Strolling through Grand Marais last week, my dear friend Dawn and I were enjoying the welcoming mini-city sights, Superior sounds of the lake’s waves & winds and pretty snowflakes fluttering about. I was excited to pop in to Picnic & Pine, a Minn-spiring storefront on Wisconsin Avenue—it just doesn’t get much more North Shore-friendly! I had met Kelsey, the co-owner, on Facebook a while ago. And she kindly agreed to share a bit about Picnic & Pine, a retail store bursting with cute, clever and cuddly North Shore décor and more. Hope you enjoy this post highlighting an outstanding local shop that is mother-daughter created, owned and operated. Be sure to stop in next time you’re poking around Grand Marais!
How did you come up with the name for your storefront?
I was hoping for name that would remind people of visits to the North Woods/North Shore. I reached out via FB to my friends group and asked for suggestions. I also already had a few names brewing. When it was time to make the final decision Picnic & Pine just sounded right. Plus with the short notice of starting the store, we were able to use my engagement photos by Jess Oullis, Oullis Photography (which included a picnic scene surrounded in tall pines) for our signage.
How about the exterior design, with the festive colors – very eye catching!
When we moved into the building in May 2016 we happily made the most of what the store had been before (Northern Lights Bar and the Attic, a gift store) in addition to making our own tweaks to represent who we are. First we focused on the inside, hoping to open up the interior by painting many things white; we also picked out light birch displays, removed the cottage window design, changed the lighting, and moved the register area to the middle of the store. On the exterior we added our signage plus a colorful mix of flowers, herbs and strawberry plants into the front planters. Because we had a bit more time to prep for the 2017 season we freshened up the outside of the building by repainting with pops of color. My favorite color is red and it goes so perfectly well with the Picnic logo, and we paired it with a vibrant teal.
This is a mother-daughter owned business, correct?
That is correct! Though my mother always talks about retirement and is baby-sitting several days a week, she’s often at the store changing a display, chatting with customers, training in a new staff person or picking up recycling.
What do you enjoy most about being a small business owner in America’s Coolest Small Town?
There is a lot to love! We are blessed to have visitors from all over the world that stop in our little store. It is such a joy to meet our customers and chat about everything from where they are from to our favorite places to eat or giving directions. I also love being part of the memories they are creating while visiting Grand Marais. Picnic & Pine is a shop filled with so many of my favorite things it is a treat to be able to share these items with our customers and have them feel the love as well. I love the saying, “When you buy from a small business (especially a family owned small business) a real live actual person does a happy dance”. It is so very true.
What are some of your favorite gift items that you sell at P & P?
Our light weight and cozy hoodies have to be at the top of my favorite things lists! When we are buying clothes for Picnic & Pine I make a point to feel the materials. I am picky! If it is itchy or isn’t the softest that it can be isn’t welcome at our store. So you will notice that all our hoodies and t-shirts are extra soft! The designs we have on our hoodies are all custom designed with MN Love and the north woods/north shore in mind which I think makes them extra special! They are the perfect campfire and Spring/Summer/Fall hoodie. If you see me out and about (or at the store) it is very likely you will see me wearing one of our hoodies!
Our candles! We carry three lines of candles and they each are so unique in their own right! We have Woodfire made in Duluth which have wood wicks and very specifically north woods scents my favorite being either Campfire or Sweater Weather. We have Milkhouse soy candles that have been a fan favorite at Picnic & Pine. People come back year after year to get their Milkhouse candles! My favorite is either Peppermint Pine or Rhubarb Strawberry.
We carry Mixture which is shot glass scents…that are true to nature, Lilac and Siberian Pine being my favorites! We also now also have Picnic & Pine matches to go with our candles. We get asked daily what the wonderful smell is when people walk in the door…it is the awesome mix of North Woods candles!
Then, there’s home decor. Metal Canvas Wall art that is both affordable and with personality, wood maps of Lake Superior, bowls from Turkey and lamps with Edison light bulbs. We feature kitchen goods ranging from beautiful detailed wooden trivets to mugs with gnomes, bouncies from Bohemia, pillows that show our MN pride, quirky North Woods animal clocks, and the coziest of blankets (I have Picnic & Pine blankets on all of the beds of my house).
Also as someone that became an aunt the year that our store opened (and my mother a Grandmother) and now a mother to our little Bea who was born this fall, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our baby onsies!
They are the cutest…with a lot of North Shore and North Woods themes. It’s fun to watch friends, grandparents, new parents, aunties and uncles pick out onsies for the babies in their lives!
What’s the best way to get in touch and to see what’s new & exciting?
Please tell us a little bit about you, Kelsey, and your North Shore roots.
I am blessed to have been raised in Grand Marais, MN where so many of the downtown business were owned by women. Women that seemed to be able to do it all. Start business with very little money, give back to their community, raise families, and run a successful business! Very inspiring! This was especially prevalent in my life as my mom owned Beth’s Fudge and Gifts (started by my mom Beth in the early 80’s as Village on the Bay, a building that was filled with small mostly women owned stores-including the Inchworm, a used kids clothing store, as well as Beth’s Sweet Creations that my mother owned, an antique store my grandmother owned)…so I spent my childhood playing out back of the store and was working in Beth’s Fudge and Gifts as soon as I was of age.
In 2011, I moved back to Grand Marais after spending many years working in the field of higher education in the Twin Cities. In addition to working at our version of a Community College in Cook County, I partnered with my mother on Birchbark Books and Gifts (a store she started in the 90’s) in Grand Marais. When the opportunity arose to start a new business together we seized the day! We had a very quick turn around time to make the decision and get the store started for the season. The building was purchased in the beginning of May 2016 and the store was open by Memorial Day weekend. Lots of late nights and long days to make it all come together.
My mother has a great background of business knowledge that she generously contributes to Picnic & Pine, and I have really been able to personalize the feeling of Picnic & Pine to focus on the things I love and want to share with visitors on the shore! If you follow Picnic & Pine on Instagram or Facebook you will often see snip-its of my every day life included in the photos…my husband Peter, our dog Rita, our new little darling daughter Bea and the adventures we take.
P.S. Kelsey and her mom Beth support pay it forward by donating their time and good energy to many local organizations and causes. Beth is a volunteer at Ruby’s Pantry that helps bring and distribute corporate surplus food and goods to help fight poverty, hunger, and disease in rural communities. They dynamic duo has helped coordinate Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for programs that help those that are facing hunger in Cook County, and they volunteer on several non-profit boards.
Home Décor and More featuring Grand Marais’ Picnic & Pine was first published on From Lutsen with Love on November 4, 2017. I was not compensated for this post; all thoughts are my own. The thoughtful answers to my questions and three photos are courtesy of Kelsey Kennedy.
My beautiful friend Dawner (right) and me 🙂