Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Follow the rainbow to a charming antique store in Belview August 9, 2011

Driving north into Belview, you can't miss Rainbow Antiques, Crafts & Junque.

IF YOU’RE INTO ANTIQUING or architecture or small towns, you’ll want to visit Belview, population 375, four miles off State Highway 19 in southwestern Minnesota.

My husband, Mom and I drove to Belview on a recent Saturday morning to see my Uncle Merlin and Aunt Iylene’s “new” old home along the main drag. We also toured the town, checking out the damage from a July 1 EF-1 tornado. And, lucky us, we happened to be in this Redwood County community on the one day a week that Rainbow Antiques, Crafts & Junque is open.

And let me tell you, Don Gunelson runs one heckuva an antique store with the flair of an artist.

You’ll notice the building right away when you drive or walk Main Street. It’s built of beautiful rainbow brick which, in itself, is worth a stop. I know of at least two other rainbow brick buildings in Redwood County—one in Walnut Grove and the other on a corner in nearby downtown Redwood Falls.

Colorful rainbow bricks comprise the antique shop.

Don directs customers to his store with nicely-done folksy signage. I didn’t ask Don if he created the artwork, but he worked as a graphic designer for a construction magazine before returning to his native Belview from the metro some 10 years ago. He also works part-time at the Belview Post Office.

No matter, the friendly painted farmer in the bib overalls who beckons you inside for a “looksee” will already have you smiling before you stroll through the red doors and plant your feet upon the vintage tongue-and-groove floors in a room the color of butter.

Immediately I noticed the old-style screen door painted a vivid red. It’s a perfect fit for setting the mood of this place. I’ve been in a lot of antique shops in my day, and this one, by far, rates as one of the most inviting with plenty of light streaming in the east-facing windows, merchandise displayed in a way that isn’t cluttered and a down-home atmosphere that makes you feel comfortably at ease.

I poked around for awhile, not as long as I would have liked, though, since my mom was waiting for me back at the aunt and uncle’s house. My husband explored, too, and determined the prices to be reasonable—not too high and not too low.

When I got to the back room, I made the discovery of the day, at least in my opinion. And it wasn’t an antique, collectible or junque. I found Don Gunelson’s “Belview Area Photo Art” displayed on the rear wall. I knew from the signage that I was viewing photos, but they sure didn’t look like photos. So I asked Don to explain.

He takes images of area subjects with an inexpensive camera—the fewer pixels the better—edits the photos on his computer and then prints them on watercolor paper with an ink that is more dye than ink. The result is photo art that resembles watercolor paintings.

I gushed over his creations and told him he needs to get these into a gallery—do an exhibit of his “Belview Area Photo Art.”

Now I’m kicking myself for not buying one of Don’s matted and framed creations because, with prices ranging from $7 to $12.50, they’re a steal.

So there you have it, a charming antique store in downtown Belview with an artist running the place.

FYI: Rainbow Antiques, Crafts & Junque, 103 S. Main, is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. Call (507) 938-4476. Maybe Don will open up the shop if you’re in town on a day other than Saturday.

Ruby red glassware is displayed in a front window. To the right in this photo is the blue Belview water tower.

An example of Don Gunelson's Belview Area Photo Art, an area barn.

Some of the merchandise displayed in the main part of the antique store.

A view across the street through one of the large front windows at Rainbow Antiques.

More Belview Area Photo Art by Don Gunelson.

You'll find plenty of collectibles from the area, including this bird thermometer from Olivia.

This colorful folksy farm family graces the north wall of Rainbow Antiques. This photo was shot looking south on Main Street toward Belview's water tower.

Another view of Rainbow Antiques and Main Street Belview looking south.

Check back for more reasons to visit Belview in a future post.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Follow the rainbow to a charming antique store in Belview”

  1. Tom & DeLores Johnson Says:

    Hi Audrey,

    I love this antique shop and have a few things for sale there. If I sell something I don’t
    come out ahead though, because I spend my earnings right there!!

    Next time you come to Belview please stop in at our house. We would love to have
    you and your husband and I am sure we will have something to talk about. I met your
    aunt and uncle a few weeks ago.

