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Pine City Scrapbooking Company Offers Retreat For Serious Scrappers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For decades, people have found ways to share their family memories. It may seem the popularity of the latest trend, scrapbooking, has dwindled. But don't tell a scrapbooker that.

If you've driven north of the Twin Cities on I-35, you may have seen this large billboard. The Pine City Scrapbooking Company has been around for a decade, staying in business long after the hey-day. People from near, and far, travel to the town of about 3,000 for a special store and retreat.

Tucked into the tiny town of Pine City is a bustling store, busier than ever.

"I said 'I think if we build this, people will come to Pine City and shop,'" Marni Steltz said.

That was 10 years ago.

"I didn't think it was totally wild and crazy," Ron Steltz said.

Ron and Marni Steltz opened near the end of the scrapbooking hey-day, right before the recession. When so many stores closed, it survived.

"We're both just high school grads," Ron Steltz said.

And the store went on to thrive.

"From day one we were a good team," Marni Steltz said.

The 10,000 square foot building is filled with unique paper, stickers, stamps and stencils. But it's the retreat that sets The Pine City Scrapbooking Company apart.

"Back here we have our retreat center and we hold 24 ladies," Marni Steltz said.

Women can book a space to scrapbook for as little as a day, or for an extended stay.

"We usually come on Friday and leave on Sunday," Margo Bryendlson said.

Margo and her Aunt Beverly travel as two, a way to spend time with one another doing something they enjoy.

"You can work at your speed and you're not being interrupted, 'Mom, where's this,' or 'let's go do this' or, you can just do it. You're just relaxed. You don't need to get dressed. That's the best part," Beverly Nelson said.

Most women choose to stay in their jammies.

"You crawl out of bed, you come, you sit down, you start working," Bryendlson said. "You're not here to impress anybody. You don't have to do the whole make-up thing. Because nobody cares. We're all concentrating on our books, not on each other."

Scrap bookers can book a bed, a room or the entire retreat. Each gets their own work space, and they bring their supplies. It's an investment in time, creativity and expense.

"I have so much stuff that I have to go into my bedroom with it all, so these are my scrap papers," Paige Marren said.

The mom came two weekends in a row, with a big group of friends, then a smaller circle. The only time she scraps is when she's away from home.

"Scrapbooking has been called the modern-day quilting bee," Marren said. "It's kind of like when guys go hunting or fishing, it's a chance for them to bond. And it's the same with women."

Perfecting a page can take hours, sometimes days.

"I'm a slow scrap-booker so it takes me about four to eight hours to do one layout," Marren said.

Every layout lends itself to a memory, a place in time meant to be treasured.

"You're writing your life's story, you're writing your family's story," Bryendlson said.

It's what Marni envisioned for her family's field of dreams.

"We put up a store, we opened up and people came and they've been coming ever since," Marni Steltz said.

Women can run a tab for the shopping they do while they're staying at the retreat.  It's open seven days a week.  The Steltz' said during winter weekends are booked more often. In the summer, weekdays are more popular.

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