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Johnson and Kuhl Keep Riverview Place Alive

Article featured in the June 26, 2012 Fergus Falls Daily Journal.
Written by Seth Johnson


Life doesn’t always go as planned, and last year, Andrew Johnson decided to put his life on a new path after his mother, Marlys Johnson, was diagnosed with cancer and died a few months later, June 21, 2011.

Marlys opened Riverview Place: Flowers and Gifts in Pelican Rapids with a partner in 1991 and took sole ownership of the business in 2006.

Andrew and his girlfriend, Gretchen Kuhl, took over management of Riverview Place on the week of Mother’s Day when Marlys was diagnosed with cancer in April 2011.

"She never left the hospital or healthcare, so we were kind of all in," Andrew said. "A couple past employees came scurrying back to help after they found out she passed away."

When Marlys died, Andrew was faced with the tough decision of what to do with Riverview Place. He had been spending the winters in Colorado, where Kuhl lived, and the summers in Pelican Rapids coaching baseball and working at a turkey farm.

"You have to take care of yourself first," Andrew said. "You can’t just do it because a family member did, but I think it’s important to the town to continue to provide these services."

Andrew and Kuhl decided to dive into the business as co–managers.

"It was a shocking thing," he said. "It wasn’t in our plans. I didn’t even know how to pay sales tax. It was business 101 by fire."

Kuhl had never experienced small–town life until she moved to Pelican Rapids with Andrew.

"Things just fell into place in unexpected ways," she said.

After managing Riverview Place for more than a year, Andrew and Kuhl have embraced the new life, and they hope to expand the business before next summer, they said.

Andrew said he hopes to add an ice cream shop and expand the outdoor deck to overlook the river so seating can be added.

"I think the town really needs this," he said.

Kuhl said one of her favorite parts of working at Riverview Place is finding things that have been made locally.

"One of the fun things is finding local artists, artisans and crafters," Kuhl said. "We like to have local stories. We put tags on things to let customers know where they came from."

One of the reasons Andrew decided to commit to continuing the business was the building itself, he said.

"I think this building is about the neatest building in town because of its age and location." Andrew said. "It was built in 1898. It’s pretty fun to be working in a historic building."

Andrew said the feedback he has received since he and Kuhl took over management has been great.

"I really like it when people say they are glad we’re still here," he said. "It makes it worth while to know it’s appreciated."