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Bystroms combine past interests in new Ellsworth business

Take a pinch of the old and the new, stir in the fresh and the seasoned, add some goods for both mind and body.

Mix in a family's worth of interests and skills. The result is a recipe for The Roadside, a new business opened late last month by Dean and Nancy Bystrom, and their son Chris, in the building most recently housing Creative Baskets and Gifts along Hwy. 10-63 west of Ellsworth.

Like any valued recipe, their venture isn't comprised of all equal parts. Chris' desire for more space to repair others' computers (an idea he's harbored for a half-dozen years) drove the enterprise as much as anything, they said Wednesday.

"He builds them from scratch," Dean said about the 22-year-old technician, who indicated he mainly favors working with computer hardware.

Then there's the parents' expertise in growing produce. Their easily-accessed-from-the-road stand will offer a variety of fresh vegetables, direct from the Bystroms' farm to customers. Its availability will vary with growing conditions; they thought their bean crop would be especially ready by this week.

"We'll sell it by the pound or the bushel," Dean said about the veggies.

Another aspect of the outlet will be an array of antiques, though lesser emphasized. Dean showed a selection of glassware and other household items. He described it as "good useable stuff."

"I've been collecting antiques for 40 years," he said, noting his wife is an avid collector as well. The couple's collection grew so much that, before they ever got sales at their new site underway, they had eight auctions back home to reduce it.

Capable chefs don't follow recipes exactly, preferring a bit of trial and error. The Bystroms' approach to building their business is similar.

"We experimented (with growing produce) on the farm last year," Dean said. They hope to develop a "want list," he added, enabling patrons to tell them what they'd like to buy.

He shared a list of possibilities, literally ranging from A (acorn squash) to Z (zucchini). In their acre-sized garden this season, they've got tomatoes (500 plants), cucumbers, squash and more. They're relying on compost and fighting an abundance of weeds.

Later on, they plan to bring in corn and pumpkins, he said. They're also raising chickens.

"We'll have fresh eggs here by the end of the summer," he said.

Even Chris' focus on computer fixing isn't a done deal. He said he'll try free computer recycling, meaning he'll take non-working machines and glean them for parts. He'll sell wholesale and resell new parts, too.

Read more in the print version of the Herald July 9.