Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Update


Holy hell have we been busy!!

As you probably know, we had a “catastrophic loss” of the dollar store and retail/residential building we (mostly Lois) spent seven years nurturing. Click here to read that post. That was over two years ago now, in June of 2013.

My sister already had quite the menagerie of pets–mostly “needs a good home” types, and now she had to figure out how to feed them.She’d always wanted to do animal therapy, but the store and life kept getting in the way. Now we had the time, and some insurance money that needed to be put to good use, so we went for it, and Cook’s Country Connection was born.

Last Labor Day was our first day open to the public (we’d been shooting for May, but you know how these things go!). We got a few field trips under our belts and worked out many kinks in that first two months of operation.

I also became a grandma in October of last year!! My Middle Spawn Harley had a baby boy, and he is the seventh generation to be on the farm! She is an awesome mom, nursing him and using (not to mention MAKING) cloth diapers.

Liam_Monster_Jammies-4

I love being a gramma, and helped a lot with babysitting his first few months while his mom worked midnights. Naturally I overdid it. Now we are easing back in, but wow is he faster and stronger than me some days!! The Toddler Corral is a great safe place to plop him when I am busy in the Farm Store.

LW and chicks at farm (8 of 8)

The Baby Exhibit!

LW and chicks at farm (6 of 8)

LW, perilously close to the poultry.

 

My Eldest Spawn, Bethany is getting married later this month! She has always been the party planner of the family, so of course everything is ticking right along on schedule. Her step daughter calls me Gramma, too, so that’s been arip.

I spent the winter being an artist…photographing and making jewelry which we sell at the Farm Store and the gallery in town, and writing. I even joined a writers’ group at the gallery, which helps force me to make time to write. Youngest Spawn has attended the group with me all summer, and it’s been really good for him, too. I always tell him how talented he is, but sometimes it means more from strangers.

I also signed up to teach a couple of Community Ed classes at the farm. Making a bowling ball gazing ball, vermiculture, and yoga at the farm. Yoga. What the hell was I thinking??? I was thinking that since my yogini moved out east, we could still do yoga at the farm if I taught it. Ugh. My procrastination is in high gear on that one!! Not to mention Imposter Syndrome! My rheumatologist thought it was a great idea, so we’ll see!

What else is new??? Mr. Wonderful would like me to tell you I’ve also been busy making him sammiches. I shouldn’t have to tell you that is BS. I have, however, made lots of jelly.

plum jelly-2-2

Loveyabye! Talk to you soon, and hope to see you at the farm!

PS: You’re welcome, Dawny B!!!

 

 

 

We’re Baaaaaaack!


Losing Cook Dollar Barn was one of the worst experiences we have lived through. It wasn’t just a store; it was an important social hub for the Pajari Girls, and our little town, too. Every day, the list of people and things we miss gets longer. And when people told us that there must be something even better around the corner, we KNEW they were lying.

Now, we are headed back. Back in “A Barn, if not “The Barn”.

So here’s the scoop: barring zoning, insurance or licensing issues, Her Highness The Queen of Poo (Lois) is hoping to open the Peterson family homestead as a petting farm/ event location this summer! Can we get a whoop whoop??

farm barnherd, pony, llama, goat, sheep

farm, barn, cat  

great pyrenees, dog, boy, farm

walli, corgi, dog,

goat, farm, pajari girls

alpaca, farm, pajari girls

pony, farm, horse. girl guinea hens, fowl, poultry bunny, rabbit, zip, hens, chickens, farm, eggs Flemish Giant, rabbit, bunny donkey, the farm, pajari girls

Cook Dollar Barn Update


Cook Dollar Barn

Dear Friends,

We can’t believe it’s been a month since we lost the Barn. It feels more like a reeeally long week. There are some questions that we can answer for you now and some we can’t… here goes.

First, THANK YOU!! For all the kind thoughts, prayers, hotdishes, hugs, cards, money, volunteerism, and general awesomeness.

When will cleanup start? Sorry to say, it will be weeks or even months. Until all insurance companies sign off, the scene is to remain “unspoiled”. Please stay back, and keep your kids off the rubble as well.  There is a 4,000 square foot basement filled with water and debris. If you see anyone messing around there, please let one of us know. Or call 911. Believe me, we are anxious to clean up what’s left of River Street Rentals, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and the homes of 8 friends. We know it…

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Losing The Barn


BarnFire 063

On June 17, 2013, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and 8 apartments went up in smoke. Everyone got out ok, including Middle Spawn and another tenant who were the only people in the building at the time. All the tenants are clothed and relocated, and the fire has been ruled an accident, though the actual cause may never be known.

It’s hard to write this. I have been trying for two weeks to put into words all the gratitude, love, loss, devastation, hope, and countless acts of kindness. But grieving is a lot of work.  I can’t focus very long on any one thing, and my emotions are all over the map. So today I decided that instead of waiting for my brain to catch up to my heart, I would just take it a day at a time and blog about it all.

