Last April Alan Wenell, owner of the Strawhorse in Albert City says he felt burned out, business had been slow. He closed his shop after 10 years in business but the store was soon missed from its main street presence.
"People kept saying how they missed it," says Wenell. He said talk began around town about what it might take to reopen the gift shop.
By August paperwork was started after a group of ladies decided to invest in the business and reopen it. Wenell said there was nothing left in the shop after it was sold at an auction so the ladies say they had to start over from scratch. They reopened the Strawhorse LLC in the middle of October with all volunteer labor. "Before Christmas we called it the Miracle on Mainstreet," says volunteer investor Doris Fondray. During the fall other businesses had also opened up on Mainstreet including M&J Creations, AC Fitness Center and Twisted Spoon Cafe. The ladies say they were encouraged by the new business especially after the devastating loss of City Market - the Main Street grocery store which was destroyed by fire this past summer.
"It's been fun, the most rewarding thing is when everyone comes in and says we're glad you're open again," says volunteer investor Nola Josephson. The ladies said they chose to reopen the shop for the community and know it was a needed shop. "We asked Al to come back and be our manager, because none of us knew anything about running a store," says Josephson with a chuckle. But they've learned a lot along the way and have had a lot of fun in the process, they said.
The shop sells paper products, sewing supplies, cards, Swedish items, soup mixes, figurines, soy candles, wall art and other gift and decorative items. The ladies say they have several Swedish items in the store to keep the Albert City "how Swede it is," theme going. The shop also features a children's section which they hope to expand. The shop also has a wedding gift registry and free gift wrapping is also available.
The ladies are planning 'Cabin Fever Days' which will feature different activities and workshops this year available for community members to participate in especially those with "cabin fever," this winter. They will be promoting "going green," and volunteer Cindy Herrig will be leading the workshop on Jan. 22 about recycling greeting cards. Community members are encouraged to bring cards and learn creative ways to reuse the cards. For more information call 712-843-2225.
Other volunteers/investors include: Margo Forbes, Ellie Hillmer, Mary Johnson, Kari Kinkade, Sherryl Madson, Bev McGriff, Colleen Miller, Vivadelle Odell, Anna Marie Olson, Karen Sievers, Betty Swenson, D.J. Wenell and Marilyn Westholm.