As they prepare to open for their fall market this weekend, The Crooked Queen will have more room to spread out with the opening of an additional building. The business, located at N1764 High Ridge Rd., east of Merrill, is only open a few weekends a year, but owners Nina Skic and Missy Cayley, Nina’s niece, aim to make those weekends special.
“We’ve always been into decorating and we like to shop,” Missy said. “We kicked around the idea of starting a business, so we decided to take a risk.”
Nina and Missy both have other full-time jobs, but spend a good deal of their free time collecting the items that make up their seasonal markets. The Crooked Queen is open a weekend in May for its Spring Market, then the Fall Market in September, followed by the Christmas Market in November and December.
The merchandise consists of new items, some antiques and plenty of things that the pair have repurposed, revitalized or recycled with an artistic flair.
“Many items are unique, one-of-a-kind things,” Missy noted.
The markets started in a building on the Skic property known as the chicken coop, which at one time did indeed serve as a chicken coop. The business then spread along a row of small buildings, taking over an old corn shed and then a garage.
Now that the markets are attracting as many as 200 shoppers, The Crooked Queen set its sights on the fourth building in the row, an old dirt-floored grain shed. Over the course of the summer, decades worth of junk has been removed, the resident varmints have been evicted and a rustic wooden floor installed. Family members were recruited to help with the extensive overhaul of the building, which still retains its rustic charm.
“A lot of family hands were called to task,” Missy added. “This really is a family business.”
Nine and Missy have been pleasantly surprised with the response to their markets, which have become a gathering place. To create the festive atmosphere, The Crooked Queen always offers free refreshments. Live entertainment will be provided this weekend by local acoustic duo, Winchester, playing on the back porch of the nearby Skic residence.
“Friends meet here, families meet here and it’s really a camaradarie,” Missy said.
Every market has attracted a larger crowd than the one before. The additional building will make it easier for shoppers to see everything. There is no back stock at The Crooked Queen – everything they have to offer will be on display, first come first served. That’s part of the markets’ charm.
“It’s the excitement of the market,” Nina added. “Everybody rushes to get here.”
The pair go to great lengths to acquire some of the items that become part of the market.
“Every single piece of this has a story to it,” Nina said.
The Crooked Queen Fall Market runs Friday from 4-7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.