    We are still waiting for estimates etc. on our house. Tom did get a different Suburban
    though. So we are glad about that.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      DeLores, I thought of you when we were in Belview and drove by your house. But we just didn’t have time to stop. Thank you for the invitation.

      Good to hear you got the vehicle replaced and are, hopefully, on you way to getting the house repairs made.

  2. Lori Ryer Says:

    Hi, Audrey,
    You were correct in the assumption that Don was the artist responsible for the unique signage at his store. He is an extremely talent artist that doesn’t seem to need to draw attention to his talent so sometimes we have to do it for him. I recall a number of years ago seeing some of his amazing acrylic paintings and marveling at his talent. I suggested that he at least enter them in the local county fair but he didn’t seem too excited at the prospect so I offered to take a painting to the fair for him and pick it up again. I told him he would not be required to do anything so he gave in and let me enter it for him. Not suprisingly, he was awarded a grand champion on his work. It was fun to hear the comments of onlookers admiring his work. Sometime after that we did get him to do a little art show during our Old SOD Day celebration which also was a big hit.
    It is a great store with lots of fun treasures and lucky for me it is only open one day a week. I could not afford it to be open more often! If you are into antiquing you owe it to yourself to stop by for a looksee.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Lori, thanks for the additional info about Don and his art. You are a sweetheart to take it upon yourself to enter his art in the Redwood County Fair. I’m glad his art has also been part of OLD SOD Days. Maybe you can consider expanding that to include other Belview area artists and/or artists who grew up in the area.

  3. Bernie Says:

    I love the way they have some things displayed by color. The red shelf is striking. Good thing they have that fun sign. From the picture I wouldn’t know they were open. Its a cute store. I would be able to poke around in there for quite long.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You would love this antique shop. I didn’t have nearly enough time to poke around. Next time.

  4. Ann Higgins Says:

    Thank you for letting us in the metro in on a wonderful place. I will be sure to stop in!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ann, when you stop in Belview, be sure to tell them Audrey at Minnesota Prairie Roots sent you. Keep reading my posts or check my archives and you’ll likely find other places in “Greater Minnesota” that you’ll want to visit.

      Belview also has a monthly “Small Town Saturday Night” during the summer and an Old SOD Day celebration in September, this year on the 17th. It includes a hot air balloon lift-off. Visit the city website. Two wineries/vineyards are also found just outside Belview, although I have not visited them.

  5. Iylene Kletscher Says:

    Audrey, I visited the Rainbow on Saturday and enjoyed every minute as there is so much to see and also got to chat with Don. He asked me to thank you for doing such a great job on your blog. I remember growing up in rural Belview and we kids would go to the Rainbow Cafe for ice cream cones. It was a wonderful cafe too. Yes, Belview does have a lot to talk about and does a good job with their “small town Saturday night”. We enjoyed the popcorn, hay ride and visiting with our nephew, Kevin, and Kris on Sat. night. They had their pink classic car on display along with other classic cars from the area. Stop in again sometime. We are about done on the inside of our “new” old house now – – -now we have to work on the outside of it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You can bet I’ll stop in again, as long as you have brownies waiting for me. Seriously, Randy and I love your “new” old house. Thanks for the tour.

      Thanks for passing along Don’s “thanks” from Rainbow Antiques. His store is a treasure and I am happy to spread the word about it. Next time I’m in Belview, we’ll have to go shopping together there so you can tell me all about the former Rainbow Cafe and what it looked like back in the day.

  6. Sr. Mary Cecile Gunelson Says:

    Audrey, I thoroughly enjoyed your description of my brother Don’s shop. I called him for his birthday last Saturday and in the course of the conversation he mentioned that you had featured it in one of your blogs. He was delighted with your coverage and I can see why. I am going to pass this on to the rest of the family so they can enjoy it as well.

    Congratulations as well on your blog! I first got acquainted with it when a classmate forwarded it as a source of information on the recent tornado. This time I spent more time browsing. It is a truly worthwhile site and I am going to let as many folks as I can know about it. Thanks for what you are doing.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Sr. Mary. Your brother has a charming antique shop in Belview. Browsing it and meeting him was a wonderful discovery.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts. As you can probably tell, writing and photography are my passions and I truly enjoy sharing both with the readers of Minnesota Prairie Roots. Thanks for spreading the word about my blog.

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