Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

This week’s featured business is The Crooked Queen, N1764 High Ridge Road in Merrill, a delightfully charmed shop with a unique twist on home decor. Co-owners Missy Cayley and Nina Skic offer a warm, cozy shopping experience with a wide range of carefully curated merchandise. Each item has been hand selected by these two amazing, creative women who hunt for the perfect selections before transforming them into one-of-a-kind treasures. Shoppers at The Crooked Queen are treated to a unique experience, moving between buildings to take in the colors, textures and scents of each season, inside and out. Missy and Nina started their business in the Chicken Coop, expanded to the Corn Shed, then to the Garage, then the remodeled Gran Shed, each of which has its own distinct flair.

Both women say they owe much of their success to their spouses, John and Mark.

“They support our wild ideas, haul junk across the state and willingly do all of the jobs we don’t like to do,” the owners say. “We are blessed with generous and talented family members who support us by working every market.  The smiling faces who greet people, process sales and carefully wrap items for our customers are family members and close friends.  Each of them add personality and charm to our market experience.”

The Crooked Queen has several markets each year focused around each of the four seasons. They determine each season’s opening weekend seasonal market dates months in advance to ensure customers are informed and the shop is well staffed. The shop is also open on several dates after each opening weekend with information posted on Facebook, Instagram and on the store’s website. Contact information is listed below, along with a flyer for their next market that you won’t want to miss.

Here, Missy talks with Wausau Pilot & Review about The Crooked Queen, from how it all began to the plans both she and Nina have for the future. Be sure to stop by and choose your own treasures to spruce up your home for the season ahead. You won’t be sorry!

My biggest question is about the name. How did you come up with The Crooked Queen – and what are you hoping this conveys?  

We are often asked about how our name came about.  We had a list of business names we were considering but none of them were “catchy.”  It was Nina’s son, Luke, who came up with the name on a whim – and it stuck.  We wanted the name of our small business to be catchy, something that sounds fun and peaks people’s curiosity….it has worked!

Tell us about your backgrounds and what led you to this business. 

Nina and I share a passion for creating warm, inviting living spaces to entertain. Shopping and “hunting” for certain items is also a hobby.  In 2014, Nina and I decided to blend our interests and start this business with flea market, estate sale and repurposed finds we had collected.  We have an eye for eclectic pieces and love sharing our ideas and treasures with our customers. 

Where do you find your inspiration in creating such an amazing array of merchandise?  

We find it in each other. We both bring a different perspective to our business in terms of decorating. Our strengths complement each other.    

What are some of the most unique items you’ve created or sold? 

We have many one of a kind items….if you see something you like, you have to pick it up! We have so many one of a kind furniture pieces that have been made around items like old windows, shelving units, ladders, a large trough and even a jack.  

Tell us about your relationship with your customers and how important those connections are. 

Our customers are so important to us! Creating an environment that fosters relationships is what we do. We have had customers come from all over the Midwest. We have become a shopping tradition for some families and groups of friends; mothers meeting their daughters, friends reuniting for a shopping experience, people stopping out to take a “break” from some of life’s challenges.  We get to know our customers and celebrate things in their life, the camaraderie is the best.  The Crooked Queen is an inviting living room where people gather to be inspired, inspire others and share life’s happenings.  

What do you want people to feel when they walk inside?  

We want our customers to feel welcome, excited and inspired to be at our markets. We often hear the comment “this is like Pinterest, live.”  We want people to look at décor differently; try something new in a room of your home,  add some new textures or colors and mix it with what you have. We hope to create a vision for the spaces people want to transform, even if it starts with one small thing.  

What do you wish more people knew, or understood, about the store and the work you do?  

We spend a lot of time hunting for unique pieces.  We have been in some interesting places digging out “our finds.”  Every item is touched many times before it is in your home!  We work hard to offer a variety of goods at different price points.  We love mixing old junk, a treasure from an estate sale and something shiny and new all on the same shelf.  

We have been asked to move our business to other locations but have no intention in doing so.  The location and picturesque setting is home to us.  We want our customers to relax, unwind and enjoy the unique shopping opportunity we provide. 

Where do you see the business in five or 10 years? 

We are so thankful for the growth of our small business, we hope to keep growing!  Expanding our markets to include other vendors with like minded interests is something we tried on a small scale this year and will continue to do in the future.  We want to work together and support other local businesses, combining interests to create a unique shopping experience always peaks our interest.  Hosting small “shopping parties or private events” is an interest as well as expanding our decorating services.  We have a website with some plans for expanding our social media reach as well.

Connect with The Crooked Queen