Photos by Canary Grey
Editor’s note, June 26: In order to not distract from the racial justice conversations centered around Chicago Avenue where George Floyd’s died, Flostam + Fork has decided to close its storefront and look for a new location. Its online store is still in operation.
The wicker items at South Minneapolis’ Flotsam + Fork are by no means the main products, but the European, utilitarian charm and heritage craftsmanship are emblematic of the kitchen and home goods shop. Hanging from the walls and stacked on the floor, these laundry hampers, market baskets, trivets, and more are all from Fayl-Billot, a town in France with more than 300 years of basket weaving history (and the few that aren’t are ethically sourced from Morocco).
While owners Adrianna Fie and Joe Hasler haven’t been able to visit these French makers yet, it’s high on their priority list. The couple travel to Europe semiannually to visit factories and find new products; in fact, their last visit was to Frankfurt in February, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Besides the trade show they attended, the two were able to take a train up to Solingen, the knife-making capital of Germany, where brands like Wusthof are based, to meet with the makers of the Robert Herder knives they carry. These frequent trips are even more fitting since it was a vacation to Europe that started Flotsam + Fork in the first place.
Back in 2010, Fie and Hasler were visiting one of Fie’s high school friends, a chef in Paris, and as home cooks and food lovers, they were enraptured by the kitchen and homeware products they found in the shops. “They were often really well made, classic European products that were still reasonably priced,” Fie says. “I just love the idea of the everyday utilitarian objects that have that history without being [at] a luxury price tag.” So she brought them back for us.
After starting an online-exclusive business when the couple was based in Madison, Wisconsin, 2017 brought a move to the Twin Cities, pop-ups, and eventually a brick-and-mortar store on Chicago Avenue in 2019. There, visitors are able to see the artistry of a kitchen knife made in Thiers, France, or the quality of Due Fragole linens from Busatti, Italy, and they can smell the fragrance of the Le Baigneur soaps made on the edge of Paris. Plus, they can hear the stories the couple has gleaned from their visits to trade shows and to the makers’ individual hometowns and factories.
Really, what Fie and Hasler are doing is connecting the communities of makers they’ve found in Europe with the community they’ve joined in the Twin Cities.
It’s partially because of this sense of community that they knew they couldn’t stay silent when George Floyd was murdered. “The fact that he was killed on our street corner was just so—I don’t even know—shocking, and it’s emotional just talking about it,” Fie says. “We were just so shocked, and it was so blatant, we felt, like many people, that we couldn’t stand by and do nothing.”
While the couple already supported the fight for racial justice in their personal lives, to support the immediate needs of their neighbors as a store, they donated 100 percent of their profits from May 29-31 to the Minnesota Freedom Fund and We Love Lake Street. Then they decided that during the first week of June, they would donate 100 percent of profits to their local neighborhood association (the Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization) and Reclaim the Block.
Looking forward, Fie knows that she and Hasler will continue supporting their community and looking for more ways to get involved as a shop. “It does seem like a movement right now that is different than in the past, like everyone is just rolling up their sleeves and coming together,” Fie says.
Because of the pandemic and civil unrest, Flotsam + Fork’s storefront is currently closed; please email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate pick up or delivery. For more examples of items they carry, check out Midwest Home’s earlier coverage on the store here or go to its website at flotsamandfork.com. [Editor’s note, June 26: In order to not distract from the racial justice conversations centered around Chicago Avenue where George Floyd’s died, Flostam + Fork has decided to close its storefront and look for a new location. Its online store is still in operation.]