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Cornering the market

Bill Boyd was looking for locations for his traveling wind ornament business, and Garvin corner was a surprise success

August 9, 2010
By Deb Gau

If you've been traveling on Highway 59 or Highway 14 this summer, there's a good chance you've seen Bill Boyd's roadside stand. Colorful kites and lawn ornaments, ranging from windsocks to flags, pinwheels and spinners, dance in the breeze.

"You really can't miss the display," said Boyd, the owner of Whirlee Guys, a business that specializes in wind-related decorations and gifts. "It's eye-catching."

But visibility is nothing without a good location for customers. Boyd, a Mankato resident, has been faithfully coming back to Garvin corner, the four-way stop at the intersection of U.S. 59 and 14, every weekend this summer.

Article Photos

Photo by Per Peterson
Pictured is Bill Boyd and some of the wind ornaments at his business located at the intersection of U.S. Highways 59 and 14.

"Sales have been really good," Boyd said. He travels to locations all around the state, but Garvin corner is a place that gives customers the perfect chance to pull over and browse.

Boyd said he bought his business from his brother-in-law and started out selling ornaments at locations in the Mankato area. But he quickly found out that locations along the major highways there were visible, but not easily accessible to customers.

"It was really hard for people to get to me," Boyd said.

"I have a sister who farms over by Balaton. She'd been telling me for years I should go out to Garvin corner," he said. At first he hesitated, because he thought it was "kind of out in the boonies."

But once he rented space near the intersection, Boyd said sales really started picking up.

"The first time I went out there, I couldn't even hardly sit down," he said. "And my sister goes, 'I told you so.'"

"Highway 14 is a major highway," Boyd said, so there's steady traffic, but the four-way stop is what's really important. Because potential customers are already slowing down as they approach the intersection, they have a better chance to stop by his display.

Boyd said he's met people from all over the country who were traveling on Highway 14. There was a spike in customers in July, during the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove.

"There were quite a few people on their way (to the pageant)," he said. "I met some people from Canada who were going there."

Boyd said he generally has his display set up Friday through Sunday at Garvin corner, from about 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weather permitting.Boyd said he plans to keep coming back to the corner at least through Labor Day, and he'll also be expanding his hours to Thursdays through the month of August.

"There's a big selection. We have hundreds of items," Boyd said of his wares. "Some customers are thinking ahead for Christmas gifts."

If the weather stays nice, he says, he'd like tokeep coming back through the early part of the fall.

"I really like September and the end of August," he said. "And I have a lot of Vikings things, so maybe that will help with football season."



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