The Country Register Story

It has been a life long love affair of handicrafts for Publisher Barbara Floyd, the founder of The Country Registers. As a child, she would crochet yards and yards of string and wrap it into a ball. In grade school, the teachers had her cutting construction paper letters for all the bulletin boards.

Every craft had to be tried throughout the years finally leading to a teaching degree with a minor in art along with a science major. Barbara's first teaching job in a Minneapolis high school included time in the art department. She and her husband left Minnesota for Arizona to start a ceramic studio in Prescott. Another art job presented itself at the junior high level.

Since Barbara has always been an entrepreneur at heart, it seemed only natural that, after raising four children, she would meld the business world with her love of handmade items. As a PTA mom, she got a taste of that combination by organizing one of the first, highly successful juried arts and crafts fundraisers in Arizona. When the school eventually phased out that event, Barbara moved it to her home creating an instant success. Soon home based arts and crafts shows became popular all over Phoenix.

Next Barbara opened a small gift shop close to home. Having a young daughter with the same talents and passions provided for a great lets-do-it-together project. Daughter Barbra-Jean eventually owned the shop, one of the first "country" shops in Arizona, in a subsequent location. 

Needing an effective yet affordable means of advertising their shop, Barbra-Jean suggested that her mom put out a promotional newspaper. Always a can-do person, Barbara thought that sounded like a good idea. So in Fall 1988, The Country Register made its debut featuring eight pages, printed in black and white, and with twenty-four advertisers. Some original advertisers that are still in business continue as steady, constant supporters of the Register to this day. 

This mother-daughter team then opened one of the first combined tea room and gift shops in the state in 1989. Under three different ownerships, Gooseberries Tea Room continued to operate until the end of 2011 in Phoenix. 

The Register has played a large role in the success and growth in Arizona of the industry it promotes. One of the publication's biggest strengths is forging bonds between shop owners, crafters, artisans, and customers. The Country Register of Arizona prints thirty-two or more pages, bimonthly, in full color. It is distributed without charge at its advertisers' locations as well as other 'well-traveled' sites.

Eventually, as popularity of the newspaper spread, people from other states approached Barbara for help in starting The Country Register in their own areas. Thus a licensing agreement for the nationally trademarked name and logo was arranged. Michigan became the second state to have The Country Register. There are now Country Registers in 45 states and in five provinces of Canada.

When Barbara semi-retired early in 2012 she was publishing The Country Registers of Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Nebraska as well as another publication she and her son Brook Floyd began in Arizona, The Antique Register. Brook has stayed somewhat involved by being the designer of The Country Register's website. Two of  her long time employees formed a partnership and bought and continue publishing all five publications that Barbara was producing. In her semi-retirement Barbara has taken on the co-ordination of "Love of Junk, Walla Walla's Vintage Market" to be held for the first time on June 14-15, 2013. Plans are for this to become an annual event on daughter Brenda and Doug Swenson's farm in Walla Walla.