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November 14, 2019

River House featured in Midwest Living magazine

by Connie Bickman

Ever since Midwest-CBK moved the historic Van Campen house from Mill and Third Streets and renovated it in 2002, they have continuously put the house, now called River House, to good use.

Lifestyle photography for Midwest-CBK catalogs, advertisements, website, and other company marketing materials are photographed in the River House. And editors of consumer and trade publications from across the country have been invited to photograph their stories in the Victorian era house.

"Each time a new editor visits River House for a photo shoot, they marvel at the beauty of the setting, of the house itself, of the craftsmanship, the light - the whole package. We're proud to call it our home," said Shelli Lissick, brand communications specialist for the company.

River House has been featured in national consumer magazines at least ten times, including four cover stories in Country Living, twice in Romantic Homes, and once each in Country Home, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, Midwest Living, and Mpls St. Paul Magazine.

River House has also been featured in a variety of trade publications like Gifts & Dec, Giftware News, Home Accents Today, and others. In addition, Midwest-CBK loans photography of the River House to both consumer and trade magazines.

The most recent publication to feature River House was Midwest Living in their May/June edition, where the article theme was "The Joy of The Porch." River House was featured on the cover, as well as six pages inside. A number of Midwest-CBK spring, garden and home decor designs were featured in the story, including a garden bench, decorative lanterns, flower pails, vases and figures.

The house was originally built in 1866 by Benjamin Van Campen, a prominent local settler. Midwest acquired the historic Italianate house in 2001, when it was destined for demolition, and moved it onto their Cannon Falls property, located just off Highway 52 South. With the assistance from designer Dennis Kalow, they renovated the home to be used as a showhouse for their holiday and giftware products.

In 2004, River House was named as an honoree in the Minnesota Preservation Awards by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.

The original Cannon Falls Midwest company began in 1953 as Seven Seas Gift Shop, started by Ken Althoff, and expanded into the wholesale trade market as Midwest Importers in 1964. The company remained in the Althoff family until 1997, when controlling interest was sold to Bain Capital, Inc., a Boston equity firm.

Blyth Inc., headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, acquired Midwest in 2001. Althoff retired in 1999, (he died in 2006), and his daughter, Kathy Brekken, president of the company since 1985, retired in 2003.

Colonial Candle became part of the Midwest-CBK family in 2005 (founded in 1909, they celebrated their 100th anniversary last year).

Blyth Inc. merged Midwest with sister company CBK in 2009, at which time the distribution center in Cannon Falls closed.

Midwest-CBK now offers three key brands: Seasons of Cannon Falls, Colonial Candle, and CBK Styles. The company operates offices, distribution facilities, and manufacturing plants in Cannon Falls; Elkin, North Carolina; Franklin and Union City, Tennesee; Hong Kong; and Shenzhen, China.

The holiday/giftware company, whose products sell in retail stores throughout the U.S., has 65 employees in Cannon Falls, plus sales reps, and operates nine U.S. wholesale showrooms.

Midwest-CBK continues to garner attention with both consumer and trade publications highlighting the company's giftware products, while featuring the famous Cannon Falls historic River House in their magazines.

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