A cursory glance inside Linden Hills’ on Thursday afternoon would have suggested a bustling children’s shop - a thriving one. Customers formed a line in front of the register, cradling armfuls of games and toys, piling them on the counter as their turn arrived, while co-owner Joyce Olson-Kapell rang up items with one hand and fielded phone calls with the other. Around them, shoppers browsed, mothers pushed babies in strollers—it was a veritable Linden Hills postcard.
But a closer look revealed an undercurrent of melancholy. The shoppers were quiet and subdued; in Olson-Kapell’s eyes, something not unlike sadness. She answered the phone while calculating the 25% discount on a customer’s mound of toys; the voice on the other line was expressing condolences over the store’s closing.
Both Wonderment locations—in Linden Hills and on Grand Avenue in St. Paul - will be closed by the end of the month, due to financial difficulties.
Though the decision to close was something Olson-Kapell referred to as terrible, “It became financially impossible,” she said.
While the Linden Hills location has enjoyed a dedicated customer base since it opened in 2005, the Grand Avenue location has been less successful. Opening in 2008, “three months before the bottom fell out of the economy,” Olson-Kapell explained that the Grand Avenue store paled in comparison to what they have experienced here.
“Sales have always been stronger here," she said. "We’re just a good fit for this neighborhood. It’s a place where people come with their kids."
An email to their customers Tuesday evening explained the two stores would be closing. On Wednesday, Wonderment saw the biggest sales day in its history.
“It was a happy and sad day,” Olson-Kappel said. “All of our best customers came out. Some of them were crying, some kids were crying.”
Sadness was also expressed at neighboring businesses in the tightknit Linden Hills community.
“I’m sorry to see them go. They have a lot of really unique items. They’ll be missed,” ’ Collette Morgan said.
“I think it’s very sad because the owners were very active in the Linden Hills Business Association and they just had a unique product line. They gave a lot to the community - they gave back a lot,”’s Beth Patrin said.
Despite the closing of the shops, Olson-Kappel is optimistic and excited about the future. Currently the craft class teacher at Wonderment, she plans to devote herself to teaching once her work at the shop is finished. She will expand her offerings in a new location, operating out of the Thorpe Building in Northeast Minneapolis. She also has plans to develop a line of craft kits.
Wonderment is currently offering 25% off all items in the store. The prices will continue to drop throughout the month. Fixtures are also for sale, including - if you can figure out a way to transport it - the giant tree crafted by Olson-Kapell in the back of the shop.
The Minneapolis Wonderment will remain open through the end of the month. Wonderment in St. Paul will close on Feb. 12 and any remaining mechandise will be transferred to the Linden Hills location.