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Story #92Two Cookin’ SistersBrookston, IN

My ultimate goal is to get people to stop and shop in Brookston.

It started with the peppers. Kristi Rensberger started making salsa with a recipe based around unique peppers that grow well in the state of Indiana, and it wasn’t long before people began encouraging her to sell it. She and her sister, Kim Robinson, rented a kitchen and made 200 jars to sell at a local craft show, and Two Cookin’ Sisters was born. In 2005 they opened their retail location in downtown Brookston, Ind., where in addition to salsa they sell homemade jam, pickles and specialty goods sourced from local makers.

The timing was perfect for Two Cookin’ Sisters, as the early 2000s saw a movement towards locally sourced products. “We were riding a wave we didn’t even know was there yet,” says Robinson. “At our retail shop we promote our products but also specialty products made in our state.” Robinson sees their storefront as an opportunity to build downtown Brookston, giving visitors more of a reason to stop and shop. As it is, their business is 75 percent tourists and 25 percent local.

“As small as we are, we experience everything,” says Robinson. “There are small celebrations every day.” One of the things that makes her happiest is being able to show customers how many great things are made in the state of Indiana. “Those are the things that we revel in, that’s the stuff you take home.”

Robinson hopes that the future holds a big deal for their flagship product, Big Sister Salsa, allowing the business to breathe a bit so she can take more time to focus on the downtown Brookston community. “You’ve got a generation of people retiring and moving on with their lives, and I feel like I’m part of that generation that needs to step up and take care of the flower beds.”

 

Photos by Christina Clusiau

 

Update: Two Cookin’ Sisters are entering a new chapter of their story, and though their retail shop is now closed, Big Sister Salsa can be purchased online and for wholesale. Visit their website for more information.

  • The mural outside Two Cookin’ Sisters in downtown Brookston, Ind. Owner Kim Robinson raised the money for the mural on Kickstarter as part of her efforts to improve downtown Brookston.

  • Kim Robinson, co-owner of Two Cookin’ Sisters, at work in her office. Robinson hopes that in the future she can cut back a bit on the time she spends at the shop and focus on doing more for the community.

  • The Two Cookin’ Sisters, Kim Robinson (left) and Kristi Rensberger (right).

  • Downtown Brookston, Ind., home to Two Cookin’ Sisters. Kim Robinson sees their storefront as an opportunity to build up downtown Brookston, giving visitors more of a reason to stop and shop.

  • Postcards for sale at Two Cookin’ Sisters in Brookston, Ind. “Fifteen years ago, no one knew what was made in Indiana,” says owner Kim Robinson. “But over time we’ve seen a big push for this in our state. We were riding a wave we didn’t even know was there yet.”

  • Two Cookin’ Sisters in Brookston, Ind. In addition to the sisters’ products, the space is home to an ice cream shop and a “Made In IN” shop featuring products made locally.

  • Customers browsing at the Two Cookin’ Sisters retail shop in downtown Brookston, Ind. Approximately 75 percent of their business comes from tourists, and owner Kim Robinson loves surprising people with how many great things are made in Indiana.

  • Kim Robinson and Kristi Rensberger’s father also helps out at the shop, and can usually be found in the back labeling products.

  • Jars of Big Sister Salsa, the flagship product made by Two Cookin’ Sisters. Older sister Kristi Rensberger started making the salsa with a recipe based around unique peppers that grow well in the state of Indiana, and it wasn’t long before people began encouraging her to sell it.

  • Carolyn Robinson in the kitchen at Two Cookin’ Sisters in Brookston, Ind.

  • Carolyn Robinson, mother of Kim Robinson and Kristi Rensberger of Two Cookin’ Sisters, still helps out in the kitchen every day and is the mastermind behind many of their recipes.

  • The mural outside Two Cookin’ Sisters in downtown Brookston, Ind. Owner Kim Robinson raised the money for the mural on Kickstarter as part of her efforts to improve downtown Brookston.

Business Details

Proprietor: Kim Robinson, Kristi Rensberger
Brookston, IN 47923
PH: 765-563-7377 / Website
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