Visit the Republican-Leader website
July 10, 2008
SMALL TOWN BUSINESS
Shirt Factory brings shirts and much more to Lanesboro
PRESTON, Minnesota (STPNS) -- There aren't many stores in a town with a population of 700-something that can boast an international staff. But that's exactly what the newly-opened Shirt Factory in Lanesboro has.
"Cookie" Miron Harush, who grew up in Israel, manages the store for owners Gali Abutbul and Angela Vanderveer; Abutbul also grew up in Israel. Marina Savela, who works in the store, is from the Ukraine.
On any given day, customers may think they walked into a satellite of the United Nations: Harush speaks Hebrew and English (he started studying English in the fourth grade); his wife Jenny speaks English, Albanian, and understands Latin; and Savela speaks English, Ukrainian, and Russian.
Of course that raises a lot of curiosity about how they all ended up in Lanesboro. Abutbul and Vanderveer, the owners, live in Wisconsin Dells, and own similar stores in Walker and in Bayfield, Wis., so they do a bit of traveling.
They had heard a lot about Lanesboro, and decided to check it out. They ended up renting what was the Capron Hardware Store on Parkway Avenue, and the spring months were spent painting, installing new displays, and building all of the tables and counters. Virtually everything in the store is new except the old tin-stamped ceiling. The store had a "soft opening" in May, with the official opening on Memorial Day weekend.
Harush brings a lot of experience to his job as manager. He had managed stores "back home" in Israel, including Nine West shoe stores. He's done a lot of traveling, including all over Europe. He actually first came to the United States in 2003, to travel, and "just got stuck."
He has managed to visit Las Vegas, New York, Florida, Chicago, and Colorado. He was living in Los Angeles before going to visit a good friend in Wisconsin, and ended up staying there - "stuck" again. He met his wife, Jenny, in Wisconsin, and they now live in Loganville there, with their five cats. Jenny is also in the tourism business.
Harush still has ties in Israel. He recently returned from having spent four months there because his mother had been diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma. While he was there, she had a bone marrow transplant and is currently doing much better. He also still has two sisters there.
Savela brings another international perspective to the store: she is here through August on a six-month internship through the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID connects young potential entrepreneurs from other countries with an experience in the United States, which will help them learn how businesses are run here.
If there is a "target market" for the Shirt Factory, it is everyone from six months old to 99 years old. The price range is from $1.99 to $34.99, and stock includes shirts and sweatshirts, hoodies, crew necks, and tank tops for men, women and children.
There are shorts for men and women, along with casual slip-on beach shoes, sunglasses, hats, toys, jewelry, souvenirs, and some specialty picture frames.
The specialty of the store is the printed T-shirts. Right now there are 450 imprints that customers can choose from, and they will have 500 when fully stocked. Finished to order, it only takes about 10 seconds to print a T-shirt. Also, since Harush was trained as a graphic artist, he can do custom work. If people are interested in having their own or someone else's face on their shirt, Harush can put photos on the garments.
When asked about their impressions of this area, Savela and Harush agreed that people have been very nice to them. Harush added that in general, people in the United States are "very kind, and willing to help out compared to other countries. People are very friendly - and that includes people here in Lanesboro."
Harush said his biggest reward so far from his Lanesboro experience has been that the store is up and ready to go - after a lot of work - and that it looks great. His biggest challenge so far is being away from his wife for five days every week. Currently, "fun" here amounts to relaxing with a beer at the end of the day.
Harush expects to be here five days of each week, with the other staff running the place on his days off. He plans to hire one more local full-time person.
The store will be seasonal, opening each year on April 1 and closing on Oct. 31. During the season, it will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Located at 119 Parkway Ave. N., the Shirt Factory's phone number is (507) 467-3052.
© 2013 Republican-Leader
Preston, Minnesota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from STPNS