The Wallet

Written by: Ruth Bradt

It was born in upstate New York, lived half its life there, the other half in Florida and died in Minot, North Dakota!!
What did you ask? My wallet.

I had been aware of its severe state of decline for some time and tried to replace it for at least 4 months prior to its ultimate demise but to no avail. I tried the big box stores, some smaller ones, even a thrift store or two but nothing was like my old tried and true. Eventually I went to the Internet and while I did find some there, they were way more money than I ever expected to spend on such an item. So, it turns out, I arrived in North Dakota for a visit with my son and his family and my wallet fell apart!!

“Uh Oh” I said to him, “I really have to get a new wallet now, do you know someplace?” He drove me to Hensen’s Fur and Leather at 525 20th Avenue SE.

All I can say is “Wow, what a store!!”
The word Eclectic is defined in the dictionary as ideas, style or taste derived from a broad range of sources, and Hensen’s Fur and Leather is most certainly eclectic!

I was in a store like no other I had ever been to.

First the smells as you enter, the smell of leather, warm earthy, then the sights. Present day Native Art adorns the entire back wall letting you know you are not in Kansas anymore!! You are in the West. High up on the wall there were skulls and stuffed pheasants. On the floor is a full-sized buffalo!! When I was there, he was standing with his head in the corner, almost out of sight. A time out? Whatever had he done???

There are Hides of all kinds, leather and fur products as the name implies. A section of gloves that must be 15 ft. long, on both sides!! A very large section devoted to the materials that Native crafters might use to create the regalia used in their Pow Wows. I found those items fascinating, the West at its most historic. My very favorite section of all was near the back of the store, a section of animal hides, most with the faces, tails and paws intact! Have you ever been up close and personal with a wolf? Well, I have now that I have been to Hensen’s. There are Cougar, Black Bear, Red Fox, Beaver and Otter to name a few. They are beautiful, they are impressive.

I was in the store for such a long time that I eventually met Dianne Hensen, who with her husband Rich own and operates the store. Such lovely friendly people! They opened their store in 1971 and have been in business 53 years. In talking with Dianne about the animal hides she says that they encourage children to come in and I would say to any young mother, especially if you are not from this area, it is a lovely experience for children.

There is an array of leather wear for motorcycles enthusiasts, fancy fur coats and hats for that elegant lady in your life, fur earmuffs, moccasins, slippers, belts, leather jackets for men and women, unique handbags, even a large section of colorful Pendelton wear and oh, yes, wallets.

I found exactly what I was looking for, it was high quality, and it was very reasonably priced! Check this place out, it is a wonderful experience, part museum part cultural education, and don’t forget, Christmas is just around the corner.

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