For the owner of a store that's precisely a year old today, Greta Norlander has surprisingly little to complain about.
"My father warned me about it before I opened, but sometimes a few people still come in asking if is a stationary store," Norlander told Patch on Tuesday.
Norlander does carry a few greeting cards, but her shop next to at 50th and Penn Avenue South is more like nearby art galleries-slash-giftshops and than any variation on a theme of Paper Source. Despite the competetive company Norlander keeps along 50th Street, she seems to have been able to stand apart from the crowd with a diverse array of jewelry, art, and gifts.
Nearly 90 percent of that stock is one-of-a-kind, Norlander said, handcrafted by artists from Minneapolis and all over the country.
"I love it when people come into my shop and tell me 'I've never seen this stuff before,'" she said.
All week, Norlander has been celebrating Paper Hat's successful first year with special sales (the official anniversary was Thursday). So how has she managed a strong first year, while the local and national economies limp along?
Norlander attributes her relative success to branching out in how she gets new customers. Every Thursday night, Paper Hat hosts crafting parties for fans. Less frequently, she holds for a mini-gallery that takes up one corner of the shop. Now and then, she even hosts fancy (but calm) bachelorette parties.
Still, it hasn't been without its pitfalls. Norlander said she took some time to adjust her buying tastes to what her customers wanted.
"When you start out, you buy a lot of stuff that you like," she said.