HIGHLAND | Primitive Peddler guests truly take a step back in time — walking on wooden floors that have been part of the building since the 1920s.
“You are walking back into another era, a simpler time,” said Amy Siebenhaar, who owns the store with her mother, Mary Ellis.
The shop’s antique reproductions are at home in the former grocery store that dates back to 1926. The mix of offerings includes primitive-style home décor, candles, scarves, jewelry as well as a few antiques sprinkled in along with an 1893 wagon as the store’s centerpiece.
“We have a lot of things that are very unique: an old medicine cabinet and my countertop itself is made from a barn. We have a few older pieces. Everything in here is for sale,” Ellis said. “We change the store with the season. Our variety is changing and growing every day.”
The history of Highland graces a wall in the store, incorporating the past with the present.
“We take people back in time — that’s what we are all about. One whole wall is nothing but the history of Highland,” Ellis said. “Many of our young teens don’t understand the history of our town. We went to the historical society and said, 'Let’s bring the past back and show where we have been and where we are going.'”
The first-time business owners were both considering launching an entrepreneurial effort: Siebenhaar was eyeing a scrapbook store and Ellis was focused on the primitive arena. They decided to work together and are maintaining their full-time jobs while building the business.
“This has been my dream. This is how we both decorate — this is what our houses look like,” Ellis said. “You have to have a passion for what you are doing if you want to succeed and bring a community back to life. Communities need (local) people running their businesses.”
Siebenhaar said communication is an important aspect of the business side of their mother-and-daughter relationship.
“We were close to begin with,” Ellis added. “Where one is strong the other is weak and where one is weak the other is strong. When we combine her taste with mine, we have a balance and can reach a variety of people from her age to mine.”
Customers are also a guide to what the pair offers in the store.
“We have people who give suggestions on what they would like to see in the store and we take note. When we went to the Merchandise Mart (in Chicago), we knew what people were looking for,” Siebenhaar said. “In the next three to five years, we look to open a second location or take this location and expand it out.”