Sunflower Sisters Vintage…where do I begin?
I hadn’t heard of this vintage/re-purpose store until I was handed one of their business cards over at Sis’ Sweets. I am so glad I heeded their recommendation and drove over. I’m not sure I have the correct door, but I open it anyway and walk right into a room of bright blossoming sunflowers (my favorite), and am greeted by Carol, one of the 3 sisters and owners.
After introducing myself, Carol asks that I cover my ears as she hollers across the warehouse for her sister, Connie, to join us. I already like her. I come from a loud vibrant family and grew up with two younger sisters myself. As we wait for Connie to meet us, Carol tells me they’ve been in business for 5 years, sharing the location with a plumbing wholesale store that’s occupied the space for the past 32 years. Connie introduces herself and remembers their start date, March 13th, to be exact. She explains that the structure was built in 1879 and became home to the Great Western Store Manufacturing Company and later C & H Supply, a plumbing wholesale store.
Connie and Carol are both retired teachers and Connie and her husband Rick (both life-long residents of Leavenworth) opened shop before Connie’s sisters, Carol and Vickie joined the fun. Five expansions later, they have treasures spread across 3,000 square feet. There is such great history in this building! Carol eagerly shares how it was once home to pot belly stoves and wood burning cooks, as well as tank turrets for WWII and hems (aka punch tools) for the railroad a block away. Her excitement about the building’s history, coupled with her passion for re-purposing furniture, is contagious and it doesn’t take much to get us going. She really enjoys her work and finding exactly what folks are searching for. She tells me the sisters pride themselves on making items “low cost, so that people can find treasures AND take them home.”
At some point in our conversation, I identify myself as a military spouse and learn that I’m not alone in the room. Carol’s husband is a Vietnam War veteran and she nods as I explain how hard moving to new places can be and chat about my desire to help newcomers feel more at home here. Perhaps it was her subtle milspouse nod or the way her eyes filled with compassion…my voice cracks and my eye lids sweat for a split second. Phew, glad I held it together—motherhood has had this odd effect on my eyeballs–that was a close one! I decide to tour the building, while Carol has grabbed a seat and started sanding a whatnot shelf. Friends, as I journey through the doors to the warehouse, I feel like I’ve just stepped into Narnia. I have the whole place to myself and every step is a new find! I explore deeper into this vintage forest, trinkets and upcycled gems grabbing my attention, when I hear her.
From the other side of the wall, I can hear Connie going about her business singing and humming to herself joyfully. I giggle to myself, because in my giddiness the tone of her song reminds me of Cinderella’s Fairy God Mothers. I feel like a child in awe in this store, where I also kind of feel at home. See, when you’re far away from your tribe–your people, connecting with others is like chicken soup for the milspouse soul. Individuals like those of this friendly family remind me of those I love and miss back home. My gosh do I miss my sisters making fun of me for x, y, z in this very moment. I miss my grandmas and the warm fuzzies that I get when I’m with them. My parents…nope, can’t go there. I finish taking pics and walk back through the closet door into reality.
Carol is waiting for me and hands me a beautiful sunflower bag for my new 5B&Co sunflower candle and a little Kansas home décor to remind us of this short season of our military adventure. She also throws in a couple of girl scout cookies. Earlier she joked that Connie always has surprises like this for customers—I love it! On my way out, I spot more sunflowers and Carol explains her sister Vickie made them. She does needle points and embroideries for the shop and I’m bummed I missed meeting her. If the 3 sisters are anything like my sisters and I, you don’t quite get the full effect of our sisterhood unless sister #3 is present 😊
As I wrap up this blog post, I’m talking my husband’s ear off about these sisters and how awesome I thought they were. I’m reminded of Connie’s words: “We like to give our customers an experience.” An experience indeed! What a fun visit. I see a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law junking date in my near future.
For my Fort Leavenworth military families, the sisters do ship! Here is a link to their Facebook page. Check them out!
I hope you all enjoy some quality time and hugs this weekend with those you love!