a year is perfect for them, Lundeen said.
“We’re naptime workers,” Lundeen said of herself and sisters, including Sonia Whittaker, also of Dassel. Lundeen and Whittaker were both teachers in the Dassel-Cokato School District and are now stay-at-home moms.
The two sisters are originally from Wausau, WI, which is where their other two sisters and business partners, Melanie Frederick and Jenni Peterson still live. The four, and their mother, Sue Young, are all key players in the store, working together in just over a day to prepare the store by staging rooms and creating home-like spaces throughout the barn.
Whimsy Green, a name Melanie came up with, grew from what was supposed to be a glorified garage sale two years ago after the Lundeens moved to their new home.
It was after that move that Allison realized a lot of her furniture wasn’t going to work.
The sisters decided, as part of the sale, they would include some of their homemade décor, which Lundeen describes as a style similar to Pottery Barn.
Each sister has her own specialty. Sonia creates a lot of the signs and pillows seen in the shop. Allison sews slipcovers and refurbishes much of the furniture. Jenni creates signs. Melanie is good at finding treasures and “does the little stuff that makes our shop fun,” Sonia commented. And Mom “She doesn’t get paid a penny, but she works as hard as the rest of us,” Allison said. Their dad is also there, at every sale, as “the welcoming committee.”
“It’s a fun family affair,” she noted.
With a glorified garage sale in mind, the women committed to one sale and “out of that came Whimsy,” Lundeen said.
She recalls how her husband, Ryan, really wanted to use the big, red barn for chickens and a cow. She found it to have “way too much potential” to use it for housing livestock.
“It needs to be used for home décor,” Lundeen said.
Both Ryan and Sonia’s husband, Matt (also a teacher in the DC school district), were very supportive of their wives’ business endeavor and helped get the barn ready for an occasional shop, the sisters noted.
With virtually no advertising, other than social, the store has grown by word-of-mouth and the sisters are amazed at the response they’ve had.
Situated in rural Dassel off of Meeker County Road 24 (69735 268th Avenue), location doesn’t seem to be a deterrent for the occasional sale. The sisters noted that women don’t have a problem driving out from the metro area for their sale.
“Ladies come from all over,” Lundeen said, and the sisters are “blown away” with their followers, many of whom are from the “Pinterist generation” ranging in age from the 20s to the 40s.
“We love having the creative outlet, but we also love being able to allow other moms and women to make their house a home at better prices than they could find in retail stores,” Lundeen said.
“I’d also say that we love working together as sisters and a family. We couldn’t ask for much more.”
The women are currently preparing for their fall sale, set for Thursday, Sept. 26 and Saturday, Sept. 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Because items tend to go so quickly the first day, or even hours, of their sale (Thursday), the sisters have learned to save items for the second and final sale (Saturday).
They are also doing their best to keep up with the demand, Sonia noted, however, “If we had an unlimited supply, we wouldn’t be specialty.”
More of the Whimsy style and decor can be seen on Instagram #buyitatwhimsy.