How does a woman working in healthcare find the inspiration to open her own shop and pull the trigger?

Brooke Pfeffer, owner of The Peddler in Lanesboro, did just that.

“My husband and I have renovated many homes over the years. We love older homes, the history, the architectural details, a chance to preserve a piece of the past. We happened to be walking by this building and noticed a note in the window that the business and building were for sale. After many months of discussion and dreaming, we decided to give it a go.”

When asked about the items in her shop and where they came from, Brooke responded with, “Of course, it would be easier for me to go to market and purchase large quantities of mass-produced items. But that is not what is in my heart and how I want to earn my living. The way I stock my store now takes a considerable amount of time and mental energy. But I need to be a part of something that is larger than myself. I need to not lose focus.”

When asked what she disliked about owning a business. she said, “My least favorite part of being in business is the feeling that I’m not ‘businessy’ enough, and the sometimes-crippling self-doubt that exists in my mind.

"Am I choosing people over profit? Is this a sustainable mindset and business model? Only time will tell. But I am creating the kind of store I would want to shop in, and I hope that others feel the same way.”

Owning The Peddler has been “the best job of my life so far," she said. "It’s not always about how much I’ve made at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s about that one other shop owner, whom I was sure didn’t even know I existed, stopping in to tell me that his customers have nothing but good things to say about my shop and that I’m doing a great job.

"I’ve felt the gratitude for my existence from the Lanesboro business community. I may not be running a business how they would or be stocking items they are interested in, but I feel like a part of a system that is working together really well where differences are recognized and celebrated," Brooke added.

“I really enjoy the platform it has created for me that I can use to promote positivity and kindness. I try very hard to source items from ethical sources.

The fair-trade industry has so many amazing artisans from around the world. I love to search out these makers, buy a small lot of their wares, and give them a chance to sell here in my shop. I’m also happy to support local makers, especially kids. I have about seven kids that routinely bring in their creations for me to sell for them.

"Most of the items I have are connected to greater causes," she said. "By purchasing a mug made in Haiti or earrings made in Ghana, for example, those dollars are so important to those families. I really enjoy being a part of a system that supports small business and young entrepreneurs.”

Brooke offered advice to women following a dream of opening a shop.

“Create the kind of place you'd want to visit. Look around your community and think about what may be missing. Are people wishing there were more thrift stores, a hardware shop, a bookstore? You don’t have to limit yourself to one category. You could be a thrift store or consignment shop with a stellar used book section. Pay attention to what people need and focus your energies there if that aligns with your values and interests. I would LOVE for a similar store to be near me. As they say, a rising tide lifts us all.”

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to

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