By Elle Duncombe-Mills | Photographed By Jen Dederich
A sleek and chic boutique on wheels, Grasshopper Goods offers an ever-changing selection of gifts, housewares, clothing and jewelry—all with a truck-sized twist. The 200-square-foot shop outfitted in a retro van rolls up and flings open its mint green doors at events and markets around the state.
The idea for this not-so-typical shop sprung up several years ago, when owner Karen Tardrew decided to supplement her tenured teaching position at National Louis University with something that used her visual, entrepreneurial and people skills.
“I wanted to take a risk and do something totally different” says Tardrew. Her family encouraged her, as did several grasshoppers [believed to bring good luck] that appeared while she was on vacation in the Caribbean, in a vehicle she thought would be the first boutique on wheels, and on her own doorstep.
Officially launched last summer Grasshopper Goods is already paving the way for more creative kinds of retail in Madison. “It’s super cool to be a trailblazer” says Tardrew, who is now in talks with the city of Madison about modernizing its street vending rules— thanks in part to the popularity of the unique wares she peddles like travel mugs from Milwaukee-based Tactile Craftworks, elegant jewelry from Eau Claire-based Adorn Jewelry and graphic tees and dresses from Michigan-based clothing line Blue Platypus.
She also feels the boutique is innovative in its support of local makers. “Everything I have in the truck has a story,” she says, beaming.