One August in the early 1980s, Kathy Zeller and her husband, Bill Zeller, were traveling to Minnesota to go to a flea market.
When Kathy Zeller looked out the window, she saw a crowd gathered around a yard glowing with greenery and foliage. She and Bill drove around the block, and curious about the site, she told him to pull over.
Walking up to the yard they found an older woman selling flowers to the crowd among the plants and decor all seemingly placed perfectly like a puzzle coming together.
“That always stuck in my head,” she said.
Now the owner of Rubideau Antiques and Garden Decor at her home located at 201 Vinton St. in Palo, the situation has flipped. Kathy Zeller sees people drive around the block, peaking through the car window at the items in her yard, before pulling over to stop and ask if her items are for sale.
“It makes them feel like it’s something they discovered,” she said. The items are ones that she herself discovered.
The property, which the Zellers have owned for 26 years, “used to be naked,” but over the years, the couple’s fancy for old things inspired them to fill the empty spaces with plants, antique cars and keepsakes, decor and old buildings.
After retiring from Rockwell Collins, Kathy Zeller took up gardening and antiquing full time.
“I like to garden — it’s good for a person,” she said. “So many people have discovered gardening as therapy in life.”
Each year she takes a trip or two to Texas and loads a trailer full of antiques — she particularly likes iron decor.
“Anything that can be a centerpiece or a focal point is what I like best,” Kathy Zeller said.
Her customers, from the area and those traveling through, all have particular items they enjoy whether it’s for a project or a gift.
When Zeller returned from a winter down South a few years ago, she found a check in her mailbox dated for Christmas Eve.
The man who wrote the check had wanted to purchase an antique for his wife’s Christmas present, but since the Zellers weren’t there to make the sale, the man left the check to pay for the item.
The story makes Kathy Zeller chuckle, but the situation wasn’t all that out of the ordinary — people from all over come to make a purchase from her intricate collection.
She has an eye for purchasing the items while Bill has an eye for placing the items to put them on display.
Iron plant hangers, flower parts, rustic signs, glass bottles turned into decor, flowers and shade plants each have their place in making up the aesthetic of the yard.
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Having customers enjoy the items is just the cherry on top of what has become Zeller’s biggest passion.
“How come I had to get this old to have so much fun working?” she laughed.