Walking through the door to the old fire station on 18th and Daviess Streets, customers step into another world filled with artistic creations spanning decades. Originally opened in 1988, Kuntry Kutter has been in this location for five years after origination in Stanley, Kentucky.
Its owners, Brenda and Carl Millay, were longtime Stanley residents. Brenda’s foray into the retail world began when she was 12 years old and she started working in a grocery store in Newman. Eventually, she opened her beauty shop and began selling jewelry and pottery in addition to cutting and styling hair. She and her husband, Carl, soon realized the shop could stand on its own and sought a larger space for it.
“We had a bet,” Brenda said. “I wanted to find a caboose, and he wanted to find a log cabin for the shop. Well, we found a caboose so that was it!”
The Millays laid the train tracks, cleaned up the caboose, and the stand-alone gift shop in Stanley was born.
“When we moved the shop into the caboose, Beanie Babies were popular, and Kuntry Kutter was a dealer for them,” Brenda said. “Beanie Babies paid for a new 2,100 sq. ft. brick building.”
After several years in Stanley, the Millays decided it was time to move to Owensboro. Brenda was excited about the old fire station being the new home of their shop.
“I love the fire station,” Brenda said. “I love the architecture of it.”
At this location, customers often stop in after driving by it for years and wondering what is inside, Brenda said.
Brenda has had customers from 14 different states, and many come to visit when in town to see their families over the holidays. They not only come in to see what novelties Brenda has found since they were in last, but also to catch up and visit with the friendly owners. The personal connection Brenda creates and maintains with her customer base make this shop a cherished destination.
“I just love seeing all the customers,” Brenda said.
The shop is filled with handcrafted items, antiques, and collectibles.
Inside the Kuntry Kutter | Photos by AP Imagery
“I like it that my shop doesn’t look like anybody else’s,” Brenda said. “I try to get things nobody else has.”
The Millays go to market six times a year and look forward to bringing in one-of-a-kind items to the store from all over the country.
“I like things with a story, like pieces of furniture that come from people’s houses I know and pottery from artists in Pennsylvania,” Chuck said. “We get to see their shops where they work. When we shake hands to finalize a deal, we know the artists have produced the pottery because their hands aren’t soft.”
Brenda enjoys bringing home distinctive pieces that deserve to be displayed.
“If you don’t use it or believe it to be beautiful, it shouldn’t be in your house,” Brenda said.