For the first week or so, we were in denial. I know I was, anyway. That’s ok though, because denial is a useful coping mechanism. It let my brain kind of run on auto-pilot while necessary arrangements and calls were made. If I’d tried to deal with all the emotional stuff, I’d have lost it. Honey Badger helped. We all became a little more like Honey Badger on YouTube.

Until yesterday, I was in the anger phase of grief. Not just testy. Boiling, seething, almost ready to hide bodies angry. Which is exhausting and scary. Plus I think it was Shark Week. Did I mention I quit smoking two weeks before the fire?

Then I visited a friend in hospice and depression kicked me in the face. Another loss…. A total stranger held me in the hallway and told me how sorry she was that my friend was so sick, while I cried so hard and from such a deep place that I almost couldn’t breathe. It’s the first time I have really cried since the building burned. (I’m the emotionally stunted one; Lois somehow manages to cry a lot and STILL get stuff done.)

And wow, is there a lot of stuff to do.

Insurance. There’s the insurance for the building, insurance for the store, lack of insurance for the 8 tenants, and insurance for the three businesses that could have easily burned with the Barn, but were nonetheless damaged by smoke and water. And our chimney and walls falling on it didn’t help.

And we aren’t the only ones grieving. For the first week, Lois pretty much showed up every day and sat and cried and visited with customers and friends whose hugs truly held her together so far. Every day, every trip to town is like another visitation or funeral. Not that that’s bad! I know it helps ME to hear people’s memories of The Barn, or the tons of other businesses that the former Brown Building housed. Seems like almost everyone has lived there at one time or another, too…

BarnFire 079

There is a Facebook page set up for the fundraisers the community is planning,  under Brown Building Fire Relief Effort. 

It looks to be one heck of a party for all ages. Live music, kids’ games, cotton candy, pig roast…wow!

Maybe tomorrow I will tackle some of the FAQ’s, like when cleanup can start and if rebuilding is an option. For now, thank you everyone who has helped during this super-sucky time.

Loveyabye,

Laura aka Employee of the Month.

Saying Goodbye To My Office


At least I was able to rush into play practice last night and say, “Sorry I’m late! I forgot my briefcase….IN MY OFFICE!!”

Cook Dollar Barn, Pajari Girls, Employee of the year

Read all about it here.

Promotion!!


WOOHOO!! A proud day! I can’t wait to decorate my new office!

Cook Dollar Barn

Yes, fans, it has finally happened. I got the office I have been petitioning for, AND recognition as Employee of the Month!

Take a video tour here!

Thanks everyone for making it happen! Lois finally caved in and did what her heart told her was right. I don’t even care that she is in denial about her motives. (She thinks she meant it as a prank, but I know that deep deep down she wanted to recognize my outstanding efforts!)

Please visit The Barn’s Facebook page if you don’t want to chime in on here. Thanks, everyone!! Loveyabye!

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The Barn Has a Website!


Kind of. We can’t really decide if it’s just a place to find info on the store for non-Facebookers, another blog like Pajari Girls, or if we should at some point add e-commerce. Any and all thoughts are welcome! (Lois is not being very helpful, and I usually know just enough about any given subject to get into trouble.)

Mostly, we use Facebook to keep customers/friends up-t0-date on Life at The Barn. But not everyone likes or uses Facebook. True story.

That’s why I made this blog…to corral all our interests together.

However, a shocking number of people aren’t sure what a blog IS. (I was one of them until last August.)

That’s where www.CookDollarBarn.com comes in.

What do you think The Barn’s website should be about/contain?

Thanks,

The Employee of the Year

Playing With Water at -25F


One of my latest self-discoveries was that hating winter doesn’t make it shorter, and it certainly doesn’t make me any happier. So, after making ice candles, candle rings, and ice gems/marbles, I went hunting for more crafty ideas on Pinterest and found this genius named Tracy Lynn Conway who had pinned ice sun catchers using a cake pan and/or muffin pans. I was inspired.

The best thing about this cold snap is that I can stand at my kitchen door and watch water freeze. Shut up–it’s verry interesting. Stop judging me!!  Mr. Wonderful found it pretty chuckalicious too, until I sent him a picture.

ice suncatcher

Eat those words, Larry.

This is a fast, cheap, and easy way to fight cabin fever, depression, and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is also Parent of the Year stuff. Youngest Spawn is learning all about frostbite and how ice forms.

Tracy made her sun catchers in the freezer, but I had a blast watching the ice form outside. (And at -20, it was waaaaay faster. See her pin/blog for more on using the freezer.) My favorite effect is when the food coloring freezes while dissipating in the water…it looks like psychedelic snowflakes.

