Wise Grasshopper / Grasshopper Goods

  • How We Landed in Stoughton

    How We Landed in Stoughton

    Tucked into a historic building that once housed a Stoughton, Wisconsin, town bank, the Grasshopper Goods brick-and-mortar shop is our home base to spotlight the makers, dreamers, and artists whose products and stories we so admire. 

    After hearing our story, you might be wondering, how’d you land in the quaint town of Stoughton, anyway? Time to unpack how we started calling this charming town our home.

    It all began with a grasshopper—a traditional symbol of good tidings, new beginnings, and joy—that landed serendipitously on my windshield during a Caribbean vacation. Since that gentle nudge to follow my dreams, I haven’t looked back, taking Grasshopper Goods from a vision I couldn’t stop thinking about to a mobile boutique that roamed the area near and far. And then came the permanent brick-and-mortar location.

    Over the years, we experimented with many partnerships and collaborations. With the love and excitement that outpoured for the goods we sourced and the brands we worked with, it became super clear to us that Grasshopper Goods was its own special place that needed a permanent home. 

    Where I go, serendipity seems to follow, and I love the little signs that tell me the universe has my back as I take the leap. After years of operating a mobile-only business, my dear friend and Grasshopper Goods’ Creative Director, Jenn, spotted a hopeful storefront for us in Stoughton when she was in town. A regular at Stoughton’s celebrated Wildwood Cafe and DUNE gift + home, Jenn excitedly told me about the space in Stoughton—a charming, tight-knit community that reflects our values back to us. 

    After a lot of soul-searching, I secured that spot on Main Street with some great advice from my mentors on being honest and working out a contract. For years, we longed to open a brick-and-mortar location in a town that embodied community. And we needed to make sure our storefront mirrored the Grasshopper Goods truck’s retro vibe. That spirit of Grasshopper Goods needed to translate from the magic of our mobile boutique into our forever home. And we found all that and more in Stoughton.


    And so In 2019, we moved into our address on Main Street, and today, we find ourselves among a beautiful network of small businesses, all cheering each other on. 

    We have always been about community and belonging first and foremost. And Stoughton is that place, a tight-knit community filled up with love. It’s been a blessing to have our storefront in the Historic Arts District.

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  • We Offer a Discount for Teachers. Here's Why.

    We Offer a Discount for Teachers. Here's Why.

    Grasshopper Goods wasn’t created just because I felt like it was a good business opportunity. I had a dream of building my own shop, a dream that manifested itself through a mobile boutique, and, later a brick and mortar location, but the dream didn’t start and end with an open/closed sign or a business bank account.

    I’ve been an educator my entire life, and I knew that this facet of my personality needed to be ingrained in the Grasshopper Goods mission in order for it to feel authentic. Our shop’s purpose is to support makers, artists, and dreamers. When I dig deeper into that statement, it becomes clear that it essentially represents the connection between my work as an educator and as an entrepreneur. After all, who supports dreamers more than teachers?

    However, I knew that I needed to make that connection a bit more tangible, to go beyond the abstract bridge between my two passions and make it obvious to anyone who was interested that Grasshopper Goods supports educators as well. That’s why we decided to implement a 10% discount for educators in shop.

    Why We Offer a Discount for Teachers

    You might be thinking - how does a discount actually help teachers do their jobs? Does it help them manage the stress, pressure, and long days that an educator entails? How does the Grasshopper Goods product offering serve teachers any way?

    My vision for the teacher discount is that it simply makes life a little easier, a little more enjoyable for educators. I know that, at the end of the day, there is much to be done in the education field, large-scale problems that need to be tackled by a coalition of experts. I see the discount as something that I, personally, can do to help educators even if it’s small.

    Even 10% off of a purchase puts some money back in teachers’ pockets. Teachers are regularly asked to furnish supplies and materials for their classrooms, paying for these “extras” with their own money. In a country that doesn’t pay its teachers adequately for the work they do (that’s a whole other conversation), we’re asking teachers to take on a financial burden in addition to the emotional and physical stress they retain from their jobs. If Grasshopper Goods’ 10% discount gives teachers a little more wiggle room in their monthly budget, while still letting them enjoy themselves through a bit of retail therapy, then I’m happy to be a part of their joy.

    Education was my first passion, and it remains my full-time career to this day. I wholeheartedly believe that we never stop learning, and that the foundation of our educational experience, our penchant for curiosity, is fostered by teachers. I’m thrilled that we are able to offer a discount to educators who shop with us in store, and hope to do even more in the future. In the meantime, what education-focused topics would you like to see me discuss here on our blog? Are there any products that Grasshopper Goods should carry that would be helpful for educators? As always, I’m open to your feedback and your suggestions.
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  • Giving Spotlight: Earth Day

    Giving Spotlight: Earth Day

    At Grasshopper Goods, our vision is deeply intertwined with community—both the tight-knit, artsy Stoughton community that welcomed us with open arms and communities in need around the world. We acknowledge that we wouldn't be here without the support of others. For this reason, we show our gratitude by working to create a collaborative community through supporting independent artists and makers and by paying it forward whenever we can.

