Once Upon a Monkey Farm

Brandon and I have fond memories from our childhood that have shaped our journey to where we are now. Certainly years ago, we never would have imagined a monkey business. Somehow along the way we have become old house lovers, historic building restorers, real ­­estate gurus and resident monkey business owners. We will soon add farm owners to our list.

For six years we have been moving at warp speed as our business has been growing rapidly, causing us to pause and realize we have been overlooking the simple pleasures and things that shaped us; but also the things we want our kids, Blaise and Olivia, to experience.

This amazing journey of small business has come with its share of big sacrifices. Looking back Brandon and I have contemplated a simpler time in our lives where we had more time to spend with the family and enjoy, well, doing less. In fact, we often reflect on the few times we were able to accompany grandpa together to Aitkin, Minnesota. He had a summer cottage there that had been in the family for over three generations.  It was always grandpa’s plan to keep in the family, but sadly it was sold four years ago.

When Brandon and I had the chance to go with grandpa, the drive wasn’t for the faint of heart. We would make the long 15 hour haul to the back, dirt roads of northern Minnesota. The car rides were rich with life lessons and discussions about things that didn’t cost a dime. There were strategic stops at hole-in-the-wall diners that served up the best pie you would ever eat. And, the cellular service was touch-and-go at best.

To get there, we would pass through the smallest little town of Aitkin with the world’s best bakery and a nostalgic A&W root beer stand.  After stocking up on fresh-made bread and donuts for the week, we would make our way to the cottage. Just out of town, we would merge to a dirt road and along winding countryside where wild rice patties grew and farms lined the roads. As the dust cloud settled when we rounded the final bend, grandpa would get out of the car and walk up to the gate that kept the cottage safe when we were away. Above it for years was a sign my great grandparents painted that read “Journey’s End.” And just about that time he got out of the car, gramps would say “Well, we’ve reached the Journey’s End” metaphorically and literally after that drive, it was a welcome sight. Some called it a shanty, we loved the quiet of no internet connection, cell service or even TV reception. Simple.

A lot of people have asked where we are going because in a small town, the “for sale” sign in the front yard is hard to hide. It should really be no surprise that we are on an ever-changing journey. We bought a farm nestled 20 minutes south of Franklin not far from our current store. Our sweet little version of a farm will be planting roots in October moving the family home just far enough off the beaten path to hear ourselves think. It’s name should be no surprise; affectionately named Journey’s End after grandpa’s cottage.

But for now, we are busy elfing and ramping up for the fall and holiday seasons as usual. Because ya’ll know the holidays at the Monkey are oh-so-fun.

We are also developing our new website, and we are super excited to share it with you. It will be fresh like our tomatoes from the farm, with new content and products updated every week showcasing what we are up to on the farm, recipes you can borrow, DIY how-to’s and serve as virtual community where home, health and happiness meet. So, tune in online and visit us in the store to get the latest news. Lord knows, we aren’t finished.

With much monkey love,

Brandon, Nicole, Blaise & Olivia



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