Wal-Mart offers convenience and low, low prices, but I shudder every time I step into one of their stores.
Same, same sameness overwhelms me as much as the Wal-Mart greeter and the harsh overhead lighting.
But as we meandered across southwestern Wisconsin last week, we stopped at the sort of little store that sets my heart a flutter and gives me hope in a Wal-Mart world.
The Ottervale General Store, a darling restored 1890s mercantile near La Farge, Wis., is tucked a half mile off the main road and nestled in a forest. Run by Kickapoo Valley Heritage Art & Tours, it’s dedicated to educating “about the Amish, round barns and history of the beautiful Kickapoo Valley and Ocooch Mountains.” Despite emphasizing all that is low-tech, they have a nice little Facebook fan page here where you can see pictures of the outside and inside.
It’s filled with locally handcrafted goods including foods, jewelry and a rack of beautiful Amish rugs that drew me to it the instant I stepped inside.
I indulged in three of these unique and, I’m told, durable floor coverings to replace the rugs in our kitchen, which became passé when repainted earlier this year.
And Wal-Mart shoppers might be surprised by the low, low prices on these rugs: I paid $18.49, $21 and $26 for these handmade originals. And just like you might expect from such a homespun storefront, we got free advice on local sightseeing and lodging.
Despite the remote location of the Ottervale General Store, it’s worth a stop if you’re in the area. Enjoy the journey.