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Custom window treatment store relocates to Miller Hill Mall area in Duluth

Scott Melander, co-owner of Belanger Inc., stands amid samples in the business’s new showroom Friday afternoon. The business, which makes custom window treatments, recently moved from downtown Duluth, where it had operated for 65 years, to the Miller Hill Mall area. This half of the showroom is dedicated to soft window treatments, including valances and drapes. (Clint Austin / / 3
Scott Melander assembles a swag valance in the production room of Belanger Inc. on Matterhorn Drive in Duluth on Friday. The workroom allows custom jobs to be fabricated on-site for customers. (Clint Austin / 2 / 3
Half of Belanger Inc.’s new showroom is dedicated to hard window treatments including blinds and roller shades. (Clint Austin / / 3

For its first 65 years in business, Belanger Inc. operated out of downtown Duluth, most of that time at a storefront at 130 W. First St.

But Belanger isn’t downtown anymore.

In June, Belanger moved to 5007 Matterhorn Drive northwest of Miller Hill Mall where, its owners say, they can better serve customers with a better showroom for their custom window treatments and upholstery services. Moreover, there’s free and easy parking outside.

But as they settle into their new digs, Scott Melander, who owns the business with his brother, Gary, isn’t saying anything bad about downtown.

“Downtown has been very, very good for this company,” he stressed. “We’ve been happy downtown, but this facility gives us the opportunity to expand and enhance our showroom and have a more efficient, practical workspace.”

While at 5,000 square feet, their new space is similar in size to their downtown store, they’re now on one floor instead of two. That allows them to better divide up the space between showroom, offices and production room where many of their products are made on site.

The showroom allows for better display of their offerings of quality draperies, shades and blinds for homes and businesses and their selection of drapery head-rails,

Melander said.

The standalone building formerly was occupied by Relf Optical.

“We moved over a period of time,” he said. “We moved our production  facility first and created the showroom while still doing business downtown.”

Both showroom and workroom were ready for business when they moved over their offices during a weekend.

“We were answering phones Friday downtown and on Monday here,” Melander said.

The business started in 1949 as the Cactus Shade Cloth Co. Russ Belanger bought the business in the mid-1950s. In 1979, Melander’s parents, Don and Bonnie Melander, bought it. When they retired in 1998, their two sons took over the business.

“The Melander family has more time in now than anybody,” Scott Melander said.

 Belanger’s new location is near another home improvement store, Surfaces, which sells flooring, cabinetry and countertops.

“That was our intent,” Melander said of being near like-minded stores.

For the longtime downtown business, the Miller Hill Mall area is a big change. It’s a true shopping district where people drive everywhere, while downtown is turning into an urban area, he noted.

“Downtown is more about offices and urban life now than shopping,” he said. “At one time, all the car dealers were downtown, because all the cars came off the boats. So downtown does evolve. And it has evolved into a different area.”