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Angie Wieck, Published April 20 2014

Embracing Outcasts: Woman pursues a dream with Amenia shop

Amenia, N.D. -- Angela Kolden never intended to return to live in her hometown. She certainly did not expect to open a business there, but she is happy her life has come full circle in the town 8 miles north of Casselton.

“I have accepted this is probably where I’ll stay just because everything is turning out so nicely, in spite of me fighting it,” Kolden said.

Last year she opened Outcasts, an occasional shop she describes as specializing in “spunky junk, repurposed picks and custom creations for your home and heart.”

She held two shows her first year and sold nearly all of her inventory.

The first of four 2014 shows is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 3-4.


The Outcasts name holds a lot of meaning for Kolden.

It begins with her current home and studio. When she moved back to Amenia in 2010, her father, Fran Steffes, and grandmother, Clara Weerts, had both recently passed away.

She moved into her grandmother’s home and got to work cleaning out her father’s, the former Amenia Co-op building.

Life went on. She worked for a while as a jailer and a reporter for the Cass County Recorder, but she was not happy.

Her thoughts returned to a plan she had with her sister, Kim Kranz, to open a shabby chic store in western North Dakota. The two had accumulated a substantial inventory at auction sales over the years.

Kolden thought the former co-op was the perfect place to have a work studio and showroom.

“It was coincidental that neither my grandma nor my dad had much monetarily speaking, but both of them are how I’m sustaining myself right now because I’m living in my grandma’s house and I have this building thanks to my dad,” Kolden said.

The Outcasts name also makes her think of her boyfriend, Joe Stahl, a former member of a Hutterite colony near Wessington Springs, S.D.

Thanks to his experience at the colony, his help has been essential to her business. Kolden says he can pretty much repair or build anything she needs.

Finally, Outcasts describes the very items Kolden sells. Her motto is, “Reclaiming things rejected.”

She scours auctions, thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets and the occasional city cleanup week to find material.

What Kolden loves about her work is reimagining a use for something.

“It’s just forcing yourself to think outside of the box,” she said. “Sometimes you just turn something upside down and it has a whole different vibe.”

Examples include shelves she has made out of old dresser drawers and a wall hanging made from repurposed wood and old Sardine cans.

It’s a gypsy life

It seems fitting Kolden has returned home to reinvent herself. She said it was her parents and her childhood that made Outcasts possible.

She described her mom, Anne Hill, as someone practical who has always been satisfied with simpler things. On the other hand, she said her dad was a dreamer who always had ideas for something more.

“The combination of them has made me, I think, be able to do this,” Kolden said. “I’m able to do without a lot of luxury items in order to pursue something creatively.”

She is grateful for her parents, who “allowed me to dream by infusing me with their messy genius and gypsy souls.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501