Monika, the owner, was born in Dessau in what became East Germany after WW II. She still remembers being underground in air raid shelters during the bombings in 1944 and 1945 although she was only three years old at the time. They lived under Russian troop occupation and then under the communist East German regime. Her father had been put in prison because he had mentioned to a friend that he was going to Berlin to see how things were in the “West”. Monika and her sister were taken away from their mother and lived in an orphanage for two years because the authorities questioned the parenting ability of anyone wanting to go to the West. They were returned to their mother in 1954. Her mother wasted no time in planning an escape to West Germany with Monika and her younger sister. They took nothing with them except an invitation to a fake wedding and a small overnight bag. They managed to get to West Germany by using this fake invitation to the wedding in Berlin. They took a subway train to West Berlin during rush hour and lived in a refuge camp for six months. Later they were moved to a small town in southwestern West Germany where there was employment in a shoe factory. Her father was released from prison and joined them several years later after promising the East German authorities that he could go to the West and bring them back. Monika worked in a shoe factory until she married an American serviceman at age sixteen and moved to the USA. She learned English by watching cartoons on television. Monika started teaching painting classes as part of a hobby and soon learned that there was no place to obtain art supplies in Park Rapids. She and her husband took out a mortgage on their home, obtained a tax number, and naively opened an artist supply store in their basement in 1984. The next year they rented a small area on Main street in Park Rapids. Monika worked in the local hospital as a scrub nurse while her husband who had retired from military service worked in the store. Not much later her husband passed away and she had to make a major decision…Close the store or quit the scrub nurse profession. Fortunately, as things turned out the decision to work full time in the store was a good decision.
Don entered the scene in late 1987. He grew up in Park Rapids and went on to Hamline University to obtain degrees in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. He worked on the Mesabi Iron Range for two and one-half years as an analytical chemist. At that point in his career, he decided that the position did not have a great future so he quit and went on to graduate school at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He graduated with an M. S. and a Ph. D. degree in analytical chemistry with minors in inorganic chemistry and ceramics. After a career as a research chemist at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady New York, he retired and returned to his roots in Park Rapids. Don and Monika met at a lunch counter. Monika was taking a break from the shop and Don had just finished a tutoring session in math with a high school student. After a whirlwind courtship, Don and Monika were married in 1988. Monika is the owner of the shop and it was through her efforts and energy that the store morphed from a small frame shop and art supply store to a full-fledged quilt shop with over 5000 square feet of merchandise space. The picture framing business, the art supply, and the craft supply inventories have been sold or discontinued. Monika’s is now devoted to fabrics, yarns, and associated supplies. Monika produces quilts, patterns, and keeps the store functioning while Don handles the computer problems, bookkeeping, and snow shoveling. Don returned to school for the third time at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minnesota where he is taking advanced computer courses and tutoring several chemistry courses. Sadly, we lost Don in the summer of 2014, but his enthusiasm for life remains present in spirit at the shop, where you’ll find little touches of him, including his Loon Tabletopper.