    How We Give Back

    We’re committed to giving back and championing causes across education, social justice, and sustainability. As an educator who is deeply passionate about the field, I knew I needed to connect my love of education to Grasshopper Goods in some way. Teachers are endlessly inspiring, embodying the spirit of our shop directly. So with all purchases made in shop, teachers forever receive a 10% discount.

    We also seek giving partnerships wherever we can, and are always looking for ways to make an impact. We’ve donated portions of our sales to Black Women Speak, Friends of UW Health, the P.E.O. FoundationStoughton Yoga, and Clean Lakes Alliance. This mission helps keep us accountable to our goal of effecting real, lasting change in our community and beyond.

    For Earth Day, April 22nd, we’ll be donating 10% of all sales to Clean Lakes Alliance.

    Did you know it takes only 72 hours for water in our metro area of Madison, Wisconsin, to impact the ocean? Clean Lakes Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of improving the water quality throughout the Yahara River Watershed. They tirelessly advocate for the lakes we Wisconsinites love to spend our summers swimming and sailing in: Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa

    Through work with state, county, and local government as well as individual property owners, waterway groups, and nonprofits, Clean Lakes Alliance ensures our precious lakes are given a voice and continue to be protected.

    This Earth Day, we invite you to make a difference with us. So mark your calendars, and make a list of your must-have items. You’ll be gifting for a very good cause!

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  • How I Met My Work Wife

    How I Met My Work Wife

    Entrepreneurship can be a tough road if you’re walking it solo. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with supportive family and friends by my side throughout my journey - my husband, my children, my brothers, my mom, and most importantly for the purposes of this post, my work wife, Jenn.

    I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am that I met Jenn, almost by accident. It’s one of those magical stories that I love to tell here on the Wise Grasshopper, and I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by to share it.

    Grasshopper Goods | Karen Tardrew

    Many of you may not know this, but Jenn and I met working at A Stone’s Throw (an awesome shop that used to be on Monroe St. in Madison) about 11 years ago.  My daughter, Kelsey, had first worked there and became close to Jenn during her tenure. After Kelsey left for college, the shop needed some early morning help. 

    It was a time when things were hard and sad for me. My dad had recently died of brain cancer, my eldest left for college, and Act 10 impacted education in Wisconsin. A Stone’s Throw was one of my favorite shops, and just a few blocks away from home. So I thought, why not! The idea of getting a discount didn’t hurt, and I would get to be around pretty things when the world didn’t feel so vibrant.

    Jenn and I became close immediately. We had a similar commitment to our families, same sense of humor, and a dedicated work ethic. I describe her as the Shirley to my Laverne. A Green Bay native, she learned to drive in the Lambeau Field parking lot, and is a huge Packer fan. It was “work wife at first sight” for us both!

    It was there in the shop that I first told Jenn of my vision for Grasshopper Goods, and told her that, when it happened, I wanted her to be my creative director. 

    You see, Jenn is always working her magic. She is visually gifted, deeply compassionate, has bionic ears (really), has been a vegetarian for decades, can sing most lyrics, is crazy smart and one of my favorite all around humans.

    It was that original leap of faith that led to crazy truck life, driving Vinny through all sorts of mind-blowing weather, creating inside jokes almost daily, fostering new friendships, participating in educational opportunities, starting collaborations, drinking a few adult beverages, listening to music from around the world, and laughing, oh so much laughing.

    In 2019, we were led (through the amazing serendipity that always seems to find Jenn) to a permanent spot in the amazing community of Stoughton. We are honored to be a part of that “something special” that’s happening in Stoughton, that booming downtown economy generated by small businesses up and down Main Street. Starting the brick and mortar shop, visualizing how we would merchandise products, create shop windows, and more was an even greater catalyst to our unbreakable bond. 

    So now, here we are. Nearly seven years in (February 2023), and I can honestly say we’ve laughed every day that we’ve worked together. We’re both a couple of weirdos who, along with many blessings, have faced adversity in life and will jump at the chance to tell you that a sense of humor is a necessary life skill. And, in retail, it’s absolutely essential.

    It’s not often that you get to meet someone by chance who you create a deep, binding soul connection with, someone who can change the way you think about the world and can push you to find your perfect place within it. Jenn has been that for me throughout the lifespan of Grasshopper Goods, cheering me on and providing incredibly creative insight into the strategy for our future. 

    I’m so happy to have made the decision all those years ago to take a chance at a new opportunity, and to have met Jenn because of it. Here’s to Jenn, to taking a risk, saying yes to things that make you uncomfortable, and to laughing each and every day.
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