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In tiny Frontenac, Camilla and Me continues to turn heads

An eye-catching vintage store on Highway 61 gets even brighter.

Camilla and Me
Rochester-based artist Willow Gentile paints a peacock mural on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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FRONTENAC, Minn. — A pink building on U.S. Highway 61 in Southern Minnesota that has been catching attention just got more colorful.

The north wall of the Camilla and Me store building now has colorful peacock plumage thanks to artist Willow Gentile.

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Owners Camee Dugstad and Cindee Dugstad say the new visage will help the vintage and resale store get even more notice. Cindee, Camee’s mother, had the original idea to paint the building pink when the two shifted the antique business to vintage finds and clothing about seven years ago.

“I wanted people to notice (the building),” Cindee said.

Camee said she was uncertain about the idea at first. However, the flood of Instagram posts and comments from people who weren’t even planning to shop but stopped to see the pink building proved painting the building pink was a bright move.

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Frontenac is an unincorporated town of less than 200 people, according to the 2020 census. Camilla and Me relies on capturing attention on social media and traffic on the highway that passes by the building between Red Wing, Minn., and Lake City, Minn.

Gentile, who is working on opening a studio a few miles south from the store in Lake City, has been a regular shopper, visitor and social media booster at the store. When Camee decided she wanted a mural, her cousin suggested a peacock theme. Gentile was happy to offer her skills. Two solid days of work brought the bird to life. The stucco covering on the building made the mural a bit messier than Gentile is used to painting, she said.

“I kind of like having that rough texture,” she said as she put the finishing touches on the work Tuesday, July 19.

“It sort of creates this shimmering look.”

Camilla and Me
Rochester-based artist Willow Gentile takes a step back to look at a peacock mural she painted on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Camee said she likes being the talk of a small town.

“If you’re not, then what are you even doing?” she said.

The resale is enjoying continued growth in business since opening in 2020 when retailers were able to open again after closing in the spring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A combination of people improving their living spaces and younger people being interested in sustainable shopping have helped the business thrive, both Cindee and Camee said.

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“Every year, it seems like we get more discovered,” Camee said.

The two scour auctions, estate sales and other places to find items their customers would like. They try to keep their standards high and the store looking clean and bright.

“I ask myself, would I want to keep this,” Cindee said. “That’s how I buy.”

Customers want to give old items a second life and recognize that vintage items tend to last longer than buying new, they said.

Camilla and Me
Camilla and Me owners Cindee and Camee Dugstad on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at the shop in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

“They’re reusing vintage clothes,” Camee said. “They’re looking for furniture and decor that’s lived a life.”

Vintage finds are also unique, Cindee added.

“There’s not going to be something exactly the same,” she said.

When retail stores were closed, Camee and Cindee took the opportunity to paint and refresh the store.

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Camee said she appreciates vintage items thanks to her mom. Cindee noted her mother, Camee’s grandmother, also had a taste for quality used items.

“She went to garage sales all the time,” Cindee said.

“I guess it runs in the family,” Camee said.

Photos: Camilla and Me

Willow Gentile Camilla and Me 02.JPG
Willow Gentile paints her signature on a peacock mural she painted on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac, Minn.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
Cindee Dugstad and her daughter Camee talk with Rochester-based artist Willow Gentile after she was comissioned to paint a mural on the shop on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
Rochester-based artist Willow Gentile paints a peacock mural on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
A display is seen on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
Cindee Dugstad, right, helps a customer on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
Rochester-based artist Willow Gentile paints a peacock mural on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
Rochester-based artist Willow Gentile takes a step back to look at a peacock mural she painted on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
A display is seen on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
A display is seen on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Camilla and Me
A display is seen on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Camilla and Me in Frontenac.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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