RUSTIC. SIMPLISTIC. MINIMALIST.
Those words wash over me as I step into the Faribault Woolen Mill Company’s recently re-opened retail store.
I could have strolled into an art gallery for the artsy vibe of this place. It has that feel, that sense of style and creative energy, which tells you this is no cookie-cutter retail outlet but someplace special.
From the white-washed paneled walls to the utility spools brushed in crisp white paint to the shelves leveled upon a ladder to the uniform white cubbies, the décor here is bare bones basic. It’s perfect for showing off the woolen blankets hung and folded ever so precisely in this historic woolen mill along the banks of the Cannon River in Faribault.
Jean Moody is tending the store on this recent hot and humid Saturday afternoon in May when the thought of purchasing a wool blanket seems not even a remote possibility. My curiosity draws me inside the store, into this building where I’ve never set foot even though I’ve lived in Faribault for nearly 30 years.
On this afternoon, Jean welcomes me, obliging my request to photograph a meeting room and also a wall behind the retail counter. I have no idea she is the wife of Paul Mooty, who purchased the foreclosed mill and reopened it in 2011 with his cousin, Chuck Mooty, until she introduces herself later.
She’s friendly and engaging and genuinely interested in connecting with Faribault residents and grateful for the warm welcome given to her family.
After the sudden closure of the mill in 2009, locals seem delighted with the Mooty cousins’ revival of the mill which dates back to 1865.
The Faribault Woolen Mill’s mission, according to the company website is “to provide the finest quality goods made only by American craftsmen here in Faribault, Minnesota.”
Fine examples of that craftsmanship are presented to the public in the woolen blankets and throws so artfully displayed in the store which, according to Jean, has a Ralph Lauren/Northwoods look.
I’d agree. Comfort. Simplicity. Americana. All qualities in Ralph Lauren’s signature fashion style exist in this mill store which seems destined to once again become a must-see destination for visitors to Faribault, one of Minnesota’s oldest and most historic cities.
FYI: The Faribault Woolen Mill retail store holds its grand opening from 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 14. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled in conjunction with the Faribault Heritage Days Mayor’s Reception.
Tours of the Woolen Mill, located on the banks of the Cannon River at 1500 Second Avenue Northwest near the Rice County Fairgrounds, will be offered as part of the Heritage Days celebration at 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, and again on Friday, June 15. Preregister by calling (507) 334-2064.
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Note: These photographs were shot one month ago.