Dala Horses And So Much More at Hemslöjd In Lindsborg, KansasApril 2, 2019
Swedish traditions are front and center at Hemslöjd, a longtime gift shop in Kansas.
“We are trying to carry on traditions for people now and for future generations,” said Corey Peterson, the shop’s owner. “We want to pass on our heritage to children and grandchildren.”
Hemslöjd, a Swedish gift shop and woodshop, is located in Lindsborg, Kan. A small community located on the plains of Kansas, Lindsborg is known as “Little Sweden USA” because of its vibrant Swedish heritage that residents like Peterson are helping to keep alive today.
“We have always celebrated our Swedish heritage here,” said Peterson, whose great-grandparents immigrated from Sweden. “I grew up in the 1960s back when the phone book was filled with Andersons, Nelsons and Johnsons — almost all Swedish.”
The Swedes settled the area in the mid-1800s, and this year, the town is honoring its 150th anniversary.
“Now we are much more diverse, but we still have our roots,” he added. “People who have moved here really enjoy celebrating the Swedish holidays.”
The community comes together to rejoice in all the big Swedish holidays, like St. Lucia and Midsummer. Lindsborg also has a festival called Svensk Hyllningsfest every two years when they honor their heritage. (Mark your calendar for this year’s festival on Oct. 18-19, 2019.)
Peterson’s shop keeps these Swedish traditions alive year-round.
Located in an old gas station that anchors the north end of town, Hemslöjd is a beloved institution in the local Swedish community and also a tourist trap for travelers. Four miles off Interstate 135 and about 18 miles off I-70, Lindsborg is located at a major thoroughfare, which makes the shop a big stop for tourists. The giant interstate billboard for the Swedish shop entices travelers to get off at the Lindsborg exit and pay a visit to the shop.
Hemslöjd was founded in 1984 by two of Peterson’s neighbors, and at the time it was focused on the creation of handmade and painted Dala horse signs. Modeled after the hemslöjds (a type of store) in Sweden, the Lindsborg shop bears the city’s name to pay homage.
“As a little kid, I remember the owner painting Dala horse signs in the garage, and then they started the store, and then the catalog,” said Peterson, who purchased the business from the two founders in 2011 when they decided it was time to retire.
Today, the shop sells imported food items like jams, gingersnaps and knäckebröd. Other imports include handmade wares like Dala horse statues, tomtes and items for St. Lucia, like traditional candelabras. At one point in time, the shop was the largest retailer of Dala horse statues in the world, outside of Sweden — an award given to them by their Dala horse supplier back in the motherland.
The shop still carries on the legacy of carving and painting Dala horse signs with onsite woodworkers and artists in the back woodshop. The shop’s artisans also make door harps, clocks and plates. With a vibrant arts scene, Lindsborg is home to a group of practicing artists and local galleries.
To stay in touch with their roots and the shop’s mission, Peterson and his wife also spend time in Sweden, visiting with vendors and artisans for their shop. They also travel the country to visit their extended family.
“We are handcrafting traditions for the current and future generations to enjoy,” Peterson said. “And Lindsborg is a town where you can celebrate the Swedish traditions that people have celebrated for centuries in Sweden. We try to keep that alive here.”