Made local, sold local: Handmade business marks one year

This piece is presented by the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association.

Kyle and Stacy Wengler can create nearly anything – from woodwork to metal art to hand-sewn apparel.

They have spent much of the past year, though, building a business in Hartford.

Their store, Knotty Gnome Variety & Salvage, marks its one-year anniversary next month.

“We liked the idea of not doing the same thing every day,” Kyle said. “There’s change in our day. You get to see things and meet people who are like you.”

Their building at 208 E. Highway 38 is part retail storefront, part creative space. The Wenglers work on their own products here and hold classes for all ages.

The hybrid location is part of what prompted them to open in Hartford and not downtown Sioux Falls.

“We wanted power tools running while we’re selling, and finding a space for that just wasn’t an option, so we had to look outside downtown, and we thought a small town would be better,” Stacy said.

They chose her native Hartford, where they still work part time at their neighboring family business, Beaverbuilt Inc., which Stacy’s father, Roger, founded in 1995.

“It’s faster to get to our store for some than it is to get across Sioux Falls, plus it’s a nice drive with no stoplights,” Stacy said. “I’m really pleased with the support we’ve had, even outside the community.”

Knotty Gnome sells products from a wide variety of local makers, in addition to the Wenglers’ work. Many of them are makers who also sell at pop-up shows co-organized by Knotty Gnome and SiouxFalls.Business. The next event, the 605 Made Holiday Market, is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 2 inside the lower-level parking garage of Cherapa Place in downtown Sioux Falls.

“Organizing the pop-up shops helped convince us to take the bigger leap into retail,” Stacy said. “It’s so rewarding to help other makers reach customers, and 605 Made continues to grow, helping us connect with even more amazing local makers.”

Hartford has become home, however. Knotty Gnome is a member of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce, and the Wenglers enjoy working with other area small-business owners to encourage local shopping.

“Knotty Gnome has been a great addition to our community. We’re very fortunate to have community-minded people like Stacy and Kyle in Hartford,” said Jesse Fonkert, director of the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation.

“The business has filled a much-needed gap in town,” he continued. “We generally bring visiting friends and family to Knotty Gnome as the first stop in Hartford. Consumers from across the region are finding it to be a unique store that will surprise them with something new with each visit.”

The crafting classes also offer a new option for Hartford residents and help bring other people to town, he added, and its success is encouraging for other retailers.

“If Hartford can support Knotty Gnome, that tells other retailers that they, too, have an opportunity to succeed here. And it’s important for our residents to have shopping opportunities here. If Hartford doesn’t offer them some kind of retail experience, they are going to go to another town that can provide them with one.”

For the holiday season, Knotty Gnome will offer seasonal classes and plenty of options for presents you won’t find anywhere else.

“We know people see value in handmade items as personal gifts,” Stacy said. “The enthusiasm has been great. It’s neat to see customers making connections with not only us but other small businesses and making an effort to support us and them.”

To reach Knotty Gnome, visit

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Made local, sold local: Handmade business marks one year

Kyle and Stacy Wengler can create nearly anything – from woodwork to metal art to hand-sewn apparel. They have spent much of the past year, though, building a business.

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