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  • History of Lena and Ole’s Gifts
  • History of Lena and Ole’s Gifts

    You may be wondering how Lena and Ole's Gifts and the Troll Haus came about (even if you weren't wondering I'm going to tell you!). Ole (Lane) and I (Julie) retired from education June 2002. We sold our home on Lake Michigan north of Port Washington, Wisconsin.  in August, we moved all our belongings to a new large shed we had built on our new 70 acres, just south of Wilson, Wisconsin (about half way between Menomonie and Hudson). We took up residence in our new 5th wheel RV on the land! You see Ole's "dream" was to raise sweet corn and pumpkins!  I just wanted to read and to sit for a while. In September, we traveled west all the way to British Columbia, California, and settled for the winter in Arizona. When we returned north in April, I started to get a little restless. After visiting Syttende Mai (the 17th of May or the Norwegian "4th of July") in Woodville in May , I got a "bolt of lighting idea" — this very Norwegian community did not have a Scandinavian store, so perhaps I should start one.  Well, Ole's response was  "I thought you wanted to raise flowers". I wasn't deterred so in typical Norwegian (stubborn) fashion I was off!  I attended a workshop on starting your own business, began trying to find the sources for Scandinavian merchandise, found a building on Woodville's Main street, found a remodeler, did lots of painting and other work (with Ole's help), found store fixtures at stores that were closing, and bought lots of wonderful merchandise.   One of the big decisions was what to call the store! I found that my first choice, Scandinavian Specialties, was taken in St. Croix County, ironically by now one of my favorite wholesalers.  So then I decided on "Lena and Ole's Gifts" — after the favorite jokes told by so many people! I contacted my artist cousin, Howard Sherpe, and asked if he would create our mutual grandparents, my mother's parents (now all deceased) in a design I could use on the store and our advertising. He created my grandma (actually named Julia who came from Norway at the age of 14) and my grandpa (actually Oscar) in their most typical poses: she in her apron and with her rolling pin baking up some Norwegian treat and he with his pitch fork working on his little farm south of Westby. Note:  Julia's mother was named Lene (my great-grandmother) and I had a grandpa on my Dad’s side named Ole Olson — it was still all in the family. So after a great deal of hard work, the "brainstorm was a reality and we opened for business on November 1, 2003 less than 6 months later!! (Oh, by the way, we also had a new house built during the same time and we moved into it from our 5th wheel during Thanksgiving 2003  after we froze out of the RV). Summer of 2004, with Ole's encouragement and hard work of some remodeling, we opened the Troll Haus in the lower level of Lena and Ole's Gifts.  We’ve decided to close the Troll Haus to over-night guests but used it as needed for additional shopping space and for a place for you to sit and relax while your gifts were wrapped. It allowed us to stock and display so many more unique items for your shopping pleasure.

    Now, Lena and Ole’s Gifts is “on the road”, usually in our RV or our van. We will keep in touch with you through Lena’s log as we travel across the country, doing Scandinavian shows and some additional nonScandinavian shows while enjoying this beautiful country. If you need a particular product or have a question, just e-mail or call me. Thanks to all of you that became our customers and FRIENDS — we will miss seeing you in Woodville but we will see you somewhere in the USA!

    Comments (2) 4:19 am |


    1. Well Lena and Ole…. you have done a simply marvelous job of offering Norwegian hospitality along with an array of wonderful gifts and ideas without stressing my checkbook. You know how much I have loved to shop in your quaint and cozy rooms and as a result my husbands family (being Danish and Norwegian and Irish) have enjoyed all your many items as well. They have even shopped some with you, flying in from TX to do so.

      You have made it just that much easier to embrace our heritage with new traditional items and special gifts to one another. Oh, and the in-laws have enjoyed utilizing the Troll Hause as their little home when they come to visit. They live 4 hours away so their grandchildren (my children) don’t have the customary relationship of being able to play at grandma and grandpas or to bake cookies or play table games on impulse. When they are at the Troll Hause that all gets to happen and after they leave to go home the kids will often say (as we drive down mainstreet) “hey there is Grandma and Grandpas other house”. The cozy Troll Hause is a treat.

      So, it is here I/we wish you many holidays and years of continued success and will invite all those reading this that harbor an adventurous spirit to take an impulisve road trip and make a stop at Lena’s and Oles, even if to just browse and potentially go home with a box of Ginger cookies and one of Lena’s free recipes for cookie dip (Yum!). Blessings to you always. Tamara! and family

      Comment by Tamara — October 27, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

    2. Hi Tamara — thanks so much for the wonderful comments. Looking forward to seeing you and your family again soon.

      Lena & Ole

      Comment by Julie — October 27, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

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