FARGO—Paul Anderson initially wanted to grow the Stained Glass Workshop into a large business when he bought it for $9,000 in 1978. He envisioned having a staff of artists working in the studio while he traveled around the country bidding large projects. He quickly realized he would rather be the one working in the studio.
"All I was doing was chasing work, cold calling on businesses. It got to a point where I don't think I cut glass for a couple of years," Anderson said. "I finally decided, wait a minute, I want this to be my stuff. I want to be the guy who builds this stuff."
For nearly 40 years, he's worked predominantly alone scoring, cutting and soldering glass in his studio in the Hawthorne neighborhood. His constant companion: talk radio.
Anderson said it's been a lot of fun, but he wants to retire before that's no longer the case.
"I just don't want to spend the next two, three, four years being down here," he said. "I've had too much fun for 40 years, or 44 years, to go out just really getting ground down by it. So, I'm going to kind of slide away."
After July 1, Anderson will no longer accept new commissions or orders for repair and restoration. His inventory of glass, tools, supplies and ready-made stained glass panels and lamp shades are for sale at a 40 percent discount, and he plans to continue dropping prices for the next several months.
Anderson estimates he has enough work to keep him busy for another year. When he's done, he'll sell his studio at 615 9th Ave. S. Built in the 1890s, the building was previously home to a number of businesses, including a grocery store.
In 2014, Anderson tore down and rebuilt much of the structure, mainly to ensure it would remain a commercial property. He said he needed to bring it up to code in order to sell it one day.
"There has been a commercial presence on this property since 1895. I figure, there's always going to be someone like me who would never want to put their business in a strip mall somewhere," he said.
While Anderson will no longer accept commissioned and restoration projects, he said he will continue to cut glass for his 20 or so kitchen cabinet clients. He plans to rent a workspace in north Fargo, where he'll also sell glass-cutting tools and other supplies. He'll work limited hours which he'll post on his website. The motivation for cutting back on hours is his two grandkids who live in Duluth, Minn.
"If I want to spend two weeks in the Boundary Waters, I'm gone," he said.
Anderson will be missed by his numerous church and private clients. When Carol Schlossman learned of his impending retirement, she immediately thought of three windows she would love to have him do. She's previously worked with Anderson to design a window for the home she shares with her husband, Brad, in Fargo.
"I'm sad because the community is losing—well, not losing—but there will be a void without his artistry. I just had so much fun with him. And, he enjoyed doing it. ... He was a great listener. He was a great guide. Ultimately, the finished piece is as good as it is because of Paul," she said.
What: The Stained Glass Workshop
Address: 615 9th Ave. S., Fargo
Contact: (701) 293-9737