Columbia Heights store owners use shop display to bring neighbors together during holidays

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Coming off of election season, when the country is divided on many issues, a Minnesota store owner’s only mission is to bring people together this holiday season.

Warren Kapsner is using the power of the written word and his storefront to share a message of unity. He owns Rapid Graphics and Mailing, a printing shop in Columbia Heights. The holiday display outside his shop first started as a Christmas Nativity Scene but has grown into one that represents many cultures. His goal, he said, was to create something for the entire community.

“I think Christmas and our holiday season could and should be a season of unity,” Kapsner said, “to bring this country together.”

Several holidays are on display, including Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah and Native American Day. The display also includes informational blurbs about different religions and cultures including Buddhism, Hinduism, atheists and the LGBTQ+ community.

“Religion and culture are probably the most critical forces that shape peoples’ lives and it’s deeper or more powerful than the political divide we have in this country,” Kapsner said. “If we can get to know people, just a little bit of knowledge, it leads to acceptance, it leads to understanding and then it leads to friendship.”

The display has caught the attention of people walking by, including Frizell Rucker.

“Oh, it’s excellent!” Rucker said. “You got all cultures, all people, different languages. This is reality.”

He said the display forces people to stop and look and think about their neighbors around them.

“If this wasn’t here, people wouldn’t think about it,” Rucker said. “It forces people to look at the different areas, the different belief systems and it will provoke them to think.”