When the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic became evident last spring, Jenny & Company of Walker, along with many other businesses statewide, complied with “Stay Home” orders and closed their doors.
It wasn’t easy and certainly wasn’t what they’d envisioned for 2020, but Rich and Krista Hansen, who own Jenny & Company, got through it.
“COVID required us, like everyone else, to change some of our procedures and be closed for nine weeks, which was very difficult,” the Hansens reflected recently.
“However, it has also brought new customers, people who may have vacationed elsewhere in the past” — but this year were giving the Leech Lake area a try.
Jenny & Company is a kitchenware, kitchen gadget, gourmet food and gift store, known for its quality products and fair prices. Offering a range of cookware, bakeware, barware, kitchen gadgets and specialized tools, the goal is to “make your time in the kitchen easier, safer, more productive and fun!”
The Hansens bought Jenny & Company of Walker in April 2010 from former owners, who opened here in 2002 and also had a Grand Rapids store that later closed.
Customers represent the whole spectrum of shoppers, from people on vacation for a week or two, looking for gifts; to seasonal residents who need to upgrade their toaster or coffee maker at their lake home; to local residents who just need a better vegetable peeler or paring knife.
Jenny & Company carries the Cuisinart line of consumer kitchen electronics because of its industry-leading quality and warranty. In addition to kitchenwares and gadgets there are gift items such as Nora Fleming serving pieces, the Mud Pie line of serve ware and eclectic gifts, Gurgle Pots, and a diverse selection of greeting cards.
For the younger set the store has an extensive line of kids’ toys and activities. as well as the Maruca line of handmade and American made purses.
The Hansens are happy to special order most of the items they stock, as well as many others not typically found in the store.
The Cheese Knife (yes, that’s the official name), is by any measure, Jenny and Company’s most popular item, followed by nylon scrubbies. OXO kitchen gadgets also sell extremely well — to the extent that the firm that manufactures them (Helen of Troy) has honored Jenny and Company with their ”Platinum Peeler” designation.
New, and sure to be a hit, is a line of handmade, made in Minnesota, beautiful maple rolling pins — perfect for use with the store’s line of Scandinavian lefse tools. There’s also coffee roasted fresh in Minnesota, and dozens of flavors of tea.
And speaking of unique — Jenny and Company is the only retail outlet for “Grill Happy Seasoning,” which is used on the iconic “Pork Chop on a Stick” at the Minnesota State Fair!
When deciding what to add to the store’s inventory, the Hansens try to find the most recent additions to kitchen tools, and things that will be unique to the store.
“If an item is useful and fairly priced, we will bring it in. That being said, we will also try out new things based on customer recommendation and/or product representative suggestions.”
Because COVID-19 restrictions caused many manufacturers to suspend production in 2020, and with almost all of this year’s buying markets canceled, very few new kitchen products were released in 2020.
As a result, the Hansens expect a large backlog of new and innovative products to be available for the 2021 season — something that customers can definitely look forward to!
Jenny & Company, (218) 547-1888, is located at the corner of Fifth Street Minnesota Avenue in downtown Walker and is open seven days a week, year-round. Winter hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.