Hannah Cordes, new owner of Aspen Grove, and her brother Tim, left, son Isaac and husband, Bob, greet visitors at the store’s reopening on Sunday. Photo by Laurelle Walsh

Hannah Cordes, new owner of Aspen Grove, and her brother Tim, left, son Isaac and husband, Bob, greet visitors at the store’s reopening on Sunday. Photo by Laurelle Walsh

By Laurelle Walsh

Downtown Winthrop’s home and gift store, Aspen Grove, has a renewed focus and a fresh outlook under the direction of new owner Hannah Cordes.

After a short closure and a remodel that opened up the front windows, Aspen Grove celebrated its grand re-opening with an open house on Sunday (April 6). Curious visitors and loyal customers who wandered through the open doors were greeted by Cordes, her husband, Bob, and son Isaac, a junior at Liberty Bell High School.

Her older son Sam, who had to get back to the University of Oregon, “was very involved in getting the store up and running,” Cordes said.

Cordes has shifted the store’s emphasis toward kitchenware, with a range of gadgets, linens, decor and table settings. Aspen Grove also carries regional and Methow-made food and beverages such as Lost River wines, hard cider from Methow Valley Ciderhouse and Orondo Cider Works, and “a really great olive oil made in Oregon,” she said.

“My goal is to encourage people to have fun in the kitchen and lay a beautiful table,” said Cordes, who wants shopping at Aspen Grove to be “a comfortable, welcoming experience.

“Cooking doesn’t have to be overwhelming,” she said, adding that with a few tools and fresh, local ingredients, people can create something simple and good for their families.

Cordes draws on her experience as a professional chef at Hillel UW in Seattle and as a food blogger. The blog, www.bluekaleroad.com, features recipes and photos of her creations, cookbook reviews, and anecdotes about life.

She now can share her love of cooking — and the cookbooks she has reviewed — with Methow Valley cooks.

Though Cordes never planned to own a store, she has gathered ideas and inspiration from “lots of different kitchen stores” she’s visited over the years, she said. “You just never know what life is going to bring,” she added.

Cordes and her family moved to the Methow Valley full-time last summer, after going back and forth for two years between their Winthrop-area cabin and Seattle home, she said.

She began talking to Aspen Grove’s former owners, Linda and Tom Niepoth, about purchasing the business last fall and signed documents a few months later. “I see this as a nice way to join the community,” Cordes said. “And Linda did such a great job starting this business, I just want to carry on what she began.

“I would also love to hear from the community what they’re looking for,” she added.

Aspen Grove, at 156 Riverside Ave. in Winthrop, is open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.– 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information call 996-2009 or go to www.aspengrovehome.com.