Shopkeeper chases jewelry dream

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Shopkeeper chases jewelry dream

Jane Wolf guides her customers in choosing jewelry at the Silver Feather. © 2018 Xin Tao

Jane Wolf guides her customers in choosing jewelry at the Silver Feather. © 2018 Xin Tao

Jane Wolf guides her customers in choosing jewelry at the Silver Feather. © 2018 Xin Tao

Jane Wolf guides her customers in choosing jewelry at the Silver Feather. © 2018 Xin Tao

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Shopkeeper chases jewelry dream

By Xin Tao

 Silver Feather is Jane Wolf’s dream come true.

“I am not Indian myself, but I really liked Indian jewelry. I have been running this store for about 34 years,” Wolf said.

According to Wolf, the store has been designed to showcase American Indian culture.

Wolf says she developed a strong interest in American Indian culture from a young age. She was particularly fond of American Indian style jewelry. Before starting the store, Wolf was a primary school teacher.

“I decided to start a shop that sold the real Indian jewelry, and I started with just jewelry,” Wolf said.

To gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating culture, Wolf seeks information, buys books and explores American Indian culture. Wolf traveled around the United States and visited Native Americans across the country. During her travels, she collected all the American Indian handmade jewelry she considered valuable.

Wolf started a shop in Bloomer, which is a small city near Eau Claire, to sell her collection of American Indian jewelry. At this point, Wolf had primarily realized her dream. However, Bloomer is small and running a business is not easy. Plus, the store’s design did not fit what she had in mind.

A few years later, Wolf decided to move her store to the downtown area of Eau Claire, which has more foot traffic. Wolf bought the whole building so that she could make it look like her dream jewelry store. Located in downtown Eau Claire, Silver Feather has more customers.

Gradually, Wolf began to collect American Indian artifacts other than jewelry, including musical instruments, containers, furnishings, and many other products containing American Indian cultural elements.

However, the path to making dreams come true is not always smooth. While collecting jewelry and other artifacts, Wolf also encountered a lot of forgeries and imitations produced in factories. Even with a good knowledge of American Indian culture, she sometimes has difficulty distinguishing the real from the fake.

Since opening her store, Wolf has worked to eliminate these factory products and select the best American Indian handicrafts. She spent nearly half her life looking for trusted craftsmen. She gradually established reliable ties with the makers of these handicrafts and continued to deliver American Indian handicrafts to her Eau Claire customers.

Dick Mindykowski, a Native American craftsman, recently gave Wolf his latest work. Mindykowski says that he often sells his latest work to Wolf because she is trustworthy. Mindykowski says that he and Wolf are good friends now, and he is willing to show rare and precious materials to Wolf.

Today, Wolf says her jewelry store, Silver Feather, is the fulfillment of her youthful dreams.

Proving her loyalty to her dream, Wolf shared that she only sells handicrafts of high quality, and each one is a unique work of art.

Wolf says that no matter what customers are looking for, she can find the handicrafts suitable for them here. Perhaps because of her former teaching career, Wolf remembers the origins and stories of each product and shares them with customers one by one.

“I like people to come to me, and I like them to feel and handle the stuff to try it on,” Wolf said.

One recent customer, Landis Ann Wubbels Wagner complimented Wolf on her selection telling Wolf, “I love your store and have found some great pieces for my family.”

Wolf is happy to help customers like Wubbels Wagner and will explain or answer customer questions about Indian culture to help them choose the products they want. She said she is willing to take the time needed to select the most suitable handicraft for customers.