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“It sounds really cheesy, but Decorah really is a very special place. I have always felt truly supported by so many in the Decorah and Luther community, but now in the midst of this seemingly neverending pandemic, I feel it even more,” she says, “I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a bit rough. So many people have made a point of supporting Agora, purchasing, telling me how much they like my store and how thankful they are that I am still open. I couldn’t do it without them and I am thankful to them for supporting me, which allows me to continue doing what I love!” Gail took some (valuable, self-employed) time to share with us about what she’s learned and loved over the past 30 years of running a business in Decorah. Read on for more!

jobs that I truly hated, but none that I really loved either. Even when I started selling my work at art shows, first selling my handwovens, then polymer clay jewelry and painted clothing, I didn’t really feel like it was quite the right fit. But I traveled to art shows all around the Midwest, and would set up my booth, and there would always be all these other artists from the Decorah area at the show selling their work. I loved their work and thought it was such a shame that most of their art wasn’t available in downtown Decorah. That was really how I started. My husband and his business partner had already opened one business in Decorah (Decorah Bicycles) so I knew that I had someone to help me with some of the Gail Bolson-Magnuson with her husband, book keeping, taxes, advertising, and other Karl. / Photo by Charlie Langton Name: Gail Bolson-Magnuson accounting issues that I knew nothing about. Business: Agora Arts I opened my first retail space in May of Years in Business: 29 (our 30 year anniversary is May 2, 2022) 1992, representing 33 local and regional artists. My space had a Business address: 104 E Water St, Decorah, Iowa studio so I could also do my own work, but it soon became obvious Website: www.agoraarts.com that I wasn’t going to have time to do that and run the sales part of the gallery at the same time. It’s been almost 30 years since I 1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide opened and some of those same artists are still represented at to jump in and become your own boss? Agora, along with, currently, about 200 more from around the I started working when I was 14 and have had so many jobs! I country! We have brought in a few items from other countries now think I counted almost 20 jobs before I was 30. I was a waitress, as well. a bookstore clerk, a disk jockey, an interior painter, sold lingerie, It’s important in business to be able to pivot (buzzword of the year worked in a grocery store, a travel agency... I learned something I think!) and that’s what I’ve been doing a lot lately. I’ve also started from every job whether I liked the job or not. I didn’t have many continued on next page

iloveinspired.com \ Fall 2021

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Profile for Inspire(d) Media

Inspire(d) Fall 2021  

Change is Good! Inspire(d)’s 14th Anniversary Issue! • Decorah Prairie • Community Builders: Craig & Sara Neuzil • Melissa Wray • Josh Herte...

Inspire(d) Fall 2021  

Change is Good! Inspire(d)’s 14th Anniversary Issue! • Decorah Prairie • Community Builders: Craig & Sara Neuzil • Melissa Wray • Josh Herte...

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