When most people contemplate retirement, they think about traveling, sitting on the beach or in other ways taking life easy.

That is not the case for Jim and Joni Nieland of Redwood Falls. In fact, their retirement plan includes starting out on a new venture that will keep them very busy.

While neither of them have stepped down from their current roles, both are looking into the future and have found what they want to do when that decision to take the next step is made.

One year ago in July, the Nielands purchased a piece of property on Second Street with the intent of opening up a book and quilt shop. That project is still under way.

Having purchased two separate buildings, discussions about how to utilize some of that space led to what they have called “The Tables,” which is a meeting room they have created that can be used for anything from business meetings to family celebrations, such as a graduation.

“We already have people who want to use the room,” said Joni Nieland. 

She added they have five reservations ranging from a birthday party to a Thanksgiving dinner.

It was Nieland who had the vision to own a book store, and so when the reality that retirement was coming in the not-too-distant future, they started looking for places where that idea could come to fruition. They found it in the two buildings they now own that not only include The Tables and the future book store and quilt shop but also have two office spaces that are for rent and five apartments that are currently occupied.

Nieland, an RVHS science teacher, has a passion for painting, which is evident throughout the environment at The Tables. She not only painted the entire room herself but also painted each of the nine unique tables that have been set up for those who will use the space.

“I have always wanted to have a room where I could host painting classes,” said Nieland, adding she has held them in her home in the past but added the new space at The Tables is much more conducive for that. “The gathering spot I wanted to use for painting classes just sort of evolved from that to what we have now.”

With lots of walls in the new room, Nieland began to wonder what she could do to help enhance the space, and through interactions with a friend was able to secure a number of paintings done by a Bemidji native – Dr. Perry Patterson.

Patterson, who lived a life dedicated to the arts, studied art and theater and then spent his career teaching at various venues from Iowa State University to the University of Sioux Falls. Patterson’s paintings which now hang on the walls at The Tables, are landscape scenes with the primary theme of places in northern Minnesota – particularly the Bemidji area. Patterson developed a reputation for his art work, and those who stop by to look at it will quickly understand why.

In order to help introduce the new business in downtown Redwood Falls, the Nielands are having an open house and art show this coming Saturday (Sept. 23) during the Fall Festival in Redwood Falls.

During the day people can come in to check out the meeting space, enjoy the art and talk with the Nielands about their vision while enjoying some refreshments.

The Tables unofficially opened this past July, and Nieland said that people who have stopped by to see it have been impressed with what they have seen.

The tables that have been set up were purchased by Nieland at local garage sales, thrift stores and auctions, and each tabletop has a unique scene that reflects everything from science to the outdoors.

The public is invited to check out The Tables this coming Saturday to see for themselves what the new business is all about and to learn how they can rent the space for their event.

To learn more, send an e-mail to the Nielands at chapter2andtables @gmail.com.