In 1988, Brenda and Carl Millay opened Kuntry Kutter, an antiques and gift shop, in an old railroad caboose in their yard at 9351 Sauer Lane — near Stanley.
In 2012, the couple bought an old fire station at 18th and Daviess streets that was built in 1945 and turned over to the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra 30 years later.
Then, they moved the Kuntry Kutter into Owensboro.
And now, after 32 years in business, the Millays are hoping to sell the business and the building and retire.
“We’re both 70 and we want to travel — when things get to where we can travel again,” Brenda Millay said. “But I’ll be here until we sell it.”
Carl Millay, who is legally blind, calls himself the CEO of the business.
“I carry out everything,” he said with a chuckle.
The store’s name comes from the fact that Brenda Millay had been a hairdresser since 1968 and she was cutting hair in the country.
She worked at Joli Hair Design in Owensboro for 23 years.
And Millay also styled hair at her home in Stanley.
Eventually, she quit her job in town and worked from home full time.
Then, Millay decided to expand her business with a gift shop.
So, the couple paid $3,000 for an old caboose owned by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.
The railroad delivered it for $340.
Business was so good that the couple built a bigger shop on their property.
Then, in 2012, the Kuntry Kutter moved to town.
“Business was about the same out there as it is here,” Millay said.
Even before the internet, she was drawing customers from several states.
“We still have some of the same customers we started with, but they’re dying off,” Millay said. “Some of the customers we got when Beanie Babies were big are still with us. I wish we had something like that today.”
Beanie Babies were a marketing sensation starting in 1993.
“Back then, people from several states would call to see which ones I had and drive to Stanley to get them,” Millay said.
Today, the No. 1 seller is Sole Mates, mismatched socks that are popular with young people.
No. 2 is Lori Mitchell whimsical figurines.
“We have lots of different gift ware and art,” Millay said. “It’s fun. I love meeting the artists whose work I sell.”
A 1906 National Cash Register sits on the counter.
It still works, but it’s for sale, not for use in the store, Millay said.
“We get a lot of telephone calls for funeral home gifts,” she said. “That kept me going through the virus. I try to get nice things, not the junk that falls apart in a year.”
The store is fully stocked, waiting for the next owner.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org