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Dorset's Bear Crossing is a pathway to the past

Heather, Madison, Whitney and Joel Steffel offer a unique inventory of antiques, sure to stir memories. Bear Crossing, located just south of Dorset, will host an open house this weekend. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Stepping into Bear Crossing Antiques is a venture into another era.

The shop holds an inventory that defies description, and captures the imagination.

Joel and Heather Steffel moved to the home located a half-mile south of Dorset on Highway 226 eight years ago.

"It's a great location," said Heather, who grew up surrounded by antiques. Her parents, Bob and Melly Weis, own a dealership in southern Minnesota. "We decided to see what we could do."

A business that began in the garage is now based in a log building, reflecting the store's signature primitives.

Daughters Madison, 10, and Whitney, 8, are now third generation antique connoisseurs, assisting with set up, price tags and unloading.

Madison and her friends find the spot to be a scavenger hunter's dream.

"They remind me of me," said Heather, who developed an appreciation for days of yore as a youngster.

The Steffels comb a multi-state area in search of antiques. "And sometimes they find us," Joel said of phone calls.

The family attends a three-day sale in Oronoco in mid-August to buy and sell goods; 150,000 attend the event.

Heather also has a fondness for garage sales. "We find treasures all over," she said of traveling an itinerary of sales Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with her daughters.

The shop holds a hodgepodge: hunting and fishing decoys, old advertising signs, Red Wing pottery, taxidermy, embroidered towels, skis, pails, benches, chairs and trunks.

Primitive furniture adds an accent to any room of the home.

Looking for the unusual? Look no further. A spindle shaped cradle, raccoon skin camp chair or an old time cart with a beast of burden at the fore wait viewing.

This is the Steffels' second summer of operation, with the first open house of the season to be held this weekend, Saturday through Monday, May 23-25.

The show will feature the Steffels' new season of finds and the Weises' refinished furniture.

Wind and Willow dips and cheese balls are also available.

Additional shows will be held July 3-5 and July 31-Aug. 2.

"Or if you see the sign, we're open," Heather said.