Identical twin sisters Jenni George and Jacqui Schmittbauer, plus their niece, Johnelle Wiener, all have a passion for decorating their own homes, giving new life to old furniture and making signs. Opening up a boutique in Osakis with these passions in mind was easy for them to do.
Their store, J Decor 54, opened in mid-June and sells refurbished furniture, home decor and they recently added a clothing line.
The name "J Decor 54" comes from the fact that each of their names start with J and the twins’ parents got married in 1954.
The three buy the furniture they refurbish from all sorts of places. They will sometimes buy items wholesale from other vendors, including places in Minneapolis, but the majority of their items come from auctions, estate sales, garage sales, the farms they grew up on and even the side of the road.
Refinishing is what they mainly do with furniture, but George said they will sometimes do reupholstering.
“We’d like to have a place for the community to come and not have to travel so far for things for the home and gifts,” Wiener said.
Business has been good so far, George said. The store is open every day during the summer months to bring in business from tourists, but the three are thinking about lessening their hours during the winter — perhaps only staying open on weekends or Thursday through Sunday.
The recent mall closings in Alexandria was a concern for the three women. Their children go to school in Osakis, so 220 Central Ave. seemed like a good spot to open a shop.
“We’re actually really hoping that there’s other people opening up shops too, filling this street again, instead of having all these buildings closed in a small town,” George said.
Plans for the business include expanding the clothing line — getting more casual and dressy merchandise for adults and teenagers. They are still discussing expanding the amount of clothing they have for kids.
“I feel like we all have different tastes,” George said. “Really, we just kind of have a hodgepodge of everything.”
Wiener said however, that doesn’t mean they don’t agree on what looks good and what they should or should not sell. Their tastes share just enough of a similarity.
The three do not plan on hiring any part time help. However, the twins’ children are a little older, so they can help with the family business, George said. “We’re going to try to just make it us for a while and see how it goes,” she said.