TIP: If you want to use multiple colors, wait until the water is almost ice. Otherwise, you will end up with brown sun catchers.

I’d tried making my ice marbles into hanging ornaments, but the curly ribbon always broke when I tried to remove the balloon. (And they were kind of heavy, which is tough on winter-brittle branches.) That’s where the muffin pan came in. I used magnets to hold the curly ribbon where I wanted it.

muffin pan, sun catcher, ice

I like the way the silver curly ribbon catches the light.

Like the other ice crafts, it’s all about catching the light. A Bundt pan has a ready-made hanging hole, as well as ridges.

ice, bundt pan, suncatcher

I only filled it 1/3 of the way..less weight for the string.

Because I didn’t want all the colors to bleed together, I didn’t add the drops of food coloring until it had started to freeze. Therefore, the color only shows from one side. I dribbled more food coloring on the other side like a glaze.

Glazed.

Glazed.

We have these sets of 3 plastic heart containers at The Barn ($.50 per set), and I just knew they would be good for something. Adding lace (also on clearance), and some foofy colored ice cubes I made from silicone baking molds…

sun catcher, ice, heart. rose,

Ice Valentines to hang in a tree.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

On the thicker sun catchers, my color didn’t go all the way through, so I finger-painted a quick heart on the back of this one.

sun catcher, ice, valentine,

This is why my fingers are red.

Again, thank you to Tracy Conway for the great tutorial! Here are some other fun things to do with water in the winter:

ice marbles/gems

Make ice gems/ marbles with balloons. And spray yourself and kitchen blue.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

Make ice candles with Cool-Whip bowls.

Bundt pan ice candle

Ice candle ring from Bundt pan.

Comments? Questions? Tips? Please “like”, share or Pin it! Better yet, vote to make me Employee of the YEAR!! Loveyabye.

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy


Lois’ motto for The Barn is: “We’re not here to make money; we’re here to make friends.” So far, so good, lol! We have met some amazing and interesting people in the last 7 years–Miranda Lambert is right, everybody IS famous in a small town.

My sister Lois and I met Kathy Weiand (pronounced WHY-end) through the Dollar Barn almost seven years ago. She used to travel the 45 miles every Monday to shop our store, garage sales, and The Thrift Shop for treasures to add to her craft projects (mostly birdhouses).  In the summer, Fridays are a better day to hit garage sales along the way, so Monday Kathy became Friday Kathy. In the winter, Thursday is her town day, thus she became Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy. As nicknames go, it’s not the most succinct.  Too bad if you’re into the whole brevity thing. (Big Lebowski reference…keep up.)

Now her nephew Cory, of  World By My Design, has revamped her website, tweaked her Etsy shop, and added a blog! We are so excited for her we could just die! 🙂

shopping, holed up north, cook dollar barn, art

This is what she looks like every time she walks into The Barn. That smile! Those dimples! The pure JOY she radiates! Plus, she is usually carrying baked goods and lunch.

birch, lichen, foraging

Surrounded by thousands of acres of woods, there is no shortage of lichen and birch bark for her projects.

birch bark, birdhouse

In her own words:

“I’ve always been creative/crafty. When my husband and I moved up to Northern Minnesota (by the Canadian border) in 1982, we worked a lot at resorts and therefore, had our winters off (hence the ‘Holed up North’). So I started doing crafts to stay busy. A little over 10 years ago I converted our sauna into a wood working shop and started building birdhouses.

As much as I liked doing the other crafts I loved making birdhouses. These were not your ordinary birdhouses. I would scour garage sales, gift shops, and thrift stores to find small figurines or decorations I could use to make the most unique house for indoors or out. I would collect, wash, and varnish small stones from our road, cut alder brush and collect moss from our property to use on the houses. The houses are God-inspired and love-made with my hands.”

holed up north, birdhouse, ornament birdhouse, cook dollar barn, christmas crafts

I still can’t believe she made THIS with stuff from The Barn!

bamboobrasshouse

birdhouse, salon, holed up north, cook dollar barn

Her first blog post is the story behind this perfect gift for your stylist.

In the summer, this is her other job– her “real” job…she is a caretaker and all-around handywoman. One of her clients says this about her OTHER business, Lawn, Home, & Garden:  “This company has taken care of my property, lawn care and then some, for quite awhile ! The quality of their work coupled with fair pricing is unparalleled. In addition to property maintenance, they also have a team of artisans who design and render the most beautiful art such as glorified bird houses, etc… not to be hung outside as they are the most treasured of interior decor! Great company!”

Her other job

But that’s just a few parts of Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy…we love her not just because of what she does, but also who she IS.

In her spare time? She is a firefighter. True story.

Firefighter

Her OTHER other job

Her OTHER other job involves driving this beauty. (We both have a thing for semi’s.)

