State of mind: Furniture and decor to celebrate state pride
FARGO — Whether you're "Deep in the Heart of Texas," whistling "Dixie" or "California Dreamin,'" state-themed items like jewelry, T-shirts, artwork, dish towels and coasters have become popular for those wanting to show their state pride — or, better yet, as gifts for loved ones who've moved away from home. But as is the case with many trends, state-mania is evolving and expanding to larger ticket items.
Grain Designs in Fargo now makes tables in the shapes of both North Dakota and Minnesota after having success in the last two years with metal state decor in both large wall hangings and smaller tabletop pieces.
"(The metal state decor) has been wildly popular," says Blain Mikkonen, one owner of Grain Designs. "I think everyone is proud of their roots, especially in this region. It's all about showing your state pride, and this is an interesting way to do that."
Mikkonen says launching into state-themed furniture started by accident.
"A woman had ordered a wooden Minnesota wall hanging," Mikkonen says. "After cutting it out, we realized it was a little too big for the template we use."
Rather than wasting it, they decided to use the large Minnesota-shaped piece of wood in another way — as a table. They added hairpin legs and eventually sold it at the Fargo Junk Market, an event by Eco Chic. When they went to a market in Shakopee, Minn., they decided to bring a North Dakota table as well.
"I think the North Dakota one sold down there before the Minnesota one. It's crazy how many North Dakota things you can sell in Shakopee," Mikkonen says with a laugh.
Grain Designs also sold end tables ($329) and coffee tables ($499) at the Downtown Fargo Street Fair. While they're not always readily available, customers can request custom orders.
At Burlap Rustic Chic Boutique, state-themed items are also increasing in popularity.
"It's all about heritage in this neck of the woods in particular," says Burlap manager Heidi Vetter. "I think heritage and home are important and — even if they've moved away — (people will) say, 'Okay, I'm from North Dakota. I want something that shows that.' "
Vetter says the state-themed items have been especially popular for moms looking to give gifts to their children who are out "spreading their wings," she says. Items range in price from just a few dollars to higher-end decor like large, wood and metal state signs from local artists that cost upwards of $165.
For online shoppers, state-themed decor can be found on sites like Ebay, Etsy and Uncommon Goods, which all feature state tables, artwork and even body-sized state-shaped pillows for nearly $200. Jason Nagher of Grand Rapids, Mich., built his entire business on furniture shaped like his state. Since 2012, he has been offering an adirondack patio chair in the shape of Michigan.
Certainly, furniture shaped like your home state might not be your cup of tea, but if you have to set that cup of tea somewhere why not smack dab in the middle of Minnesota?
"The tables are definitely an eclectic look — a little more in your face with state pride. But if you want a conversation piece, this is the way to go," Mikkonen says.