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Taking cover with new business

April 11, 2011
By Karin Elton ( , Marshall Independent

If the carpet lining your fishing boat is frayed and grungy, John Bunge can fit new marine carpet in it which will have the whole boat looking like new.

Plus he can store the boat in his shop while he works on it.

The garage door was one of the features that caused him to buy the building on 10th Street in Marshall next to Lee's Tae Kwon Do.

Article Photos

Photo by Karin Elton

"I needed a way to get large items in here," Bunge said.

Bunge opened up his shop, called JB's Upholstery and Packs, in November. He retired in September from the Marshall Post Office after 30 years and moved his equipment from his home.

"My wife (Kathleen Ashe) was glad to have the basement back," he said.

Bunge went to school for upholstery 35 years ago and had his own business when they lived in Denver, but joined the post office for a steadier income after he and his wife had children.

He has always kept up with his upholstery skills.

"I've been doing it in my spare time after work at the post office," Bunge said.

Bunge has his previous customers and also new customers that have been brought in from his website which his children set up for him.

His children also inspired him to create new items for sale by having babies of their own. Bunge made a nursing chair covering made out of microsuede which can be removed for laundering, baby booties and a kid's chair.

He also creates backpacks and larger packs which can carry a tent and a sleeping bag.

"I have a hunter's pack made of saddle cloth so it doesn't pick up burs," Bunge said. "It has a waist strap and a chest strap."

A popular design is digital camo, Bunge said.

Bunge said he got interested in upholstery years ago, when, after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a teaching degree, he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Ethiopia.

"I was kind of forced into it (upholstery and furniture making) because I was in a little village and there wasn't any furniture for me," he said. "I had to make some furniture."

He started to make furniture for others as well.

"Some people didn't even have a bed," he said.

Bunge said a lot of his business is seasonal.

"I was repairing fish houses and snowmobile seats and now I'm fixing boats, motorcycles and riding lawnmowers," he said. "That way I get a variety of things to work on."

Bunge said he likes having his own business because he can take time off to go visit his grandkids in Chicago and St. Paul.



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