After looking for work and finding nothing for a year, Mary Wohl saw an opportunity to create her own job.
In July, she did just that by opening a store on Laurel Street in downtown Brainerd.
“I started this because I was out of work,” Wohl said. “I was a social worker for 22 years.”
She searched in the area, the Twin Cities and St. Cloud but said the results never bore fruit.
“No doors opened,” she said.
The 47-year-old mother of two teenagers said prayer helped her find her way.
“The door opened here,” she said as she surveyed her new store where bright colored objects enjoy natural light from the large plate-glass windows.
Wohl said she looked at locations across Brainerd and Baxter, including Franklin Arts Center. But then the former Mattie and Me store on Laurel Street was closing, opening up a site and one that Wohl said matched her price range.
“I truly believe God’s hand is in it,” she said. “This is where he wants me to be.”
A self-taught photographer who began taking photos as a hobby. The hobby grew into a business venture, spurred by friends who saw Wohl’s work and sought her out for photos. Now her colorful nature photos line one wall using a number of mediums from canvas to post board. Prices vary from about $65 to $120 for the prints. Wohl takes graduation and family photos as well.
“I do mostly home decor photography,” Wohl said.
The photography is just part of the home decor Wohl features in her shop. The store includes jewelry, candles, original art, photo cards, herbal soap and lotion from All Things Herbal and specialty coffee. Prices include gift items for $6 and $11 from home decor to picture frames.
Wohl worked in retail while she went to college. Her parents owned Harold’s Club in Baxter.
“I grew up in a business atmosphere,” Wohl said. “My dad taught me a lot. He was a great teacher for me in business so I always had that little niche in the back of my head — someday — here it is. Here and now.”
Wohl used the Internet to search out product lines she wanted to include from wholesalers and online handmade items, such as the herbals soaps. She wanted to create a peaceful, welcoming store with space that isn’t stuffed with inventory. There is room to expand for a photo studio and Wohl is considering adding a clothing line for plus-size women and perhaps massage therapy to add to the relaxing atmosphere she wants to create.
Recently she said a customer came in and said she could spend the entire day just enjoying the store. That’s what Wohl hopes to hear more often.
She’s depended mainly on social media to get the word out about her store thus far. A grand opening is planned from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23-25. Her sister, Deb Thomalla, author of “The Bumblebee Cousins” will be on hand to sign books.
“There are a lot of really unique shops downtown,” Wohl said. “People have been encouraging and willing to work together and I’d like to see more of that.”