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Josh Wilken Simon has been holding down his shop on 1st street for about a year and a half. His shop features glass work primarily made in Minnesota and all other pieces are made in the US. His store also features local painters and photographers as well as glass blowers. Josh promises nothing in his shop is made overseas. I sat down with Josh and talked about his life, his shop and living in Duluth as a small business owner.
MJ: What’s been on your ipod/ in your CD player lately?
JWS: Bliss and Sitter. (Local hip-hop artists) Their live shows are awesome. A lot of guitar, bass, loops and lasers. They remind me of Pink Floyd with a hip-hop flavor.
MJ: What drew you to Duluth?
JWS: My family. My grandpa moved here from New York City when he was four. He eventually started a bookstore called Frederick’s. It was on 5th Ave. West and Superior Street. The Twin Cities were a little too crowded for me. It’s funny that I own a store 5 blocks from my grandpa’s old store.
MJ: Aside from the shop, what else do you do?
JWS: I’m very interested in politics. I was a volunteer for Al Franken and Barack Obama in 2008. I also got to participate in the Franken/Coleman recount, which was quite interesting. Recently i’ve been volunteering for Jeff Anderson’s campaign for Congress as a field program volunteer.
MJ: Where was the last place you travelled to?
JWS: Europe last fall. My old roommate lives in Brussels Belgium. We went to Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. When we were in Germany we hiked a few miles to this beautiful, remote castle. It was nice to escape the urbanity and witness some natural beauty.
MJ: What’s your favorite thing about Duluth?
JWS: Driving down the hill on my way to the shop and seeing the lake. And then remembering I live next to the biggest lake in the world.
MJ: What are the ups and downs of owning your own business?
JWS: The ups are that there’s no boss. I’m not working for a faceless corporation. I’m supporting myself and several other employees. Starting with nothing and now looking where i’m at, it’s nice. The cons are long hours. The brutal taxes on small businesses. There’s no real job security and potentially anytime it could come crashing down.
MJ: What are you passionate about?
JWS: Pipes and politics! I’m passionate about MN glassblowers and the art behind it. I’m proud to be able to put their work in more of a gallery setting and have it recognized as an art form. With politics, I enjoy being able to work for, elect and support politicians that share similar values as myself .