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Woman takes over gift shop in downtown Lake Mills building

LAKE MILLS — A Lake Mills woman says doors were opened to allow her to be where she’s at today, operating a gift store in downtown Lake Mills.

Sondra Nelson, who previously worked at Hy-Vee, said one day in October she was having coffee at the senior center and spoke with Ruth Willier, who asked her if she wanted to help out with Ruth Anne’s Handgoods & Uniques.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I had been praying for a door to open,’” Nelson said.

She did that for about two months, when in December Willier asked her if she wanted to take over the store. It didn’t require a lot of upfront cost or inventory, as many of the items for sale there come from other vendors.

“I just felt it was another door being opened,” Nelson said. 

Since she took over the store, she renamed it Sondra’s Gift Shop.

“It’s been going pretty good,” she said.

The store features numerous types of gift items, including crafts, table toppers, aprons, wine bottle bags, bar towels, microwave dish holders, baby sweaters and handmade cards.

Sondra’s Gift Shop offers an assortment of hot chocolate and cappuccino mixes and other herbs and spices. – Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Other items include mocha and chai tea mixes and dry herbs. There are handcrafted tables by John Neubauer,  and soon there will be quilts from renowned quilter Kyra Reps.

In addition, there will be handmade table-top games and some seasonal items, she said.

Vendors are all local, with the furthest being from Joice,  Iowa.

Every Saturday, Nelson said there are fresh baked goods by Willier for sale, and she and Willier also take orders for baked goods at any time.

Nelson said she was born and raised in Lake Mills and lived in California for 40 years. Retired from AT&T, she returned to Lake Mills in 2006.

“A lot of the friends I went to school with were here, and it was like I never left,” she said.

She lives with her granddaughter, Michelle Jones, and enjoys volunteering. She is the financial secretary at Salem Lutheran Church in Lake Mills.

Sondra’s Gift Shop is at 207 W. Main St. in Lake Mills.

People can reach Nelson at 641-909-4596.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays.

Sondra’s Gift Shop includes a variety of gifts for every taste, ranging from necklaces, towels and crafts to herbs and cappuccino mixes. – Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune


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