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Nantiques shop open for curiosity seekers

With people looking for opportunities to get out of the house and find something new, interesting and safe to do, a local shop with some decidedly dated inventory may prove to be a fun and worthwhile destination.

Billing itself as an "antiques and collectibles shop," Nantiques at 402 Arch Street in Cloquet has now reopened, with limited weekend hours.

"We're testing the waters," Nantiques manager Sheila Peterson said of the new hours, which are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. May 24 marked the first time Nantiques was open since the onset of the pandemic.

Casual shoppers just looking for something of interest will find much to attract their attention as the varied inventory - spread over two floors - offers far more than antiques. The "collectibles" include books and magazines, vinyl records, musical instruments, knick-knacks, artwork, furniture, typewriters and office equipment, kitchen utensils and dinnerware, games and clothing.

"There have been some wonderful people that have stopped in here and just chitchatted," Peterson said. "In a lot of cases they don't necessarily buy, they just come in and have a good time."

The "library" portion is extensive and worthy of the term. Peterson's husband, Bob, spent several weeks unboxing and organizing most of the books in a single room, adding a quiet and cozy reading nook in one corner.

Peterson recalled her favorite story about the nook: "We had one young man that walked in - and I've got a chair back there that I put a sign on saying grab a book and sit and read - he was there for a long time." The man later said he had done as heeded, Peterson said, and he said "'Yup, I grabbed a book and started to read, and I fell asleep.'"

The building itself is interesting. A Masonic Temple was built on the site in 1913 but burned in the 1918 fires. It was rebuilt in 1921. It boasts two cornerstones commemorating each of the construction efforts. Peterson said the building has also been home to a dance studio, alternative school, and manufacturing facility.

Building and shop owner Duane Johnson talked about how Nantiques came to be: "We bought the building in August of 2001. It had been vacant or marginally used for about two years. Nobody seemed to be paying much attention to it."

Putting a store in the building was the dream of Johnson's wife, Nancy, who passed away in 2009.

"On 9/11 we realized that we had to get something going in there. We started by cleaning up the upstairs area and started with consignments up there," Johnson said. "Nancy was incredibly proud of the store. It was something that she always wanted to do. She dearly loved the store," he said. It still bears her thumbprint, he said.

Peterson said the store is large and rarely crowded enough to necessitate enforcement of social distancing measures. While not a requirement for shoppers, she prefers they wear face masks, just to be safe. Nantiques will provide hand sanitizer.

In addition to the new Saturday and Sunday hours, customers can also make an appointment to come to the store by calling 218-499-8584.

With something of interest for nearly everyone, Nantiques offers a great excuse to get out of the house and reinvigorate one's curiosity.

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