When Ingrid Lesley opened Ingeborg’s Cupboard Antiques and Collectibles more than a dozen years ago, she did so inside an old schoolhouse.
From there, she moved into the Dane’s Home in Waupaca’s downtown, starting with one space and eventually growing into two.
More moves followed – next to Dragonwings Bookstore, then across from Trinity Lutheran Church.
Several years ago, Lesley made what would be the fifth and final move when she began sharing space with Mike Boldt in the street-level portion of his building at 206 N. Main St.
Now, she is preparing to close Ingeborg’s Cupboard.
“I feel it’s time to close the shop. It’s time to say good bye to it. I want to change how I spend my time,” Lesley said. “I hope to be finished by the end of December.”
She is selling all her inventory, and there will be various price changes leading up to the closing of her store.
The idea to close came to her in August.
“I had a really good month,” she said.
Lesley said life is a series of choices.
After 13 years of being in business, she plans to reinvent herself. There will be more time for gardening, books and travel. She will do a bit of writing and continue studying French.
Lesley began studying the language about nine years ago, following the death of her husband Van.
Five years earlier, the couple had moved to the area. They had property here, and after they both retired, he said to her, “Let’s just try it.”
Before retiring, Lesley worked in the Chicago Public Library system. During the last of her years there, she was the division chief over all the collections in the humanities and in the special collections.
Her husband and her mother were among those who inspired her to work with antiques and collectibles.
“My mother was a collector of lovely porcelain. That always intrigued me,” Lesley said. “My husband always looked for fine lithographs of birds. I learned a lot about fine litographs through that. There’s excitement in having something and trying to figure out when it was made. You can unravel mysteries.”
Inside Ingeborg’s Cupboard, she did just that.
Lesley spent time learning the history of each object she came across.
Handwritten descriptions of what she learned are attached to the items in her shop.
“You don’t really make a living selling antiques and collectibles,” she said. “You do it for something else.”
Lesley never viewed what she did as work.
She was devoted to learning the history of each and every object.
The life stories she heard from those who visited Ingeborg’s Cupboard were also an interesting part of her work.
“I’ve learned what’s happened to some of these individuals, and they’ve given me updates,” she said. “The personal stories have meant a lot to me. When my husband passed away, I had to be a widow and have to reinvent myself. He was so beloved.”
Before her husband died of cancer, they had planned one final trip to France.
He told her to “learn the language this time.”
After his passing, Lesley decided to do what he had said.
She wanted to be able to speak, read and write in French and became a student again.
In the fall of 2003, she enrolled in French 101 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Since then, she has taken more than 20 courses, spending two days a week there.
Lesley audits the courses, saying, “I have two masters and an undergraduate degree. I don’t need another one.”
She discovered her passion for learning French. Each year, she visits France.
During the summer, she was at her shop five days a week, and in the fall, it was four days.
“That will be different,” Lesley said. “Part of what I’m looking forward to now is having calendar pages but having them be my own.”
Lesley’s family includes her daughter Kirsten, grandsons Adrian and Drew and dog Isabelle.
She sees Sheila Boon, Gloria Gruer and Cynthia Holly as being her role models and appreciates her customers, who are from throughout the country.
“I will, of course, stay connected. I want to thank all the folks who come and browse,” Lesley said. “I just feel like now is the right time.”