Kennon-Green & Co. Fiduciary Financial Advisor, Wealth Management, Global Value Investing

We finally arrived after our drive from Santa Barbara to Solvang and this place is like a time warp!  The whole village is old-school Danish, complete with windmills, brewing companies, bakeries, toy stores, candles; it’s legit.  You can rent bicycles and ride around the streets or go pick up an expensive carved cuckoo clock.  I loved it, though I wish they had a neighboring town that was modeled after Sweden because I would love me some lingonberries and meatballs right now.  Maybe they had them and I didn’t look hard enough?  I can picture it now … Abba music would be blasting in the background, everyone would be 6’5″ with blond hair, a giant IKEA would loom in the background, and half the population would be employed the mobile phone technology sector.

We have a few ethnic towns like this in the Midwest, but they are Amish and sell fruitcakes and furniture.

Welcome to Solvang

We have arrived in the Danish town of Solvang, California!

Pancakes Beer and Coffee in Solvang

It’s pancakes, beer, coffee, bakeries, windmills, and gift shops …

More Solvang Shops

It was an interesting mix of people checking out the little retailers, restaurants, and knickknacks. The Danish-style inns had bicycles you could take and ride around the city, and it must have been a busy day because many had “No Vacancy” notices.

Beautiful Sunlight in Solvang

The sunlight was beautiful on the streets as we meandered through shops, looking at assortments ranging from intricate music boxes to Mickey Mouse figurines …

Streets of Solvang with Mountain

I can see the appeal of little towns like this.  I think there might be a huge opportunity for a real estate development company to create themed villages instead of just McMansions.  There’s a market for it.  Imagine living in a village like The Shire from Lord of the Rings, or a Swiss-style town.

Interesting Mix of Products Solvang

Apparently there’s a market for a lot more than that. Interesting mix of products you have there, Solvang … Some classy customers must come through this joint.  What motivates the purchaser of the Barack Obama Chia pet?  Or the Hillary Clinton nut cracker?  I should have asked the guy you see in the reflection as he was checking out the merchandise.

Mortensen's Danish Bakery Solvang

Aaron got himself a blueberry something-or-other from the Mortensen’s Baking company …

Danish Baking Company In Solvang

This is just another view of the building …

Solvang Bakery

I took some pictures of the bakery while Aaron looked for something to try …

Solvang Pastries and Cookies

… More pastries, cookies, and cakes in the Danish bakery … I appreciated it, I really did, but my inner hedonist thinks the French have this down better.  When I walk in, I want to see rows of gleaming fruit pastries, drizzling chocolate desserts, and whipped cream so high Jesus himself can taste it.  The French understand it’s about seduction.  This is too practical.  I want fried apples gleaming like the gold of El Dorado.  I want rolls of bread in overflowing baskets.  I want strawberries so shiny with syrup that you’d think they were a new car under showroom lights.  I want customers to be willing to trade their birthright like Esau for just a bit of satiation.  This display makes me want to buy insurance and perhaps responsibly discuss politics.  It moves my head, not my heart.

Cupcakes in Solvang

There was a cupcake memorabilia shop in the bakery … Curiously, they weren’t really selling a lot of cupcakes (we have one on every street corner back home so the dearth of them here is a bit odd).

Horse Trolley in Solvang

This reminds me of home, on the Country Club Plaza where horse drawn carriages are pulling people …

Pedaling in Solvang

People are riding around in pedal cars …

Solvang Brewing Company with Windmill

Here’s another windmill and another brewing company … I’m guessing these aren’t, actually, working windmills?  Who knows?  Maybe they are …

Dansk Solvang

No idea what this …

Solvang Streets

There are cuckoo clock shops, cookie jars, Christmas ornament stores … how did this develop?  Was it planned?  Did the town slowly retrofit to capitalize on the tourism?  Are there tourist taxes?  What’s the municipal budget look like?  These are the things going through my mind …

Storefronts in Solvang

I wonder how successful a business here would be. I have no basis to value it. I can generally walk into a retailer and give you a rough estimate but I’m totally in the dark on these niche vendors … I wonder if they behave like the Danish people.  They are typically the happiest folks on Earth, yet their tolerance for debt would make an American go weak at the knees.  They use more debt per capita than any other group of people, levering up for everything.  Their economists insist it’s no big deal, but ………….

Windmill In Solvang Sky

This whole thing is very pleasant. I’m glad we made this detour.

We’re going to check out some of the farms in Ojai.  I’m not sure if we’d want to go to the trouble of owning or living on a productive farming operation, but that can always be outsourced in a fairly simply arrangement.  As with everything in my life, I won’t say no until I’ve researched it and weighed the options, costs, and benefits.