The mere name of this new little shopping emporium (see above and below) makes me start humming that song from The Music Man: "Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little, cheep, cheep, cheep." Somehow I never pictured myself falling in love with a business that caters to chickens and their fanciers, and yet there I was: out in Paoli admiring chicken coops.
And though Cluck caters to chickens, they're only one part of the vision of owner Susan Troller. I am admitting right here that I am a friend of Troller's as well as her former editor, and I know from personal experience that whatever she turns her hand to, it will be well worth my attention. Cluck is no exception.
Cluck is the latest tenant in a hundred-year-old building that has housed everything from a blacksmith to a gas station. The original curved ceiling trusses still bear the painted warning "no credit." You can tell from this view of the shop's interior that Cluck is about more than chickens. While Troller is a lover of many kinds of animals and a "chicken wrangler" with a laying flock of six on her family's farm in New Glarus, Cluck is a much needed new home for all of us would-be domestic divas. Pull up a chair, sit down and peruse Troller's nicely "curated" displays, as the shelter mags like to say.
The front half of the store is a gallery-cum-gift shop with chicken and country-themed art, old and new. Merchandise ranges from witty tea towels, stuffed pillows, mugs and sets of dessert plates, to vintage ice cream molds and a gorgeous cabbage-shaped soup tureen.
There are books for kids, practical tomes for those who want to raise chickens (or bees!) and a tantalizing array of titles for the rest of us. I snapped up one on natural home decor and also a delcious cookbook of fall and winter dishes. Both titles are from a UK publisher and a nice change from what I find at B&N these days.
"Cluck," Troller's own book published by Wisconsin's Itchy Cat Press, is also for sale as is the new 2013 Wisconsin Local Foods Journal/Calendar.
And for those of us who still can't figure out why chickens are the fastest growing hobby in America, Troller has some adorable peeps in the shop. While they are not for sale, she'll help anyone who's serious abut chickens get started with advice, information, chicken feed and more. Live chickens are one of the few things Troller doesn't stock!
The chickens above are known as Lavender Orpingtons, and while they are beautiful, I fell for this rubber chicken coin purse. There are also full-size versions which are equally tempting. The big ones would also work to carry knitting or whatever project you might be schlepping around.
Cluck's decor includes this feed sack from Troller's grandfather, Irvin Johnson.
There are chicken coops for sale that are as pretty as they are well made. Cluck will be hosting a meet the coop builders event on Sat. Sept. 29th.
Among the assorted artworks were a series of nicely-framed black and white illustrated covers from a British poultry publication called "The Feathered World." They'd be perfect for adding a spot of color to a kitchen or a touch of history to a library or den.
And perhaps my favorite find at Cluck, this pile of fluff from the British toy company, Jellycat. A young friend of Troller's recommended "Matilda Hen," with the pronouncement that "children love this toy." Matilda and her friends will charm more than children.
Cluck is open every day but Monday. For times, events and blog posts visit Cluck's website.