Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Antiquing with my husband in Kenyon and Lake City July 17, 2012

A sweet little gallery and antique shop, The Kenyon Gallery in Kenyon.

I AM ONE OF THOSE ANTIQUE SHOPPERS, emphasis on the word those.

Allow me to explain. I enjoy browsing through antique stores, but I seldom buy. Why? I am cheap and prefer to find my collectibles and antiques at thrift stores and rummage sales.

Perhaps that word cheap isn’t quite right. Let’s change that to budget conscious. Yes, that’s better.

It’s not that I haven’t ever made an antique store purchase. I have. Just not that often. I am sorry, antique dealers. I do appreciate you and all the effort you put into finding, displaying and selling your merchandise.

Loved this unassuming casual country style table setting inside The Kenyon Gallery.

I’ve always wondered, though, how can you bear to part with your treasures? If I had to give up one of my two dozen or so vintage tablecloths, I would struggle. Oh, yes, I’ve done that, loaning several to my eldest daughter. The emphasis here would be on the word loan.

Recently my husband and I took a day trip to Lake City, which is on Lake Pepin (aka a wide spot in the Mississippi River). But before we reached that southeastern Minnesota town, we stopped in Kenyon at The Kenyon Gallery, a shop that markets a mixture of merchandise including $5 frames, framed prints, antiques and collectibles.

Here are three particularly interesting items I eyed up with my camera until my husband said, “We’ve gotta keep moving along here.” He was right and out the door we went, still aiming for Lake City.

The design on these chair backs intrigues me; I’ve never seen anything like these chairs. Readers, do you know anything about these chairs or their value?

I call it art although both pieces really have to do with something involving the making of furniture. I think.

I grew up on a dairy farm. What can I say?

Before we got there, though, we had to stop in Bellechester and check out a cornfield.

And then we were back on the road to Lake City. The husband might have repeated, “We’ve gotta keep moving along here.”

The Lake Pepin Pearl Button Co, a must-stop antique store in Lake City.

If you’re into antiquing, you’ll like the shopping in this riverside town. The Lake Pepin Pearl Button Co., located in a former button factory and dry goods store and with around 40 antique dealers, will easily occupy you for hours, if your spouse is patient. Not that I window-shopped for hours. But I could have.

A nickel for your fortune and a nickel for the foodshelf at the Button Co.

Pop art style graphics and my childhood fondness for 7-UP made this sign a tempting purchase at the Button Co.

So onward we traipsed in the heat and humidity.

A 1957 pen and ink drawing print by M.M. Swanston.

In the basement of Mississippi Mercantile (don’t you love the names of these antique stores?), I spotted this unusual portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

On to the Antique Shopper, I found plenty of appealing merchandise on the main level and in the basement of this multi-dealer venue.

My mom used snack sets to serve company when I was growing up, the reason I am typically drawn to these fancy dishes.

I had a tough time passing up these vintage bowls in the Antique Shopper. I have this thing for bowls, as my husband and kids will tell you. And these are beauties, unlike any I’ve seen.

Simply a graceful display highlighted by that Greta Garble photo.

Just as we were heading for the door, my spouse spotted an antique Grain Belt beer cooler under a table and paused to admire it.

My husband lingered at this Grain Belt cooler in Antique Shopper.

The oppressively hot, humid and smothering weather coupled with a strong desire to swig a cold one compelled both of us to just stand there for a few seconds and stare.

But then I snapped out of my heat-induced stupor. “We’ve gotta be moving along,” I muttered and out the door we went.

CLICK HERE TO LINK to a previous post about Lake City, specifically its pearl button-making history.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling