Couple combines their creativity, craftsmanship at Picket Trail in Fostoria

Couple combines their creativity, craftsmanship at Picket Trail in Fostoria

FOSTORIA – A wife’s creative eye and her husband’s craftsmanship have led to a business that is expanding its hours and looking ahead to future growth.

Passersby on busy Highway 71 may notice the bright red front door and the signs outside of Picket Trail and wonder what’s inside.

Should they stop and walk through the door at 14 Hwy. 71, they’ll find an eclectic collection of antiques and custom-made furniture and decor for sale.


“A lot goes on here for two people to be running the show,” said Kathy Renken, who along with her husband, Dan, runs Picket Trail.

Picket Trail held an open house from 4-7 p.m. Thursday and will open June 7 and 8 at 10 a.m.

Visitors will find the couple’s skill sets match well. For custom pieces, Kathy does the majority of the design, while Dan does most of the building.


“He builds it, I paint it, sand it, whatever it needs,” Renken said. “I do the finish work.”

The result is a piece of furniture or decor with items re-imagined for their new purpose. Renken said they are very much inspired by popular HGTV shows “Fixer Upper” and “Flear Market Flip.”

“We try to take pieces and not just paint them, but recreate them totally,” Renken said. “Our specialty or the things that we kind of pride ourselves in is our one-of-a-kind design lighting and islands and then anything with our live-edge wood.”

Their love of antiquing led them down the reclaimed and repurposed route.


“He had always enjoyed scouting antique stores and flea markets as well as I did in the lakes area,” she said. “And I think the culmination of those excursions just kind of lent itself to repurposing.”

At first, the building that houses Picket Trail was Dan’s commercial cabinet store that he opened in September 2017. He had been a cabinet builder in Sioux Falls for 40 years.

Though they now live in Okoboji, the couple had been living in Sioux Falls before moving back in July 2017.

But Kathy’s no stranger to the area.

She had lived in Spencer for 25 years and for 10 of those years, she had worked for the Spencer Chamber of Commerce. She also worked for Iowa Hospice in Spirit Lake and Winkleblacks in Spencer.


“We had planned to live in Sioux Falls five years and my husband’s commercial cabinet shop pretty much relocated us back to this area,” she said.

The retail side opened for the occasional few hours in July 2018.

“Those were just occasional sales where we had weekend openings for sales in the retail side,” Renken said.

  • Inside the retail shop area at Picket Trail in Fostoria.
  • Inside the work space at Picket Trail in Fostoria. Woodworking equipment, bikes mounted.

Renken hopes to focus on selling local products.

“My mission is to sell local Iowa things,” Renken said, adding that the selection will expand as the store grows.

Kathy also expects to open a bistro later this summer. That will pair well with bike traffic from an eventual trail connecting Spencer to the lakes area that will run along the frontage road in front of Picket Trail.

Kathy is very connected to the local biking community. She started Clay County Trails after she rode a trail that goes from Jefferson to Des Moines. She realized then that a trail from Okoboji to Des Moines would need new connected trails in five counties.

Once the bike trail is eventually finished, Picket Trail will see even more regular traffic – aside from the estimated 10,000 cars that drive by each day.

“It lends itself to being busier than we’d ever imagined,” Renken said.

Her future plans for Picket Trail would make it a bicycle-themed destination. There are many bikes in the back work space waiting to be repurposed as furniture or decorative items.

“Long-term plans are like hosting vendor shows, musical entertainment, a place for the bike riders,” she said.


Comments are closed.

Get the news sent to you!

Don't miss out on what's happening in Spencer. Subscribe to the Signal's free, weekly newsletter.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed.