Could it become America’s new expression?
Possibly — if Brad and Heather Fox’s new HGTV series, “Stay or Sell,” becomes a hit.
“I’m Minnesota born and raised,” Brad says, “but I never thought I had a Minnesota accent.”
Social media disagrees — and lets him know.
“Apparently, every time someone needed to walk by me, or I was in the way, I said, ‘Ope!'” Brad says. “Constantly.”
“It’s so funny,” says Heather.
Wait, do we say that? Is “Ope” to Minnesotans what “Eh” is to Canadians?
Tune in at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and count the “Opes” as Brad and Heather help families decide whether it’s time to move or renovate.
It’s not just for show, though: The couple, through Minnetonka-based Fox Homes, really does help people buy, sell, design, remodel or build homes. The Minnesota business was “discovered” a few years ago.
It almost wasn’t a connection, though.
“Brad hung up on them,” says Heather.
“I thought it was a scam,” says Brad.
“They said, ‘We found you on Facebook,'” says Heather. “That’s how they found our blog with before-and-after photos.”
The result was a pilot; the result of the pilot was the first season. The second of the eight episodes will air tonight on HGTV.
Unfortunately, winter is a co-star along with the couple’s Scandinavian/Nordic design style: The show began filming last November — which means we get to relive the Polar vortex. Also, the episodes focus on the west metro.
“In our real life, we do work in St. Paul, too,” Heather says, “but because we had eight episodes to do in such a short period of time — we were sometimes hitting three houses a day — it was important for everyone to be five or 10 minutes away from each project.”
But St. Paul isn’t totally iced out: The show features the work of St. Paul artists Colleen Elizabeth and Hayley Kolar.
“We tried to highlight the work of many local people,” Heather says. “I have a huge heart for local artisans and it’s exciting to be able to feature them and share the national platform with them.”
They also shop local, too, including Golden Age Design of Robbinsdale, which focuses on restored mid-century and Danish modern furniture, art and decor, and also Haus Theory in North St. Paul.
“It’s a really cool place where I’ve found awesome vintage things,” says Heather of the North St. Paul store.
The television show’s location might be Minnesota, but the dilemma is national.
“In the 2000s,” Brad says, “everyone was moving farther and farther out. More recently, especially in the last five years, people don’t want to live 45 minutes out of the city. They want to be in the city and close to restaurants and shops. So when they grow out of their starter home, the alternative they face is: ‘Do we need to move 30 minutes away or can we find a way to create what we need in our neighborhood or nearby?'”
In terms of staging the homes for the big reveal, Heather wants us to know something:
“One question we get a ton: ‘You just take everything out after you leave, right?'” Heather says.
No, they don’t.
“Ninety percent of what you see in the houses during the reveal stays there,” she says.
This involves working with the clients on what they already have, figuring out their budget for furniture and home goods and going shopping at places including Facebook swap groups.
It’s a lot of work — especially because Heather and her team decorate every room, not just the ones shown on tv — but it’s worth it to them.
“Brad and I are passionate about not doing these houses for fun and then taking everything away,” says Heather.
As for a second season?
“We’re in limbo right now, just doing our own thing,” Heather says, “but we’d love to do it if it works out.”
She thinks, now that they’ve experienced one season, they’d be even better at playing themselves on — and off — TV for a second. It’s quite a juggle.
“I wouldn’t be as tired,” she says with a laugh.
Their sons, Graham, almost 8, and Wesley, 3, are ok with it, too — especially Graham.
“Graham absolutely loves HGTV … he loves the reno,” says Heather. “Wesley could care less — He says, ‘Mom, it’s not my thing.’ We laugh that Wesley will keep us humble.”