BY KELLY VIRDEN
Pine River Journal Editor
Barclay Avenue in Pine River has a new shop downtown: Hens & Chicks Curiosities: a business collaboration among local women interested in indulging their creativity and providing a unique place for shoppers.
Jenny Hill, Sheila Hunter, Kris Kayser, Barb Mann, Marty Mann, Becky Stanton, Rhoda Swanson and Quinn Swanson are all contributors to the store that specializes in antiques, art work, shabby chic, re-created products, gift items, collectibles and new items mixed in with vintage ones.
The women are taking turns staffing the store, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 15 – with hopes to extend through the holidays.
The Hens & Chicks name is a nod to the multi-generational makeup of the faces behind the business.
The group used to get together socially to have an informal swap of items with each other. No money was exchanged, and they merely brought things from home and swapped, Kayser explained. The informal group had “you know what we should do?”-types of conversations that turned into the drive to open a store.
“We admired each other’s taste and liked each other’s stuff,” Hill said of the inspiration to start the seasonal business together.
“We have a strong faith in the future of Pine River and wanted the storefront on Main Street to be open again,” Kayser added.
Hunter said that she’s talked about many different ventures over the years, but didn’t implement them. “This is doing it,” she said of Hens & Chicks. The women who were employed before are continuing with their usual jobs and taking turns staffing the store. They are renting the space, which used to be a yoga studio.
They collectively designed the displays to creatively showcase the items for sale.
Each has their own way of contributing to the store’s offerings.
Marty Mann is a quilter and enjoys sewing. “What drives me is the need to be creative,” Marty said of her motivation to be involved in Hens & Chicks Curiosities.
Her daughter, Barb Mann, has been “upcycling” items for the store – taking ordinary items and recombining them or repurposing them into something unique.
“I take something a little bit worn out and improve it,” Mann said. She’s been refurnishing and repainting furniture and recovering cushions and pillows.
She’s also been making birdbaths using diverse items such as lamps and vases, bowls, cooking pots and pans.
Barb said that one of the goals for group is to have a good time in the process of creating and offering goods to Pine River. “Hopefully we have a positive impact in Pine River,” she said.
Antiques are another of the store’s offerings. Hill said that she and the fellow business partners had antiques they were willing to sell ¬– antiques inherited from family members or collected over time. “We want (them) to go somewhere where they’ll be loved,” Hill said.
“It’s easier to let go of things when you feel will be claimed by someone who loves them,” Hunter said.
While they are constantly bringing in new inventory, they do not have any items on consignment. “We do want people to come back because it’s always something new,” Marty said.
Hunter also has a good description of what Hens & Chicks Curiosities offers to shoppers. The store is a little like a wedding: something old, something new, something borrowed and blue, she said.
Marty said that they wanted someplace that people would talk about, a place that would build a good reputation where people would feel comfortable to come in and browse.
“We want people to come in and hang out and hopefully find something they can’t live without,” Quinn Swanson said.
The store opened the Thursday of Summerfest weekend to an excellent crowd of area residents and visitors who signed the guestbook. “We heard a lot of positive comments,” Marty said.
Other businesses have been supportive. Everyone’s been very friendly and generous with advice, Hill added.