It’s summer, and heat is about all that is really happening here, and everyone is already writing about it or announcing it, so I thought I might just tell you during a recent visit to Ohio, we went to Dresden, Ohio. For Longaberger basket collectors, you already recognize that name: a handmade basket company originally formed in 1919.
My friend really wanted to see how it looked today; being that the company had closed its wildly popular basket making business. Some of you might even remember that the company built its headquarters in a seven-story office building that looked like a giant basket with two, two-ton handles across the top in Newark, Ohio. It was mentioned in newspapers across the country.
When Dave Longaberger died of kidney cancer, his daughters took the helm of the business, but seemed to change the direction their father had been going, and slowly the business died. Dave was from a very large family, and they all helped, but without the genius of Dave Longaberger, the business just couldn’t survive.
The location of the original business was Dresden, and the manufacturing building was located in Frazeysburg, Ohio, which then spread out into other surrounding areas. Dresden had many Longaberger shops, and multiple gift shops that spun off the master business, including restaurants, packing companies, a department store, hotels and bed and breakfasts, dress shops, purses, jewelry and more.
Many businesses died after Dave left this Earth, but others tried to survive. I’ve been back there a few times, and they are making a valiant effort to keep their heads above water, but with so many darling store fronts still visible but closed and the streets looking deserted, we felt they couldn’t hold on much longer, BUT… We arrived and found a new life beginning to emerge! There were only a few shops left from the past, loaded with lots of stock and baskets and parts, and a new shop that just opened two weeks ago! The owner told us that the businesses are working on a comeback, and the Longaberger basket weavers of old are forming a new company and beginning to make baskets again, now under a new name: Dresden & Company.
The Longaberger daughters are planning to pull together a new business before the end of the year. The community is excited and very hopeful. They are distributing a registry and visitors guide called Destination Dresden and have formed an organization called Dresden Community Association, firstname.lastname@example.org.
During July the Dresden community held a Dresden Homecoming, and the big event for July was the Dave Longaberger Legacy Dinner at The Virtues Golf Course in Nashport, Ohio. I understand they had hundreds of people attend from as far away as California! There were speakers, shopping, music, and more. The merchants were saying it was thrilling to see so many people in town.
Coming up next is the Dresden Melon Festival on August 3rd, an all-day event at Dresden River Park. A fun fact: Dresden village was established in 1817.
Why am I writing this? Because so many people come from Ohio, and some of those, and others, are basket collectors and interested in knowing what happened to that company, and probably even more interested to learn that it might be resurrected. I was a collector and supporter and even sold the baskets for a while. I still use them in my little country designed home to give it warm and welcoming feeling.