From groceries to crafts and antiques, Pequot Lakes resident Cathy Malecha has seen several different sides of the retail business.
After taking a few years off from the business world when her husband, Al, died six years ago, she's now back right where she started.
In 1978, the Malechas moved to Pequot Lakes from Northfield and opened Lake Region Grocery on what is now Rasmussen Road. The grocery store did well for a while but closed in 1983 as other competing stores popped up. Malecha had other business endeavors between then and now, and her most recent project is Timeless Appeal, a store that opened in June next to Leslie's Boutique at the Country Corner Mall, right where Lake Region Grocery stood.
"I'm back where I started," Malecha said of the spot that most recently housed Fun Sisters. "It's changed a little bit, but I know where the shelves were and where the meat department was and where the milk coolers were."
Instead of meat and dairy products, Malecha now deals in crafts, antiques and other locally made goods. Timeless Appeal is chock-full of works from local artists, including paintings, sculptures and books; homemade soaps and other bathroom items; locally crafted furniture and decorations, some made by repurposing old objects; and both Victorian and rustic antiques.
The vendors whose products adorn the store come mostly from central Minnesota, ranging from St. Cloud to Pine River.
"I love antiques," Malecha said of her decision to open the store. "My granddaughters are in that late 20s, early 30s stage, and they constantly are going to places that are repurposing items and buying them for their homes."
The repurposing trend, Malecha said, is becoming more and more popular among younger generations, especially with the influence of the popular HGTV program "Fixer Upper," featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines, of Waco, Texas.
"We're getting rid of things," Malecha said of her generation, "but then these (younger generations) are willing to take those things and make them into something they'll use now."
The idea has proved successful, as Malecha said residents have responded well to the new store. And she was able to slip right back into the Pequot Lakes business community.
"We've got good business people in town. It's fun to work with all of them," she said. "It's kind of neat because I'm seeing old friends that I haven't seen in a long time. People bop in, and they're surprised to see me."
In terms of why she decided to take back her old retail space now, Malecha had a simple explanation: "It was empty."