Employee of the Month, Cook Dollar Barn, Holed Up North

She has even been Employee of the Month at The Barn! And she doesn’t even technically WORK here!!

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy worries about us because we don’t cook or eat very healthily. So she brings us a homemade, healthy, TASTY lunch every week (veggies cleverly camouflaged in bacon), and extra cookies at Christmas. For Inventory, she volunteers to count billions of tiny dollar store things and brings homemade BOOZE-FILLED CUPCAKES. (We get them for our birthdays, too!) I asked her to marry me for years, but she just laughed…which is good, because then I  found Mr. Wonderful.

She loves to be outside, creates beautiful art, is a volunteer firefighter, lives off the land, bakes, cooks, is deeply spiritual,  heats with wood, loves with words AND actions, and is an all-around Day Brightener. One of my life goals is to be as happy, joyous and free as Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy.

And we may never have gotten to know this wonderful lady if I hadn’t “ruined my sister’s life” by talking her into quitting her job with a Fortune 500 company and opening a dollar store in our home town of Cook, MN (pop. 574). Funny how things work out.

Now go say hi to Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy!! Please?

The Insincere “Sorry”


…costs $1 around here. It all started when I was late to work. No, to be honest, it probably started 37 years ago when Lois became Laura’s  Big Sister. Anyway, things came to a head when I was late. Every. Day. I kept telling my sister I was sorry.

She finally snapped, “That’s a lie! If you were really sorry, you would stop doing it. From now on I decree that every time you say you’re sorry, I will charge you $1.”

Do you know how many dollars that is in a day?? 


I didn’t, until I thought I would actually have to fork out for it. And I hate to say it, but she was right. This little game continues to haunt me.

“I’m sorry I lied to the credit union ladies about you not wearing underwear.”

“That’s a dollar!”

I said, “I’m sorry I said I wrote your number on the mens room wall. I didn’t really write it there– I just told a customer I did. They knew I was kidding!”

“Dollar!”

I tried again. “Shit. I’m sorry I told your husband that I would ‘have my sister sleep with’ him when he fixed my brakes and again when he  plowed my driveway? ”

“Nuh uh!! Lies!! Gimme a dollar!” she’d say.  (She doesn’t think it’s funny when I ask to borrow a dollar, either.)

For awhile, I got quite good at not apologizing, even when I was truly sorry. Or using a mental Thesaurus to say I was recalcitrant, apologetic, and woeful. But that felt like a loophole.

I used to  hack* her Facebook  all the time. I would think to myself, what would Lois say? Probably something like,

“I declare Laura the Employee of the Month! Take my credit card and get yourself a hammock and a slushy machine. And call the contractors to build you your own office!!”

“LAURA!!!” , she would type once she noticed she was still logged in and I gave myself a promotion. (When she uses ALL CAPS IT MEANS SHE’S YELLING. Not a good sign.)

“sorry, sissy. i love you.” (All lower-case means I am contrite. Sorta.)

“BULL!! DOLLAR!!”  (Do you know what apoplectic means? According to Wikipedia, “Colloquially, particularly in the adjective form apoplectic, apoplexy means furious, enraged, or upset to the point of being unable to deal with a situation rationally or diplomatically.” I usually try to stop myself before she becomes apoplectic. With mixed results.)

Anyway, the game hasn’t been a total waste. I have dramatically cut down on saying things I don’t mean.  Ok– marginally cut down. And I like to think it’s good mix of self-help and parenting, too–we all catch ourselves doing it. I hope it’s teaching The Boy to consider whether or not he truly wants to change his behavior, or just duck the consequences. It makes me more accountable, too. I am not always late. I am even early occasionally. Why? Because that’s one thing I AM sorry for.

However, I cleaned my room today, and found 4 dusty quarters. Tomorrow I will present them to my womb-mate just in case she doesn’t think I am sincere when I say, “I’m sorry that Amy P. tagged you in a picture on Facebook, and I told 700 of my closest FB friends that you gave her crabs. (Not to mention all 12 people that subscribe to the blog).”

crabs, cook dollar barn

Thank you, Lois Pajari of the Cook Dollar Barn, for your expertise and great customer service this afternoon! Caleb’s seashore diorama wouldn’t look this cool without you!!! (and Walli Pajari-Williams helped with the inspiration as well)

And hope she doesn’t hit me. 😀 Seriously, how could I have let an opportunity like this pass by?? That is worth a dollar. Hello, it’s priceless!! It’s right up there with the time someone Googled “Queen of Poo” and were led to the post about my sister and fertilizer.

I'm sorry

*It’s not really hacking if your loved one forgets they are logged in and walks away.

PS: Only a few days left in the year, and my bid for Employee of the Year is in serious jeopardy. Please vote for me here?? And as usual, if you found this post the slightest bit helpful, “like”, share or comment. Thanks! Loveyabye! 🙂

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