Our Story: A Family Tradition
Our whole story starts back in the 1970s when our mom, Gail, started making Colonial Americana folk art Apple Head Dolls. Just as they sound, the dolls had dried carved apples for heads. She, with our dad Chris, would travel to art fairs and festivals around the area, setting up a cute booth, usually camping overnight, and selling lots and lots of apple head dolls.
Mom met lots of local artists and craftspeople during this time and decided to get everyone together twice a year for a boutique at her home. On the opening days of the Calico & Gingham Boutique, there were people lined up (sometimes in the cold) down the long driveway. The boutique grew to be so popular that eventually the idea for the General Store was born!
In 1984, Gail started the General Store of Minnetonka. Our dad, Chris, joined the business soon after, and so did we, their three children! We have so many great memories of helping out at the store and café when we were young, from playing in the office to busing tables, from helping build displays to stocking the shelves and working as cashiers.
The General Store has always been a focal point of our lives, as we have been able to work with and share so many good memories with our parents, aunts, cousins and even our grandmother, Gloria, who always had a smile on her face and a quick-witted joke for customers while serving as a greeter. We truly cherish this unique family bond.
The original part of our building was designed and built in 1977 by our mom’s brother, Tom. Our grandfather, Phil, was also part of the construction crew that built the structure -- originally a garden store -- that would become the General Store. We like to say the building was “green” before "green" was a thing. It was built from reclaimed materials from sites across the Twin Cities. The cobblestones were recycled from streets in Minneapolis and the timbers came from an old warehouse in Minneapolis. Our grandfather, who did all of the boulder work, hand-picked the stones from local fields. With its unique design, reclaimed materials, and the craftsmanship of our loved ones, our building is very special to all of us and is a reminder of what operating a family-run business is all about. While the original 9,000-square-foot structure remains intact, in 2000 we built an addition that more than doubled our space and added a café, creating the shopping wonderland that continues to delight our customers.
While our building has evolved over the years, so has our endless array of gifts and goods. When the store opened in 1984, it was filled exclusively with the designs and creations of local artists. We are very proud to continue this tradition as we evolve our mix of gifts and goods in order to provide our customers with the most-unique shopping experience possible.
In bygone eras, general stores were a vital aspect of local communities everywhere, as they not only provided neighbors with a variety of essential goods but also served as local gathering places. At the General Store of Minnetonka, we take pride in always doing our best to provide our customers with this same type of community spirit and old-fashioned customer service, while welcoming people from both near and far.
We invite you to visit us soon and discover the joy of shopping!
Jenny, Christopher and Matt