Jane Tremaine runs the WeatherVane gift shop from her home
— Pulling up to the Weather-Vane gift shop will surely throw a
first-time visitor for a loop.
first glance, the shop doesn’t look like an actual business at
all. Without a sign down the road informing visitors of its
location, one would have a difficult time finding it. But once
visitors step inside the gift shop, run from within owner Jane
Tremaine’s home, they are greeted by a hidden trove of European
goods, gathered from all over the Continent.
says the shop was named after the well-known figure of a
weathervane, because it can point to any direction. It symbolizes
the different directions all around the world that her products
arrive from. This year, the WeatherVane opened for its 40th
daughter always asks me how we stay in business out in the middle
of a cornfield selling mostly things people don’t need,” said
Tremaine. “If you sell things people can’t find anywhere else,
people will come and seek you out. It’s a destination.”
Ceramics from Poland,
Scandinavia and Estonia are especially popular gifts at the
WeatherVane first opened in 1977. The shop was originally run from
an attached garage on the property. It was more of a craft shop at
first. Every year, for 25 years, Tremaine and her husband would
travel to Nova Scotia and bring back handmade crafts. As the shop
expanded, so did the inventory. An additional room was built to
expand the store. After her husband retired from teaching and
found a second job, Tremaine began to look into traveling to other
had taught social studies, so he wanted to see the countries he
had spoken about and taught about,” said Tremaine.
the same time, Tremaine’s daughter was living in Germany. In
1990, she was one of the first people to travel to small villages
in the eastern part of the country after the Berlin Wall came
down. Since 1991, Tremaine and her husband have gone back to
Germany yearly to buy handmade goods from the craftsmen. The focus
at WeatherVane is mainly on German goods, but gifts from Poland,
Russia, Scandinavia, Estonia and even Africa can be found.
main thing that people come out here for now is Polish pottery,”
said Tremaine. “We probably sell
the most Polish pottery of any shop in Wisconsin.”
German smokers sell like
hotcakes when the holiday season arrives. Here, Jane
Tremaine prepares to strike a match and light a stick of
incense to place inside the smoker.
busy holidays, word of mouth
year, the Tremaines travel to Europe to order special gifts that
are later exported. They keep the inventory of products in a
stockroom downstairs in their home. The busiest time of the year
for the WeatherVane is the holidays. Last year, around 300 German
smokers were imported just for the season. A large inventory of
nutcrackers, hand-painted Santas and Wendt & Kuhn Collectibles
is necessary to keep up with the high demand.
probably do 90 percent of our business in December,” said
lot of business at WeatherVane comes through word of mouth.
Tremaine says that almost everyone who visits comes from out of
town, looking for a special place to visit on a day trip. Her
children still travel from all around the country to help her run
booths during the store’s busy season.
Nutcrackers are also highly sought when the holiday season
have no retirement plan and we should because we’re at the age
now where we can’t do it forever,” said Tremaine. “When
we’re finished, our children could still probably handle the
inventory and the website.” For now, Tremaine jokes that
she’ll keep on buying things for WeatherVane, regardless of her
children’s wishes that she slow down her pace.
more information on the WeatherVane girt shop, 8233 Pennsylvania
St., visit www.weather-vane.com.