This post has been in my draft box for a long longgg time. I think because writing it is so bittersweet. The Longaberger company has always been a company that I LOVED the products from. The handmade baskets, the pottery, I simply loved the stuff at a time when I really could not afford it! The “heyday” for the company so to speak was back in the mid 90’s (about the time I was in high school) and just after (when I was a struggling college student working her way through nursing school.) Let’s face it- I had no money and despite my attempts to at one time sell it for a discount, I still did not have the funds.
Fast forward to the here and now. I had promised my mom, who was a Longeaberger lover like me…that I would one day take her to the home offices in Dresden, Ohio so she could tour the factory and watch the basket makers at work. I had always wanted to see this massive operation myself, and what better way to help your mom cross something off her bucket list than drive her the 10 hours there, throw in your daughter and make a mother/daughter weekend out of it? Perfect!
We had it all planned. I would drive, we would take the factory tour (call ahead of course and reserve a time as reservations are recommended…) and see the place we had both always longed to see.
We left on a Tuesday in August- mid-week would be perfect. Lines would be down despite the peak of travel season. Our goal would be to see the town of Dresden, the factory tour and the large home office built to resemble a Longaberger basket.
Frankly——– I hate to say it——–but it was such a disappointment.
The best part was experiencing it with my mom and daughter as we had always planned. But the grounds…. oh my goodness the grounds… they are BARREN. Driving onto the complex you pass a guard shack that has not been occupied since the early 2000’s. The daycare center for employees was so barren, abandoned, and overgrown we had to ask someone what was under and behind all the brush that had grown up and around it. The main buildings massive circular drive was closed off with construction cones and was so overgrown that once we drove around the cones to see it the building itself was unrecognizable. The company timeline in the visitor center had not been updated since 2000.
We had made a “reservation” why I do not know as there was a grand total of six…. six adults on the tour and my daughter. How sad.
One lady kept saying that she had taken the tour back in the heyday and it was so packed you were only allowed to walk around the upstairs catwalk. Lines and lines of shut down basket maker stations stand unused. The few basket makers left pump out the reminder of the product by hand and are more than happy to show you how it is done.
The saddest part is of the thousands of employees that once graced those hallways only roughly 250 are left. So sad.
I am glad I went. I am glad to have fullfilled the bucket list item on my list and my moms list. I am all about seeing new things and seeing the factory and taking the tour and seeing the home office are all things I have wanted to do. So I have no regrets. I also bought a ton, got a discount at the on grounds store and filled the back end of my van with purchases on my way home.
I just am sad to see the decline of this great company and appreciate that I had an opportunity to see it’s “home” even though the founders are long gone.
Till my next adventure!