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Malmquist still in the people business with new owners

Lori and Frank Kania took over Malmquist Home Furnishings in October and said they are enjoying their time in Red Wing area. The couple moved to Frontenac with their family in 2010, looking for a small town lifestyle. Now they're helping customers all over Goodhue County realize their home decor needs. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia

Small town living was what Frank and Lori Kania were looking for when they moved to Frontenac almost a decade ago.

Now, they get to serve the community they were so eager to join, taking over Malmquist Home Furnishings last October.

Frank, an information technology specialist, and Lori, who ran their other businesses and is a chemist by trade, purchased the business from Dave Buysse, who owned Malmquist for 38 years.

This gives them a chance to invest fully in small town living. They said it helped that they knew a bit about the home furnishing business. Between the two of them they've done everything, except for kicking in carpet, according to Frank.

Taking over business that's been in the Red Wing community for 103 years could seem like a difficult venture for a pair not from area. Tack on the seemingly endless varieties of flooring options, it wouldn't be surprising to feel overwhelmed.

However, as the Malmquist employees and new owners like to say: "We've got you covered."

"Well, it's not always easy," Frank said. "We've been challenged with a couple of things. One of the challenges in a small town is being relevant. Relevancy is the hardest thing. We want to keep the small store, small town highly personal experience because it's what we really liked about what Dave did."

What helps, according to Lori, is a level of intuitiveness from the employees. What also helps is the records of flooring purchases going back to the 1960s and the customer base is on its third and fourth generation now, according to Frank.

"What's interesting is because we have this wealth of information about what people have done throughout history, we can offer a level of personalization and attentiveness our competition just doesn't have," Frank said.

Carpeting that best suits a family with dirty pets, vacuum repair, custom designed drapes and window coverings are just a few of the many offerings.

When someone walks into Malmquist they'll quickly see how many options there truly are in the flooring business. Having a local place like Malmquist in the community can help people that are looking to redesign or replace aspects of a room. As the Kanias say, people still want that sensory opportunity in the purchasing process, something that the internet can't replace.

"The ability to touch and feel and smell it and rub their hands over it and walk on it takes precedence," Frank said. "And people want to do that."

"There's a lot of different things you need to know," Lori said about the decision making process. "That's why if someone comes in, they talk to a sales associate, then we figure out what your best option is. And what you should be looking for."

Thus far, the couple says the best part of the job—aside from being a small, more personal community—is the chance to work with people on a day-to-day basis.

The Kania children will be a mainstay at the store as well in the future. Frank Kania IV, 12, and Izley Kania, 10, are students at Lake City and can't wait to get started working at the business.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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