When Emil Schatzlein left Kilzschein in the Bavarian Wine country, he came to Minneapolis with several others from his hometown. He was a leather maker and he wanted to set up a business in a central location. At the time, Minneapolis was a thriving milling and lumber center set on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. It was a small commercial area surrounded by farms and he knew that farmers needed harnesses. So he set up shop on Lake Street near Lyndale Avenue at the eastern edge of the city. Not too long before, Lake Street was the main Indian path from Lake Calhoun to Fort Snelling.
His decision turned out to be a good one. Many farmers were German and liked to deal with him because he made a good product. They also liked the location because it was easy to find. As the years passed, the city expanded. Schatzlein's no longer was at the edge of the city, but very much in the center. The products he sold changed with the expansion. Horses no longer were used nearly exclusively for labor, people began to ride them for enjoyment. Sales of harnesses gave way to saddles and leather boots. The trend has continued into the third generation. Janet Schatzlein is the granddaughter of Emil. Their storefront sells English and Western saddles and clothing. People who have never been near a horse buy western clothing, and cowboy boots are as common as loafers. But saddles are still a large part of their inventory. For good reason. Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located, has one of the largest per capita number of horse owners in the entire country.
Even so, 97 years is a long time to be in business. The fact that it is still around speaks to the dedication of the family to keep the name and company going. Schatzlein's is still famous for its traditionally friendly customer service. Grandchildren of the customers who bought harnesses are now buying their clothing and saddles there. But customer service is only one aspect. Another is the location. Although West Lyndale Avenue is no longer the outskirts of the city, the shop is convenient to major arteries. 35W and I94 are only blocks away, and Lyndale Avenue is still an important route between the northern and southern suburbs.
Schatzlein's was around when I was a young boy in the middle ‘40s and our family passed it often as we traveled on Lake Street. As far as I know, it's the only one left from that era. Even though I've only ridden a horse three times in my life, I hope it will still be around for my grandchildren.
John Anderson has been an entrepeneur for most of his life, working as a substitute teacher, stamp dealer, antiques and collectibles dealer, and most recently, author. His novel, The Cellini Masterpiece, is a mystery-suspense novel set on the island of Malta. If you would like to read a chapter of the book, or have a question, please log in at http://www.cmasterpiece.com