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Finding Minnesota: Crazy Ladies House

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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MORA, Minn. (WCCO) — The rural roads of Kanabec county may appear to be lonely, and the pace a little bit slow. But that doesn’t mean the women of central Minnesota can’t be divas.

Roxanne Santele takes care of that.

“Welcome to the Crazy Ladies!” she shouted, as two women arrived to shop recently.

She converted a century-old farmhouse into the Crazy Ladies House, and founded a company she calls Drama Queen Central.

“This is where drama queens like to come the most,” she said.

It’s a store run by women, for women — two floors of sassy and sometimes saucy merchandise.

“The bigger your handbag, the smaller your butt looks,” reads a sign in the purse section.

“I mean you hear people all through the store laughing,” Santele said.

Outside the building is a make-believe series of storefronts that Santele has named Diva Village.

The buildings include the PMS Candies store and a hair salon with the motto “life’s a bleach and then you dye.”

There’s also Cookie’s Bakery where a sign reads “you’ll love our buns.”

It all started nine years ago, when Santele and her husband were having trouble finding renters for the farmhouse, and she thought of creating a shop.

Her husband thought that was a crazy idea.

“And I was kind of mad at him,” she recalled, “so I said ‘well I might even name it the Crazy Ladies House,’ and hence, the rest is history.”

In nine years of business, Santele said she has done very little advertising. She hasn’t really needed to, with so many women talking to each other.

Debra Specht of Andover is among the returning customers.

“I just stopped in one night to see what it was,” said Specht, “and I fell in love.”

“We have grown in nine years by word of mouth,” said Santele, “because women love to talk.”

In fact, she’s just gotten trademarks approved, and plans to franchise her business, helping women in other areas become divas, too.

“I think a diva doesn’t necessarily have to be a glitzy mama,” she said. “I think she’s just got to be a great all around person.”

Santele said it’s a proven fact that women shop better without their husbands. But just in case some men do tag along, they have comfortable chairs on the front porch.

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