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Frozen In Time: Rapids Upholstery [VIDEO]

SAUK RAPIDS — Rapids Upholstery in Sauk Rapids is the oldest upholstery shop in central Minnesota. The business first opened in 1918 by a man named Jack Parfitt.

Over the years they’ve repaired everything from helicopter seats to antique furniture.

“It was kind of odd walking into the shop here and seeing a helicopter sitting in my garage…that was the last thing I thought I’d see sitting here,” says current owner Al Berndt.

Berndt bought the business in 1995. He took an interest in upholstery in 1988 when he started an apprenticeship under former owners Jim Herndon and Delorise Herndon.

He’d always wanted to own a business and thought the upholstery shop would be the perfect opportunity. Berndt says the job is pretty dynamic and unpredictable at times, “it’s not just furniture, we do everything.”

Rapids Upholstery repairs almost anything that has fabric including automotive repairs and antique furniture.

Berndt says he repaired a rocking chair for a woman a few years ago. The chair belonged to her grandmother. When he finished restoring the piece he called the woman to let her know the chair was done. Berndt says the woman broke down in tears because the rocking chair looked just like it did when her grandmother used to sit on it.

When an item comes in for repair it typically gets torn down to its basic structure. “We go through and check the frames out, make sure it’s solid. And then build it all back up again, so it will last another 40 years,” says Berndt.

It’s a form of recycling that’s been around for many generations.

Ashli Gerdes, WJON News

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