Auction house opens in Elkader

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

Kyana Taillon and Deb Schmidt show off some of the products available at the new Elkader Auction House, which recently opened at 110 Mulberry St.

By Kyana Taillon, Special to the Times-Register


Elkader’s Twisted Alley 2 is getting a twist! This month, shop owner and Elkader City Council member Deb Schmidt is handing over her warehouse alley location to a new local business: the Elkader Auction House. Schmidt’s remaining inventory is up for auction on the new site. The online-only auction ends Thursday, Dec. 1, and lots begin closing at 6 p.m. 


The owner of the Elkader Auction House, Kyana Taillon, credited Schmidt for inspiring and encouraging her to consider a local business, and to “follow her own path,” as Schmidt offered her the opportunity for the space. Taillon, an Elkader resident who is coincidentally living in the historic Schmidt house (no relation), has operated an online vintage and antique clothing business, Roselein Rarities, full time since 2011. She said the arrangement with Schmidt is serendipitous. 


“I’ve always considered doing something more localized,” Taillon said, “but I wanted to find the right business and location to benefit the community before jumping into it. I fell in love with the Elkader area’s Driftless landscape, historic buildings and quiet but lively atmosphere a few years ago, and we’re thrilled to have found our dream home here. I’ll always appreciate the opportunity.”


The space, located across from the Elkader Post Office, in the alley at 110 Mulberry St., is a 2,000-square-foot former agricultural implement and repair business built in the 1930s. There are few windows and mostly unobstructed space, so it’s ideal for busy auction activity.  


In addition to Schmidt’s inventory of things like vintage crocks, primitive decor and glassware, Taillon has a large collection of vintage housewares and decor, including many unique and colorful retro and mid-century wares up for auction.


“Kyana is a life saver,” Schmidt said. “I was drowning trying to run two businesses and wasn’t able to get that second one open all the time. It didn’t offer Elkader a good opportunity for growth. So, it’s a win for both of us. I can have more time with my grandbabies who live with us now, and she truly will be an asset to our town.”


Today’s definition of an auction may vary from the live, in-person auctions with fast-talking auctioneers people were familiar with before the internet age, and more recently, before the COVID-era, when nearly all auction houses converted to online-only by necessity. Though some auctions are now being held exclusively in-person, Taillon wants to eventually simulcast her auctions, a combination of internet and in-person bidding. 


“Over the years, I’ve purchased a lot of personal vintage clothing collections, and often the sellers say they wish I could help them find good homes and good prices for more of their older valuables,” Taillon said. “Since most of my sales have been to metropolitan areas, my vision is to use my skills and connections to help locals expand the market for their collections they want to sell, while having everything available for pickup in Elkader as well.”


Over this past summer, Taillon was one of the first women’s clothing sellers on Whatnot, a live-auctioning app, and was known for her entertaining, educational and vintage-themed shows. One especially fun live auction was a disco-themed 1970s roller-skating party with a live model. 


Taillon’s shop has been featured in national magazines due to her rare, collectible clothing that she specializes in photographing as complete outfits—shoes, hats, jewelry, parasols, purses and so on—on live models. Before becoming a vintage seller, she was an award-winning professional photographer on the northern California coast. 


For pictures of the items and lots in this auction, Taillon wanted to capture the essence of Twisted Alley by incorporating its primitive-style chippy doors, rustic textured walls and Schmidt’s husband Roger’s colorful handmade table surfaces as backgrounds. Once the first auction round is complete, Taillon plans to turn some of the space into themed studio space for the various types of objects she’ll be photographing. 


Putting together collections of similarly styled vintage items isn’t new to her. For example, she’s put together a few different collections of all natural wicker pieces from the 1970s, arranged them all in a pleasing way and photographed a model within the setting—wearing true vintage clothing, of course. All the pieces were then offered for sale in her online shop, and the unique pictures drew a lot of attention. 


Taillon has been an auction-goer her whole life and recalls attending Amish auctions with her parents in the Black River Falls, Wis., area where she grew up. Since moving to Iowa nine years ago, she’s gotten acquainted with regional auctions, and often attends simply to view and learn about old things. Her social media is focused on the fashion-related history videos she makes, and is adapting that specialty to create videos that educate and entice followers to participate in auctions. One of the most recent was a quick, one-minute video she made starring Schmidt wearing a Victorian-style dress and hat. 


“Deb was such a sport,” Taillon said. “We had a lot of fun. The video gave us a chance to quickly showcase some of the items and to shine a little humor and personality.”


Some might even call Taillon an auction hound, which would be appropriate considering she created an “auction hound” portrait logo of her little black dog, Jack. She cited the heavy use of black-cat imagery in the late 1800s and early 1900s as inspiration for its design. 


“There’s an expanding audience of young generations who long for the nostalgia of things of the past,” Taillon said. “Our modern world has changed so drastically over the past century that I think it’s important to cultivate as much knowledge from older generations while we can, and share it with the world.” 


For her, running an auction house is the next logical step to help accomplish that. She and many of her contacts gravitate toward vintage and antiques of the feminine variety, such as women’s clothing, textiles and vanity items, as well as art, furniture and lighting. 


“The lives of the women who lived before us have always been so intriguing to me—the things that were close to them in their daily lives and the things that they made with their own hands are so incredibly special,” she said.  


One of Taillon’s favorite things are antique “crazy quilts,” as they’re handmade with scraps of clothing—usually a lot of velvet—from the days when women made most of their family’s clothing, and usually embellished with personalized hand-embroidery. Taillon can usually be seen wearing vintage clothing, and has a particular admiration for Victorian dresses and styles of the 1940s and earlier. She hopes to showcase pieces from her own collection as well as accept consignments for other collectible clothing.


Taillon’s volunteer work this year for Shepherd of the Hills Ministries in St. Olaf has re-sparked her need for human connection and her drive to help people. Shepherd Director Heather Hageman called her “a ray of sunshine” and asks her to fill in for her on occasion. Taillon has worked for and with historic and non-profit organizations wherever she’s lived, and has organized vintage fashion shows, presentations and community projects. 


Taillon knows an auction house will be a huge job and will take some time to get established. Her husband, Jesse, has a wide range of knowledge on antique ephemera, and will help behind the scenes as office manager and researcher. They hope to be able to hire locally in 2023, and they have another auction scheduled to start on Dec. 1, as well. They are now accepting consignments for upcoming auctions, including estate liquidations.


Schmidt can already attest to Taillon’s determination. “Kyana’s awesome at marketing with a hubby to back and support her just like I have in Roger,” she said. “We have so much in common. She has the excitement in her voice. At one time, not too many could keep up with me, but in Kyana I’ve met my match, indeed. She has the drive, the creativity and, most of all, the dream.” 


Visit to view the auction, and ElkaderAuctionHouse on Instagram and Facebook has the latest updates and more videos.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet