Old Farmers Mercantile
Mary and L.J. Stehberger were on their way to Spooner, Wisconsin from their home in Osseo, Wisconsin because they were looking for a new home a little further “Up North”. The route they had chosen took them through Dallas, Wisconsin where they spotted a large brick building right on the main street in the center of town. The sign outside advertised “Antiques” and they went in because Mary wanted to look at the antiques; but L.J. wanted to look at the building.
The “stop-to-look” led to a complete tour of the building from top to bottom. The building had originally been home to one of the “Farmers Store Company” stores. It was built in 1919, sold to Axel Jorstad in 1941, and had since been owned by three generations of the Jorstad family. At one time the building also housed the first local telephone system in a separate area on the second floor.
Mary and L.J. were impressed and said so several times. Towards the end of the tour the owners, John and Betty Jorstad, told them that they had recently closed the grocery part of the business and that Betty was selling antiques and John sold firearms and, ”…the place was for sale.”
Jumping back in history, L.J. grew up in the Milwaukee area, but his parents owned a small resort on Lake Amacoy southwest of Bruce, Wisconsin. He traveled “Up North” every weekend during the summer, nurturing his love of “Up North”. At various times during his life he worked for Harley Davidson, then became a Harley dealer; he apprenticed with a well-known clock repairman in Milwaukee and did trade work for jewelry shops; and he worked for Milwaukee Auction Gallery and had an antiques shop offering clock repair in West Bend, Wisconsin. He has collected “stuff” all his life and he felt he would have more than enough inventory to “fill the shelves of this old store for a long time!”
Mary grew up on a farm next to the resort on Lake Amacoy and then continued to farm while she opened and operated a “hand-made items” shop and a pumpkin patch at Exeland, Wisconsin. Later on she got a job at “Something Old and Something New” in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she learned many skills for creating one-of-a-kind items. Mary felt she could easily keep enough antiques, collectibles and, homemade items on hand to “fill the shelves of this old store for a long time!”
Fast forward again to that first trip through Dallas: L.J. and Mary talked it over, came back to the Jorstads with an offer and bought the store! They decided to name their business Old Farmers Mercantile. Their goal was to have for sale, “A little bit of everything you might need – (with the exception of groceries) – like the original mercantile stores.”
Today at Old Farmers Mercantile you’ll find antiques – from beautiful glassware and light fixtures to dusty, rusty farm stuff – and a little bit of everything in between.
Mary keeps a great variety of old and retro stuff like Mom and Grandma had, but she also has some “newer” collectibles – like Campbell’s Soup, M&M’s, Coca Cola, and Pillsbury. There’s beautiful vintage and retro clothing, hats and shoes that are great for plays or just fun costumes as well as useful kitchen and household items. Her collection of over 100 vintage flour sifters (no two exactly alike) is worth a look!
L.J. has an amazing clock collection part of which is displayed all around the store. He has lamp parts, chimneys, wicks and a smattering of hardware such as would have been offered in the original store. In one of the display cases you can see the Harley hat he has from his early days as an experimental road tester (Note: It’s not for sale!) and occasionally he’ll take those interested to one of their nearby warehouses to show off his collection of over 100 old tractors.
Old Farmers Mercantile is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm. Their hours vary Monday through Thursday and they suggest that you call ahead to check (715) 837-1919. In the winter, the store is heated mainly with solar heat, so “Sunny days are best!”
Old Farmers Mercantile, with its original tin ceilings and the old Farmer Store shelving contains numerous old memories. Along with the many items for sale there are museum type displays that will recall days gone by and evoke images of an earlier, simpler time. L.J. and Mary invite you to stop by and share a memory or two over a cup of coffee or cider and a home-made cookie in season.
Old Farmers Mercantile
(Historic Farmers Store on Main Street)
115 Dallas Street West
Dallas, WI 54733
~ OPEN ~
Friday & Saturday: 9am - 5pm
Monday – Thursday: Call For Availability!