Jonielle Soderstrom was greeted warmly by friends and former employees at a recent retirement party held in her honor at Creative Impressions, with friends and former workers bringing flowers, hugs and well wishes. Soderstrom recently retired after owning and running the store for 29 years.
Soderstrom was born and raised in Langdon, N.D. Following college, where she majored in arts and home economics, and marriage to her husband Chuck, they moved to Minot where she taught home economics and art in Berthold. They soon moved to Devils Lake in the early 1980s, and she took a job Great Plains Lumberyard designing kitchens. She worked there for about three years before Soderstrom said she decided she wanted to do something different and own her own business. She purchased Creative Impressions, which fit her "love of sewing and designing," in a location near the LaMotte's store. She said the business was "much smaller then."
The store moved to multiple locations over the next 20-plus years, including into buildings that now house Bremer Bank, Lottas and Boots & Heels. In 2005, Soderstrom said they "grew out of what we had" and moved into Creative Impression's current location at 423 4th Ave NE. Soderstrom said the space also allowed the store to accommodate all of its product and services, which had expanded over the years. She said they often added additional machinery as they moved into new locations, including a silk screening machine and an embroidery machine. Eventually she said they added a four-head embroidery machine.
When asked what she thought about the changes in downtown Devils Lake in the last 29 years, Soderstrom said "things really changed when Walmart came in. I was there when it (downtown) was a real small town with Mom and Pop stores." She did note that things seem to be changing for the better in recent years in downtown Devils Lake, with the "nice addition" of some new locally owned stores.
One of the things Soderstrom said she enjoyed most about owning and working in Creative Impressions was the "one on one" interaction with customers on a daily basis. She also had kind words to say about her employees.
"I had lots of good employees there," she said. "There were many wonderful people."
She noted two long-term employees who worked for her for more than 20 years and helped her considerably - Bev Schuler, who did silk screening, and Dennis Strong, who worked in the embroidery department and "fixed any machine I had."
Soderstrom said she is looking forward to spending time with Chuck, who retired four years ago. She said their retirement plans include some short trips - including a trip to watch the Bison championship football game in Frisco, Texas. She said she also just wants to enjoy time at home. However, she added, "I'm not totally out of the business yet," as she has a hobby room in her home and will continue providing Creative Impressions with embroidery services.
Page 2 of 2 - Creative Impressions was purchased from Soderstrom by Cheri Martinson, who had worked at the store for several years.