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Sisters-in-law bring new life to DeBuhr's hardware store

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 03/28/2013 8:57 PM

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ELLSWORTH, Minn. — Sisters-in-law Barb Reiter and Betty Sherwood have brought new life to a historic building in Ellsworth.

It has always been their dream to have their own store, but marriage, children and off-farm jobs left little time to pursue their dream to open a store.

Kanaranzi Creek became reality on a wintry December day when Barb's brother and Betty's brother-in-law provided the opportunity.

"Girls, you are never going to guess what I just did,'' Larry Sherwood said. "I bought the old hardware store in Ellsworth, and I am not sure what I am going to do with it."

They knew the landmark store from their youths.

It had hardwood flooring and a ceiling sheltered by a tin tiles. A two-ton safe, which was moved by horse and bobsled from Beaver Creek in 1895, remains along with the rustic counter where Calvin DeBuhr transacted business.

The time had come for their store. The store would occasionally be open to the public to buy a capricious collection of items. Some are new, some are used and a few are antiques -- whimsical or practical.

The name Kanaranzi Creek was an obvious choice.

"We grew up along this creek, and it meanders through our farms," said Sherwood. "The creek is a part of our lives."

Both women take delight in repurposing items. Their handcrafting skills lend new life to an odd-shaped board or crib end.

"We like to decorate," said Sherwood. "We often take something plain or everyday, dress it up a bit and show it with a new life."

Decor is their specialty. It's a challenge to find the right something for everyone, said Reiter.

The shelves that once held paint cans, nuts and bolts now contain more delicate items. Two other women bring in larger furniture to complement the accent pieces, books and one-of-a-kind items.

"We never throw anything away," said Reiter. "Who knows when that hinge might be useful."

They acquire treasures from estates or road trips.

"For years I have sat at cattle shows beside my husband," said Sherwood. "And I did enjoy myself there and still do. But now we have added a new dimension to our lives -- stopping at antique stores. That's enjoyable, too."

It sparks new life in this southwestern Minnesota town. Other businesses benefit by the added traffic through town. Main street is once again the center of life on those days.

Beginning their second year, Kanaranzi Creek will open for five Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in March, May, July, September and November.