A vacant house caught the eye of Darlene Larson on a spring day.
Several months later, it became the home of a new business – started by her.
The business is Summer’s End, and Larson is in the midst of her first summer in King.
“I drove by one day, and I saw this brown building that had a ‘for sale’ sign on it and needed a new life,” she said of how she came to open the shop. “I called the Realtor, made an offer, and here I am.”
That was in May of 2012.
Summer’s End opened on Sept. 20, right at the end of summer.
Larson explained how she chose that for the name of her shop.
“Summer’s end is more of a feeling. To me, summer’s end is warm days, cool nights, that relaxed feeling,” she said. “Life slows down at the end of summer.”
Before Larson opened the shop at N2728 County Road QQ in King, she ripped out the carpeting inside the former residence and repainted the exterior a warm yellow and the interior walls a color which has hints of yellow and green.
The building is deceiving from the outside, she said.
Those who visit the shop are often surprised, after walking inside, how open and bright the space is. The brightness is due to the back wall of windows.
Larson said she always wanted to have a shop like this.
“It’s every woman’s dream,” she said. “I knew if I didn’t do it now, I would never do it.”
Prior to opening Summer’s End, Larson had a mail order engraving business.
She did that for about nine years.
Larson worked from home and found she missed being around people.
With her children grown, it was the right time for her to open the business.
Before she did so, Larson first visited the other local shops to make sure she would not be carrying the same items others were.
“What I carry in here reflects me – very casual, from rustic to refined,” she said. “It’s vintage, an eclectic look. When you put it all together and when you layer the look, it gives you a casual feeling.”
Setting up the displays was both fun and challenging for her.
Larson searched for old ladders and buffets and found many items at the Dane’s Home, in downtown Waupaca.
Summer’s End has home decor items, scarves, jewerly, gourmet food items, greeting cards, an infant and children area and the skin care line by Caren Original.
“I have had women bring in their paint samples. I help put things together for them,” Larson said.
Summer’s End is open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and has ample parking. She opened her shop for the season the end of April and will be open through Classic Christmas.
Then, Larson and her husband Eric will head north to Rice Lake, where they also have a home.
She has a presence on Facebook – Summers End LLC – and encourages her customers to “like” her store.
Larson is a member of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce; Waupaca, King & In Between; and the Chain O’ Lakes Business Association.
She enjoys being a part of the King business community.
“The store owners are great. We cut between the lawns and chat with each other. It’s really fun to be out here,” she said.
Larson listens to what her customers want.
“They want different,” she said. “They don’t want to go in every shop and see the same thing.”
Meeting people is her favorite part of the business, and Larson’s customers are from Waupaca, Wild Rose, Wautoma, the Fox Cities, Plover and Wisconsin Rapids.
“Some of my customers compare it (this area) to a mini Door County,” she said.