Clio Logo

The Wintergreen Northern Wear Clothing building was constructed in 1902 (about). It had a varied history as a grocery store, a tavern, and electronics shop before becoming the storefront for Wintergreen Northern Wear that it is today. The clothing business was established in 1985 by Susan and Paul Schurke. Susan designed the clothing initially to support the 1985 North Pole Expedition co-led by her husband Paul Shurke and explorer Will Steger. The clothing, known for its warmth and charming Nordic design is manufactured and sold in Ely. In 2021, the business was sold to brothers Jackson and Gabriel Harren who continue to provide the styles designed by Susan. 

Joseph and Katherine Grahek at the Sportsman Inn

Glasses, Coat, Smile, Bottle

Will Steger's 1985 Dogsled Expedition to the North Pole

Snow, Sky, Flag, Flag of the united states

This was a commercial building in early Ely. Our first information of a specific business here is Grahek Brother’s Meat and Grocery Store, which opened in 1902 (about) and was run by four Grahek brothers, all immigrants from Yugoslavia. The brothers had come to this country in the late 1800s and worked for their uncles, John and Mattie Kapsch who already owned several businesses in Ely.  In the early days, when there were no phones or internet, the brothers walked to their client’s locations in the morning to take orders. Then, in the afternoons, they returned to deliver the groceries in horse-drawn wagons.  

Later, in 1938 (or before) the daughter of one of the brothers, Katherine Grace Grahek and her husband Joseph N. Klun ran the Sportsman’s Inn, at this location. They operated the business for 38 years until they retired in 1975.   

The Sportsman’s Inn often provided respite for tourists and locals who were having their meat butchered or fish filleted next door at the Ely Locker Plant (now the location of Northern Toboggan Co.). This was especially handy since Kathrine’s sister, Marie, ran the locker plant with her husband Kenny Smith. The meat locker butchered deer and moose and filleted fish. They provided longer term freezer space (the lockers) and prepped and shipped product to almost every state in the U.S. for the tourists wanting to take their catch back home.  Marie became famous for her ability to fillet a fish in 30 seconds.  

Joe and Kathrine retired as did Kenny and Marie. 203 East Sheridan was torn down and replaced by the log building you see today, but 205 East Sheridan started a new life as Ely TV and Radio, Julius Zaccagnini owner. The Electronics Shop had a long run from 1976 to the late 1980s. 

In 1990 the shop became the location for Wintergreen Northern Wear Clothing.

Wintergreen was the product of Sue Schurke who designed and constructed the clothing and sled gear for the 1985 North Pole Expedition. This included 49 harnesses for the sled dogs. 

The Expedition, co-led by Will Steger and her husband, Paul Shurke, was the first dogsled journey to the North Pole without re-supply. It was a brutal 1000-mile trip and took 55 days – truly a challenge for dog and human. And Sue’s clothing withstood the challenge. It was made of the most lightweight, breathable nylon available at the time. 

The shop has continued to support arctic expeditions as well as clothing for just-cold places like Ely Minnesota.

Both Will Steger and Paul Schurke have made other expeditions since 1985. Steger led the 1600-mile traverse of Greenland in 1988 (the longest unsupported dogsled expedition) and the first dogsled crossing of Antarctica – a seven-month 3741 mile journey. In 1989 Paul Schurke led the 1000-mile Soviet-American Bering Bridge Expedition across Siberia to Alaska.


1902 – The Grahek Brothers open Grahek Brothers Meat and Grocery

1938 – Joseph and Katherine (Grahek) Klun open the Sportsman’s Inn

1976 – Julius Zaccagnini operates Ely TV and Radio

1990 – Wintergreen Clothing /Northern Wear– Sue and Paul Schurke

2009 – Wintergreen Clothing (Kurt and Becky Stacy)

2015 – Wintergreen Northern Wear – Sue and Paul Shurke

2021 – Wintergreen Northern Wear – Jackson and Gabriel Harren

Ely Since 1888 (The Blue Book). Ely, Minnesota. The Ely Echo, 1988. Accessed April 3rd, 2022.

Ely Phone Directories from 1949-2020 (available at the Ely-Winton Historical Society).

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Ely-Winton Historical Society

Wintergreen Northern Wear