Vintage Hub in Kandiyohi, Minnesota, provides a space to shop, create and gather
The Vintage Hub gift store is located in a historic bank building in Kandiyohi, and sells a variety of homemade goods by local artisans and craftspeople.
KANDIYOHI — For owner Anne Nelson, the Vintage Hub of Kandiyohi isn’t just a gift store but also a hub of the community. It is a place for senior artisans and craftspeople to sell their creations. It is a room for friends to make a craft and be creative. And it is somewhere community members can grab a cup of coffee, pull up a stool and chat.
“This is a special place,” Nelson said.
The Vintage Hub is actually the second store Nelson has run in the historic bank building in the center of Kandiyohi. She first operated a restored furniture store called Upcycled Times with her sister for several years. Throughout that time, local artisans would ask if they could sell their wares in the store. Nelson said she would jot down their information, saving it for a future date when perhaps the store’s business model would allow for a more eclectic stock.
That date came in the fall of 2020, when Nelson took over the furniture store completely and transformed it into the gift shop she had been envisioning for years. She took down that binder full of names and started ringing people up. Soon she had a store almost filled to the ceiling with homemade arts and crafts, intermingled with a few vintage and antique items.
“It’s a little of everything and it’s a mixture of all,” Nelson said. “It’s amazing to me.”
Currently, the store sells homemade soaps and lotions, purses made out of books, pillows, Lake Superior rock art, wildlife art, quilts, journals, various types of jewelry and quite a bit more. The vast majority of it is created by artisans and craftspeople, most from the local area.
“I love the stuff they do,” Nelson said. “They are so creative, so unique.”
Right now the Vintage Hub has 72 vendors. What makes the store truly special is that 67 of those vendors are senior citizens.
For many of the vendors, it might be difficult or impossible for them to travel to various arts and crafts fairs or sell their goods themselves. The Vintage Hub offers them that chance to get their art in front of consumers and earn some extra money. Nelson has seen firsthand how important this supplemental income can be for seniors who might otherwise be on a fixed income.
“I do this for them,” Nelson said.
The Vintage Hub does host an annual flea market during the city’s Kandi is Dandy Days. This year the market is June 9-10 and will bring even more vendors with the arts, crafts and wares for people to peruse and purchase.
“It is a really big thing,” Nelson said.
With the treasure trove of items, the Vintage Hub can be a unique shopping experience. Visitors never know what they may find. It can be a great place to find that gift for a special event or for that person who is impossible to buy for.
“We have a lot of guys come in here, looking for a gift for their wife or mother. They usually end up finding something,” Nelson said. “It’s a gift for everybody, which is what I wanted.”
Recently, Nelson rearranged the store to free up the back room to be used for craft events. Nelson has both held classes for the public and hosted private parties. Groups can pick a craft project to do, while enjoying a few treats and socializing with friends. Those interested in holding a gathering at the Vintage Hub just need to give Nelson a call.
“I want people to see what is possible,” Nelson said.
While the Vintage Hub is a business, Nelson wants people to see it as a bit more. She placed a bench out front, to give walkers a place to sit if they need it. She also created a small memorial garden on one side of the building, where she places a memorial plaque for Kandiyohi residents who have died since the store opened.
She enjoys it when people come in and just want to talk, and loves it when people feel at home. There is always coffee and cookies available.
“It’s always storytelling when people come in,” Nelson said.
And Nelson has a few tales to tell about a couple of spectral residents of the building.
“I don’t want you to think I’m nuts, but the place is haunted,” Nelson said, who has even had a paranormal investigative team come out to see what is up.
According to Nelson, there is a 5-year-old girl named Emily and a newspaper boy named Clive running around the store. Emily usually stays near the bathroom in the back, though she has been known to come out and play with stuffed dolls. Clive is a bit more mischievous, moving things around and messing with people while they shop.
“Clive is my jokester,” Nelson said.
The Vintage Hub’s ghosts are just one more thing that makes the store a special place.
Stores that sell homemade and vintage items remain popular. Nelson said she has visitors from all over the Willmar Lakes Area make special trips to her store. It is also a great way for people to shop local. Not only are you supporting a local business, but also local craftspeople.
“I have the uniqueness here of items that people make and bring in that you aren’t going to Walmart to get,” Nelson said.
The last few years have been difficult for many. Nelson said dozens of similar stores have been lost due to the pandemic and owners decided to retire. She wishes more had tried to stick it out, because places like the Vintage Hub not only offer vendors a place to sell their goods, but also provide a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that brings visitors to small rural Minnesota towns such as Kandiyohi.
“It is a vintage store. It is homemade. It is people putting their heart into it,” Nelson said.