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‘This is their own’

New boutique in Ellendale provides shopping option

 

ELLENDALE — It has been an interesting year to open a boutique, to say the least.

Gwen Reiss opened Two Doves Boutique on March 13 — Friday the 13th during a full moon, she said — for a soft opening. She was set to completely open the boutique — which sells clothing, decor, gifts and other items — to customers the following weekend, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit Minnesota, shutting down businesses deemed non-essential. Reiss said she looked at the bright side at that time, though, and put finishing touches on the building she and her husband, Ed, who owns Reiss Plumbing & Heating in Ellendale, purchased in July 2019.

The building they bought at 202 Fifth Ave. W. in Ellendale was originally built in 1900 as Security State Bank — the first business in Ellendale, according to Reiss. In the years since the bank moved Ato a different location, the original building has been home to a print office, a newspaper and at one point a jail was housed in the basement.

While putting her own touch on the space with help from her husband — new flooring, knocking a wall down and painting, among other tasks — Reiss has worked to keep much of the building’s originality. The old bank vault still stands, and now houses some of the jewelry and other items the boutique sells. Original vault shelving cut into smaller portions is still inside the vault, and storage cabinets from the vault can be found elsewhere in the store. A meter outside the vault — which Reiss believes was used to gas bank robbers breaking into the vault — is still on display, as is a clock inside the vault as well as inspection forms adorning the doorway. Reiss made flooring out of pennies and epoxy in front of the vault.

In her back storage room, original brick from the outside of the building adorns the walls, and original details can be seen throughout the shop. Reiss, who previously owned Turtle Dove Teahouse in Albert Lea, has also repurposed other materials during the remodel of her business — such as bricks from her husband’s elementary school that now line the windows, a desk her husband made for her out of an old cattle feeder, and decor used from old fencing materials. The boutique is named after the two doves Reiss’ husband gifted her with 30 years ago, which now adorn the business’s sign out front.

While the coronavirus pandemic definitely affected her business opening, Reiss said the boutique is doing well now.

“The community and surrounding areas have been very supportive, pleasantly so,” she said. “They seem very happy that we’re here.”

Reiss said it’s important for her to give the Ellendale community and surrounding areas another shopping option. She and her husband live about four blocks away from the boutique, and she likes that she can give people a gift-buying option on the way back from the grocery store, or a shopping destination on their way to or from having coffee or lunch.

“This is their own,” she said.

Reiss said she does her best to stock American-made items in her boutique, and also makes a point of selling items that give back. She sells products from Scout Curated Wears — which gives 10% of its net profits to causes that support women in need — and sells jewelry from 4Ocean, which states that a pound of trash is cleaned up from the ocean for every bracelet or other jewelry piece sold, among other items from companies that give back. Two Doves reusable bags are for sale for $5 in the boutique, and lead to 5% off all future purchases.

Two Doves Boutique opened back up about four weeks ago, Reiss said. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. People are welcome to call to set up an appointment if they’d like to shop outside of those hours.

 

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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