by Nathan Warner
Brad and Nancy Bjorkman opened Heppner’s Legacy Homeschool Resources store Nov. 28 at its new location in the former Bread of Life Bookstore in downtown Elk River.
They moved from their old location on Highway 10 where they had operated since 2007.
Nancy says the move is a huge improvement. “We have so much more space here,” she said, “with a large meeting room for workshops, a kids playroom and a paved parking lot.”
Both Brad and Nancy were sorry to see Bread of Life close its doors in July, but they say they feel privileged to continue ministry at the same site. From the beginning, the Bjorkmans have always viewed their work as a ministry to families more than a business.
Heppner’s Legacy carries over 3,000 titles in store and shelves over 9,000 items. This is something of a milestone, Brad says, because before homeschooling became more mainstream in the 1990s, most educational curriculums were only available to accredited schools.
“Back in the 1980s when homeschooling was in its infancy, parents had to work hard to find quality curriculum,” he adds, “so in order to continue helping homeschooling families, we continue to forge strong relationships with publishers today on the foundation that the Heppner family built years ago.”
Heppner’s Legacy was originally owned by DuWayne and Miriam Heppner of Warroad, who began homeschooling their 17 children in the 1980s. The business was initially called Heppner & Heppner Construction and they launched a storefront in Warroad in 1994 servicing home educators as far away as Wyoming, Manitoba, Canada, and even Germany, where families of soldiers in the U.S. armed forces were raising their children.
The Heppners’ ministry grew rapidly, and they found it increasingly difficult to focus on raising their family, so they sought to sell the business to someone who would preserve the vision they had created. The Bjorkmans, who were good friends of the Heppners, bought the company in 2007 and moved it to Elk River.
The move made it possible for the business to be closer to a larger number of homeschooling families in the Twin Cities area. Regardless of distance, however, parents continue to stop by the store.
“We recently had three separate families visit our business from Fargo, N.D.,” Nancy said, “which is over a six-hour round trip! That tells us we’re doing something right here.”
Brad affirms that the goal of Heppner’s Legacy is to help parents educate their children regardless of whether they are homeschooling their children or not, citing the store’s mission statement that “It is our Ministry and Mission to help you Succeed in the Comprehensive Education of Your Children.”
The Bjorkmans just saw their last and youngest child off to college this year, which was the proud culmination of 20 years homeschooling their three daughters and one son. They have applied each and every experience of those years to their work, but they add that they aren’t trying to pressure people to follow their lifestyle.
“It isn’t our job to convince anyone to homeschool their children,” Brad says. “We help parents everywhere who are concerned about their children’s education regardless of whether they are in home, public, private or charter schools.”
According to the Bjorkmans, Heppner’s Legacy is the only store of its kind in the Upper Midwest. “There are homeschooling businesses that operate out of their garages and online,” Nancy said, “but we are the only physical store I’m aware of that sells exclusively new homeschooling materials across Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri.”
Brad says the economic downturn hasn’t slowed business at all. “Over the years I’ve seen how committed these parents are to their children’s education,” he said. “They’ll put off buying a new car or eating out just to ensure their children are learning quality material.” He says another factor he’s seen in this economy is that some parents who can no longer afford private school and don’t want to send their kids to public school turn to homeschooling.
Even so, Brad says that homeschooling costs a whole lot less than most people think, adding that he surveyed over 100 homeschooling families and on average it only costs $500 to educate their entire family for a year.
Regardless of their situation, the Bjorkmans are eager to help home educators. They said they look forward to meeting families face to face and supporting the education of their children in any way they can while the families browse and shop in the homey, friendly atmosphere of Heppner’s Legacy Homeschool Resources any time of the year.
Heppner’s Legacy Homeschool Resources is located at 369 Jackson Ave. in Elk River. Call them at 763-241-4663 or visit them online at www.legacyhomeschool.com.