Christmas craft house marks its last season here

Jerry Ann Lash offers handmade crafts, collectibles, handmade jewelry, antiques and other seasonal items at the Rainbow’s End Christmas house she and her husband, Jerry, have operated seasonally near Tecumseh for 20 years. The shop will close after its last day, Sunday, Dec. 1, before the Lashes’ Dec. 7 auction, when they will sell their property ahead of a move to Arizona. 2017 photo courtesy Zach Smith, Rural Missouri

Rainbow’s End, the seasonal Christmas-house craft shop tucked back in a holler east of Tecumseh, is coming to the end of the road after 20 years in annual business. 

Owners Jerry Ann and Jerry Lash say the shop on County Road 555, now open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, will close after its last day, Sunday, Dec. 1, and the remaining contents, as well as the Lashes’ 140-acre property, their remodeled century-old house and other buildings, plus antiques and miscellaneous items, will be auctioned beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday,  Dec. 7. 

Facing some health challenges, the Lashes are moving back to Arizona to be nearer their family. They will be missed in their community, especially by their fellow members in the Tecumseh Volunteer Fire Department, which Jerry Ann served as secretary for many years until retiring from the job two years ago; Jerry was also active in the fire department. Jerry Ann was also a frequent election judge.  

The couple came to Ozark County from Arizona in 1994, purchasing a run-down house of unknown age that was built by the legendary Tecumseh Lewis and was part of the farm that had belonged to the late Caleb and Zina Dean and their family in the 1930s. 

Jerry and Jerry Ann rehabbed the old house and, in 1999, opened Rainbow’s End, a craft and gift shop that operated Friday through Sunday from mid-October to mid-December in a 60-foot doublewide mobile home down the hill from their home.

The shop is a continuation of a similar business Jerry Ann ran in Arizona before they moved here. The name came from the two rainbows that appeared soon after they moved to their Ozark County property. “There were two rainbows out there,” Jerry Ann told writer Zach Smith for a 2017 story in Rural Missouri magazine. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s it. This is Rainbow’s End.’”

Smith wrote this description of the Christmas house in his Rural Missouri story: “A few steps inside and shoppers are welcomed into a warm wonderland of autumnal decor and gifts. Every nook and cranny is packed with crafts made by Jerry Ann and around 20 other crafters from south central Missouri and northern Arkansas. As the Christmas House caught on with local crafters the single trailer expanded into four other additions and buildings.

“Handmade jewelry, stuffed snowmen and clay Santa Clauses festoon Amish-built cabinets. Christmas trees dotted with ornaments sit alongside other pieces of art and antique furniture. One rustic-themed room houses a large wooden rocking horse sporting a hand-tooled leather saddle. On one wall next to a shelf full of kachina dolls is an intricate piece of intarsia – a mosaic painting made from different pieces of carved wood.”

Then, as now, Rainbow’s End shoppers are welcomed by a village of plaster gnomes who reside in various creative abodes Jerry Ann has created – or directed Jerry to create. The gnomes and other characters are whimsical creatures of Jerry Ann’s imagination that establish a mood of whimsey and fun alongside the spring branch that flows near the store’s front door.    

In previous years, the business included a tea room that served sandwiches and desserts. Rainbow’s End “has collected quite a following through the years,” Jerry Ann said, adding that the store is having another good year this year. It was so popular one year, in fact, that it attracted a busload of shoppers and diners from Mountain Home, Arkansas. Jerry Ann laughs at the memory. “That poor bus driver. He didn’t know if he was ever gonna get out of this country.”

Details of the Dec. 7 auction are still being worked out, Jerry Ann said Monday, but they expect to sell the business’ remaining merchandise as well as their remodeled home and the other buildings on their 140-acre property, along with a 2002 Ford Explorer, Jerry’s old tractors, furniture, antiques and assorted other items. 

Soon, they’ll be moving to a town in northern Arizona. Jerry Ann said they hate to leave Rainbow’s End, but after she endured a recent attack of arrhythmia, “my kids doubled-down and said it’s time for us to go.” Visiting the resort area in northern Arizona where they’ll be settling, she said, they saw signs that reassured her about their decision.

 “There was rainbow this and rainbow that,” she said,  “and I thought, ‘Well, OK then. I guess it’s meant to be.’”

Ozark County Times

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