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Leaving Shady Hollow

Shady Hollow flea market is changing hands, as Ardy Hanson (bottom left), her husband, David Hanson (top left) and Karen Jones (top right) sell the property to Chad Stenerson (bottom right), a Moorhead native and summertime resident of Detroit Lakes.1 / 2
Shady Hollow typically hosts 70 to 100 flea market vendors every summer weekend, depending on weather.2 / 2

When Ardy Hanson and fellow schoolteacher and friend, Monte Jones, started buying and selling antiques at Shady Hollow Flea Market 30 years ago, the market had already been operating for 12 years.

"Ten little old ladies ran it, and it was also a vegetable farm" explained Hanson, "owned by Julie Bloomquist-Nustad, who tilled her garden and always said she just wanted to make a nickel or two."

The two teachers and antique vendors soon became managers of Shady Hollow, learning the ins and outs of running the summer operation.

Then one day, Bloomquist-Nustad decided to make more than just a nickel, offering to sell the property to Jones and Hanson.

"So we bought it, cleaned out some chicken coops and bought 20 or so little houses from resorts and auction sales to use for the vendors," said Hanson.

Hanson and Jones made Shady Hollow a family affair, recruiting help from their spouses.

"We just got sucked in," laughed Ardy's husband, David (who was also a junior high band teacher in Detroit Lakes). "Ya, we were roped right in," added Monte's wife, Karen. "They panted until we let them in," Ardy maintains.

Hanson says Shady Hollow grew to over 100 vendors on a good weekend.

"There's always been such good camaraderie here," said Ardy, as David added, "Yep, a lot of good times, that's for sure."

But on June 6, 2006, Monte Jones succumbed to cancer, leaving Ardy in charge.

When the weather was bad, so was business.

But when it was good, it was very, very good.

"We'd have so many people out here that we'd run out of parking, so people started parking up on the highway," said Hanson.

That caught the attention of law enforcement.

"I'd run outside with my bullhorn and yell, 'They're ticketing cars -- you'd better get up there," said Hanson, laughing at the memories of the commotion.

She says things have calmed down a little over the years, including vendors.

"Vendor numbers are down a little now, but I really think it's going to come back," said Hanson.

These are the hopes for her successor, as the Hansons and Karen Jones have sold Shady Hollow.

"We're old," smiled Hanson, "and we just want to have a few years before the big strokes come," she laughs.

Although she laughs, Ardy Hanson admits she's had a tough time letting Shady Hollow go.

"It's just been such a big part of me," she said, looking around the grounds.

But looking around at the same time was the new owner, Chad Stenerson.

The Moorhead native (and Arizona resident) bought the property in May, with the agreement that the Hansons would still manage it for one, last summer.

"It softened the blow for me," said Ardy Hanson, who says she has been encouraged by seeing Stenerson's abilities and vision.

An MSUM graduate in food and restaurant management (and substitute teacher), Stenerson hopes to ramp up the food aspect of the market.

His plan includes running all food carts through Shady Hollow, as well as establishing a bigger "Shady Hollow Grill" out of a larger trailer, which opened a month ago as an American "summer food" place.

Hanson says despite on-going rumors, Shady Hollow will remain a flea market.

"The rumors have been flying that the flea market is shutting down and condos are being built here," said Stenerson, "but I'm of the philosophy of, if it's not broken, don't fix it. I'm not making very many changes here, other than ramping up the food and hopefully enticing the vendors."

As a teenager, Stenerson tended bar at the Shorham hotel and worked at the Country Club, and says owning this land so close to Shorham gives him a new outlook on life.

"I never thought I'd be able to come here every summer and support myself the whole summer," said Stenerson, "but now, I should be able to do that -- I'm in control of my destiny."

He is also in control of Shady Hollow's destiny, and although he doesn't plan on making drastic changes, he does question how long the 'antique' aspect will hold on.

"The challenge now is dealing with the change in demographics," said Stenerson, "The vendors that sell junk and antiques are getting old, and the younger people coming in are selling new things -- so I suppose I will just make it available and whatever comes, comes."

What will be coming at least for one more year, is Ardy Hanson.

"I'll be here next summer selling my junk -- I mean, my interesting, beautiful, old items," she laughed.

"Yeah, she's come full circle," teased her husband, "She started out a vendor and she's finishing a vendor."

This weekend will be the last weekend the Hansons will be running the show out at Shady Hollow.

They will be operating an extra day for the Labor Day weekend, opening the grounds at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

It typically closes in mid-afternoon whenever the crowds disappear.

For more information on Shady Hollow or how to be a vendor, log on to or call 218-847-9488.