HARBERT — SO Stockholm Objects, 13630 Red Arrow Highway, Harbert, was the site of an April 25 Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Mixer.
Co-Host Chef Vivian May of Luisa’s Cafe and Harbert Swedish Bakery provided delectable bites.
“We are not Swedish. We are German, which is close from this perspective,” quipped
Annette Brinkmeier, who along with her husband, Reinhard, owns the Harberts SO Stockholm Objects shop along with locations in in Hinsdale and LaGrange, Ill.
“The Hinsdale store was originally opened by two friends of mine from Stockholm. They call it Stockholm Objects and started importing Scandinavian items and introducing them to the Chicago area,” Annette said.
The Brinkmeiers bought the Hinsdale store in 2012, opened another in LaGrange in 2015, and debuted the Harbert site two years later (at which time Reinhard left the corporate world to join her in the business — he later said he is “the import department”).
The couple recently moved to Michigan.
“We actually travel to Stockholm, we go twice a year,” Annette said. “There’s also a big trade show in Paris that we go to.”
Reinhard was set to go to Milwaukee the next day to pick up the spring buying container (which originates in a Danish harbor, is shipped across the Atlantic, and makes its way through the Great Lakes before arriving in Milwaukee).
“We call ourselves a European inspired lifestyle store, so we are not just a boutique for women’s clothing,” Annette said, adding that the space is filled with home accessories and gift items (mostly Scandinavian), a men’s department, outdoor furniture (including lines from Denmark and Finland), and Pappelina rugs from a factory north of Stockholm that they both have visited.
“The company’s wonderful, it revitalized an entire village basically,” Reinhard said.
Annette thanked Harbert store employee Cathy Pegg-Owens.
“We could not do it without Cathy,” she said.
Luisa’s Cafe and Harbert Swedish Bakery owner Vivian May opened by noting “I’m not Swedish either.”
She said the bakery has been at 13698 Red Arrow Highway in Harbert since 1912 — adding that her mom (Luisa Mills) bought the bakery and opened the cafe nearly two decades ago (she later said the Cafe’s 17th anniversary is May 6).
May bought the cafe and bakery (along with the property) from her mom two years ago.
“But she’s still telling me what to do. She makes sure everything meets her standards. We just have so much fun together every day.”
May said a new feature is “grab and go” offerings such as European style sandwiches. She slosh specializes in lox and bagels and frozen pot pies.
“We’re going to be introducing some other grab and go things so people can just go to the beach or just get something and go,” she said.
“We have the best customers, The best neighbors. We were so happy when Reinhard and Annette moved in.”
May said SO Stockholm Objects has a good selection of unique hostess gifts for under $10.
“Every customer I have sent over here has come back and thanked me,” she said.
Chamber Members Services Manager Kim Wendt introduced new Chamber member David McNabb (a financial advisor for Edward Jones who grew up in the area and moved back to raise his family); and Oaks Eatery owner Rodrigo Abarca.
She said the next Chamber Mixer is scheduled for May 16 indoors and outdoors at the new wine pavilion at St. Julian Winery (Union Pier) catered by Skip’s.
For more, contact the Chamber at (269) 469-5409.