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Ely couple sews message for BWCAW

Wintergreen owners showcased at White House’s ‘Made in America’ showcase

Marcus White
Posted 7/25/18

ELY - Ely shop owners Sue and Paul Schurke were shocked last week by a call from the White House.

“I ignored it for a whole day,” Sue said. “Paul said it was the real deal and we responded …

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Ely couple sews message for BWCAW

Wintergreen owners showcased at White House’s ‘Made in America’ showcase

Posted

ELY - Ely shop owners Sue and Paul Schurke were shocked last week by a call from the White House.

“I ignored it for a whole day,” Sue said. “Paul said it was the real deal and we responded in the last hour of the 24-hour window. Had it just been me, I may not have paid any attention to it.”

The couple, owners of Wintergreen Northern Wear in Ely, were selected by the Trump administration to present their wares at a “Made in America” showcase at the White House this past Monday.

“I looked at it as an honor,” Sue said. “People asked why we could go if we weren’t Trump supporters. I didn’t want it to be political; I thought it was really cool just to go.”

The opportunity to meet with federal officials did, however, give Schurke an idea to promote her beloved Boundary Water Canoe Area, and the economic boost it, and other public lands, give homegrown outdoor businesses like Wintergreen.

The couple made a sign for their booth that read “Public Lands Build Business.”

“We thought it would be a respectable way to get our message across,” Sue said. “It was looked over many times (by White House officials). As Americans we have a duty to express our opinions.”

And the message ended up going beyond the White House presentation.

Sue appeared on Fox News later in the day and was asked what the President could do to help her business.

“I asked that the president look at protecting our public lands and the Boundary Waters where we live,” she said.

Aside from sewing a message to help garner support for the BWCA, Sue said the entire trip was an experience in itself, one she should would gladly repeat if asked to return again.

“It was an honor to visit and see other family businesses that were home grown,” she said. “Half a dozen had been around for over a hundred years. There was a bond amongst all of us.”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross even requested one of the Schurke’s small American flags for himself – they are sewn into nearly every product made at Wintergreen.

President Trump did not visit any of the booths while the owners were present but chose to address the group as a whole during a presentation.

The time in Washington also allowed the Schurkes to reflect on the history of the country.

“I spent as much time as I could just walking around and looking at the portraits,” Sue said. “There is so much history there. To get into these peoples ‘(those who work in the White House) brains one day would be amazing.”

At the end of the day, though, Sue said her trip was more than just about her, it was about her hometown back in Minnesota.

“In Ely, it’s an issue to talk about protecting the Boundary Waters,” she said. “It’s hard to really voice your opinion sometimes if you choose to be neutral. I have always been determined to keep things here in Ely to promote jobs. I wouldn’t be here without the Boundary Waters.”

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