Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day Trippin': Longaberger Homestead

My Mother-in-Law came to visit last month.  She flew into Des Moines, drove back to Ohio with the kids & I, and then kindly wrangled them for 4 days while we were floating on the Caribbean.  When we returned, it was time to show her a little local flavor.

The tour of our new hometown took an entire half hour, so I expanded our Ohio love to include a trek out to the Longaberger Homestead.  I wasn't that familiar with Longaberger - I knew they made baskets, and that's about it - but I had heard it was kind of a big deal, so away we went.  We toured the rolling countryside, and lo & behold, in the midst of verdant farmland, there were several very, very large buildings.

The grounds were lovely.  Being that it was a Thursday morning, we almost had the place to ourselves.  We took a mini shuttle to the Factory Tour, and I came away thoroughly impressed.  Not only was the tour free, informative, and personal, but the product being made is really great.  Yes, they are baskets, but every basket is made of maple veneer, and all the wood is harvested here in the U.S.  Once the maple is made into veneer (again, a process only done here in the U.S.), it is shipped to Longaberger, where it is custom cut, dyed, and woven BY HAND.  Yep, every basket is made by hand.  And boy, were those hands fast! Our tour guide said that she has been with the company for 19 years, and every weaver on the floor has been there longer than she. At one point they employed over 8,000 people, but after 9/11 and the changes to our economy, the workforce shrunk to around 900.  Given the rural setting, and that this is a privately owned, family-run business, this still makes Longaberger a major employer in the area.

World's Largest Apple Basket

After the tour and a stroll around the grounds, we explored the Factory Store.  Although many items were beyond my budget, I did invest in a medium server and a Christmas basket (love those extra 30% off sales!).  The quality is really top notch and I intend to use these for many years to come.  If you get a chance to take part in a Longaberger party, do it!  Your checkbook may suffer, but you'll come away with some beautiful, high-quality, made-in-America baskets. And if you're in the Columbus/ Cleveland area, you should check out the Homestead & Factory Tour.

I'm sure my husband thinks I need another Christmas item like I need a hole in my head.  
But can you ever really have too much Christmas?  
No.  No, you can't. 

I know.  It's pink.  
But it's going to be really cute at Valentine's Day and Easter!

Note: The information contained in this post is solely my personal opinion.  I have no connection to Longaberger, and was not compensated in any way for this visit, this post, or the purchases I made.  If someone would like to say thanks with a free basket or two, please contact me!  ;)

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