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Discovering Treasures at the Corner Attic in Sterling

Back to Explore North Dakota
by Luann Dart

Edna Stoltz with the Corner Attic in Sterling, N.D.
Edna Stoltz owns and operates the Corner Attic, an antique and memorabilia store in Sterling, N.D. (Photo By LIza Kessel

From dusty attics or the dark corner of a cupboard, the treasures emerge. Covered in cobwebs, with dangling doorknobs or simply no longer loved, they’re brought to the Corner Attic. There, Edna Stoltz lovingly cleans, restores or refinishes the shimmer back into the treasures to sell at her store, which is bursting with antique, vintage and unique items.

Stoltz operates the store in her home along Highway 83 in Sterling as an extension of her love of antiques and memorabilia that began when she was just a child.

“When I was a little kid, my dad bought me a hope chest,” she says, which led to her life of collecting. “I started buying radios and all kinds of stuff. It was something I liked to do.”

Inside Stoltz’s historic home is her personal treasure trove of collectibles. As a musician, she collects music memorabilia, particularly anything related to Elvis Presley or rock-and-rollers from the 1960s and 1970s. She also has a collection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, and has an eye for antiques.

So, retirement in 2012 found her remodeling a portion of her garage into a store, opening in June with a quaint two-room shop bursting with items that bring exclamations from visitors.

“It only took me four months to fill it up,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve always been a collector and I like to fix things.”

There’s a luxurious lamp from the Patterson Hotel in Bismarck, a wrought-iron baby bed and an intricately carved wooden chest.

Most of her treasures come from families who are downsizing, as their treasures enter her door to find new homes.

“I have a lot of people just stop in who want to downsize and I buy from them. That’s where I get a lot of my really neat stuff,” she says.

“I tell them to never throw anything away,” she adds with a laugh.

Stoltz has also purchased entire collections for resale, like the whimsical cookie jar or the colorful collection of Pez dispensers.

Stoltz sees possibilities in nearly anything, as she restores furniture that’s not antique into reusable items. Drawers that stick are fixed, items are painted to give them new purpose and a use is re-imagined.

“That chair out here, I have plans for that,” she says, pointing to a broken, green armchair resting outside the front door.

A wooden high chair is painted bright yellow as Stoltz envisions a green ivy plant flowing from a planter in the seat. She describes a cupboard she restored into what she calls a “rooster cabinet.”

“It turned out just wonderful. That was the most exciting thing that I redid because it turned out so well,” she says.

“The name of the game is unique,” she says, and her shop overflows with the odd and unusual. “That’s what I look for, something that is different that not every store has.”

She purchases entire estates, goes to rummage sales and purchases from those who bring her items. She then inventories each item, cleans or restores it, then keeps it in storage until a space opens in her shop to sell it. With a large inventory on hand, there’s always something new to see for regular visitors.

She also displays each item with care, staging items that match to show their appeal. An old wedding dress is used as a prop in one corner, while an old hat hangs on a hook by an eclectic painting in another corner.

Every corner of the Corner Attic tells a treasured story.

The Corner Attic is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Thursdays and Sundays.