Antique business wins tourism award

Erin Kinder puts her Saskatchewan town on the map with a booming enterprise that she runs from the family farm

DAVIDSON, Sask. — Five years of hard work and determination were validated when Erin Kinder hoisted her Tourism Saskatchewan award for marketing this spring.

She has built her antiques business from the ground up and, along the way, helped make her hometown more than just a place to pee.

Davidson is considered the halfway point between Regina and Saskatoon, and as such has earned its reputation as a place to stop for a washroom break.

For Kinder, it was a place to return to: to farm, raise her family, and open a business that suited her.

After travelling to more than 40 countries, obtaining a marketing degree from Athabasca University, and living in New Zealand until 2006, she was ready to come home.

She and her husband, Craig, who is from New Zealand, bought a farm just outside Davidson and started their new life.

Kinder Surprises Antiques began when she sold a few items to friends in the fall of 2014 and has exploded to grow 25 percent each year since then.

She has more than 10,000 followers on social media and Facebook is her main marketing tool.

Erin Kinder began Kinder Surprises Antiques in 2014 when she sold a few items to friends. The business has grown 25 percent a year since then. | Erin Kinder photo

“It’s just been a phenomenal ride,” she said.

The tourism award nomination put her against Saskatoon’s well-known Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

“I was very surprised, and thrilled,” she said of her win. “I work really hard and it’s just nice to be recognized by a prestigious organization like Tourism Saskatchewan.”

Kinder grew up in the entrepreneurial and farming Gust family. Her mom operated an antiques store in nearby Bladworth for a time in the 1990s and Kinder’s two grandmothers were avid furniture restorers.

“It’s kind of my art,” Kinder said.

She selects and curates inside a 100-year-old barn on the farm where she lives in an Eaton’s home with Craig, and sons Sam, 11, and Ivan, nine, and daughter Mary, eight.

Since her business has grown, she has added two smaller buildings and this year opened a washroom facility to accommodate the growing clientele.

“It’s the experience people get when they come out here,” she said on a sunny spring day with birds chirping and ducks paddling in the dugout. “They love the barn and they love that it’s so curated … like a Pinterest explosion.”

Her customers reminisce about items from their families’ past and most leave with at least one item.

Kinder first attended auctions for her stock but is now so established that all of her purchases come from family estates.

“I edit while I am taking the pieces,” she said. “Each piece is hand-selected and I chose for it to come in.”

Her customers are primarily women aged 35 to 55 and many are repeat buyers. Her stock turns over continually, which makes each trip to the farm a new experience.

It’s a treasure hunt for collectors of all types of things.

The store provides an eclectic variety of items for consumers to consider. | Karen Briere photo

“I never knew how many people collect rolling pins,” she said.

Her own collection tends toward Jadeite glassware and tramp art frames.

The business is open each Sunday, allowing Kinder to coach her children’s ball teams, run them to activities and help on the farm.

“My main job is to be a mom and a farmer’s wife,” she said.

She and Craig run 200 Black Angus cow-calf pairs and farm 3,000 acres.

Kinder is also active in her community and talks enthusiastically about other small, local businesses near and far that are as passionate as she is about keeping their communities alive and following their dreams.

“I mean, I have a barn in Davidson, and it’s thriving,” she said.

Kinder was also nominated for a Regina YWCA Nutrien Women of Distinction Award earlier this month.

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