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Zula - the 'gathering place' on Main - captures femine mystique

This summer's response to Zula's line of women's apparel and accessories has prompted owner Uzi Monka, above, to expand the offerings next season. New designs will be appearing every year, he said. "We try to make sure everyone finds something." (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Zula on Main (Israeli slang for a gathering place to have fun) offers "a wardrobe not to be matched in a traditional department store."

The store is home to unique women's clothing, including the six- and eight-way dresses that afford styles from classic to casual, and the Kariza, a single piece of apparel that has 100 style options. A pamphlet accompanies to demonstrate the styles.

"Or come to the store and we'll show you," said owner Uzi Monka who has opened the second store on Main after response to the Wild Loon.

"It's best to be your own competition," he said.

The Zula is not a copy of the Wild Loon, he said, but an expansion of what he's found to engage patrons - original, custom designs.

His employees have urged him to place signs stating the two stores are under the same ownership. The Wild Loon's loyal customers are taken aback, thinking someone is replicating the Loon. He sees this as a compliment.

Zula holds more feminine clothes than the original, with plans to add more women's items next year - handbags, watches, perfumes, jewelry and clothing among them.

"I think there's a place in town for a store like this," Monka said. "I believe in this town. I think it has a great future, specifically as a tourist area. And with a facelift, it will be much better."

All of his vendors are from the U.S., he explained, but product manufacturing is completed overseas.

"I'm trying to bring things people can't find in the traditional store," he said.

That includes creating custom designed T-shirts for family reunions, sports teams or a photo with dad "and the biggest fish he ever caught," for example.

The construction has impacted the business, which is based on walk-in traffic. "It's the formula; you can't change it."

He admits being troubled by the timing of the downtown construction project, suggesting work should have been underway in May. But when it's over, it will be forgotten, he said.

"Park Rapids is on the right track," he said of the new businesses and restaurants emerging. "The Downtown Business Association and the Chamber are pushing things in the right direction."

It had, after all, been Park Rapids' unique downtown that had spurred his decision to open businesses here in 2007.

"I decided to give it a shot; it was the right decision."

Zula is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The store is seasonal, closing in late fall, but the items will be available at the Wild Loon.