Owned by Dean and Carol “Orange” Schroeder, Orange Tree Imports also has a cooking school and wedding registry. Additionally, the owners have written several books about retailing and Danish cuisine.
The store has been named “Best Of Madison” several times, including 2017. They have also been awarded the Star of Madison and the Madison Favorite award.
Orange Tree Imports has been a work in progress from the start, a positive when it helps keep a retailer focused on a changing market.
“When we started the store, it was actually a branch of a Scandinavian furniture store called Bord & Stol,” said Carol Schroeder in a previous interview with GOURMET INSIDER. “That’s Danish for Table and Chair. Dean and I bought it and renamed it Orange Tree Imports. He kept his day job for a year. And so, the first year, we mostly were home accessories, gifts, candles, planters. This was in the mid ’70s, so those were some things that were big at the time. After we had the store for a year, Dean decided that he would like to be in retailing. Because of his interest in cooking, we decided to expand that department.”
In 1980, Orange Tree Imports closed for three months to remodel and add space, including a cooking school, which debuted in 1981. The addition allowed the company to expand gourmet product operations.
“Our only regret is that, when we built the addition in 1980, we allowed for a cooking school that could seat just 10 students. In retrospect, it would have been nice if it was a little bigger. But it makes for an intimate and enjoyable experience for our students. And the classes fill up quite quickly,” said Dean.