New West Acres store Minn Dak Market on 'mission' to sell local products

Pernell Knutson, left, and Greg Kempel are two of the co-owners of Minn Dak Market, which opened in Fargo's West Acres mall on Wednesday, May 15. The store carries a wide variety of foods and other goods made in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

FARGO — The owners of a former holiday pop-up shop hope their new West Acres store becomes a popular year-round stop.

Minn Dak Market is positioning itself as the Fargo-Moorhead area’s place to get products made by North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota artisans and food producers.

“When people are visiting (a new place), people want to bring something back” home with them, store co-owner Greg Kempel said. “Each item in here has a unique story.”

The store opened May 15 with the hope that Sanford Health Fargo Marathon attendees would give them a fast start on sales.

“We chose the Fargo Marathon week because there are so many people in town,” Kempel said.



Customers from around the country filtered into the shop throughout marathon weekend to seek out souvenirs, tchotchkes or just something new to tantalize their taste buds.
“It was a great marathon weekend. We’re ahead of expectations. It’s fun when you’re shipping a fishing pole to West Virginia. You know you’re doing something right,” Kempel said Thursday, May 23.

Other partners in the shop are sisters Pernell, Jennifer and Paulette Knutson, and Raul Luna.

Kempel, who also co-owns Maple River Winery in Casselton, N.D., said the shop got its start two years ago as a weekend Pride of Dakota mall pop-up shop during the holidays. Last year, it was open for 45 days.

“Afterwards, everyone was asking, ‘Where’s the Pride of Dakota store?’” Kempel said.

Minn Dak Market opened May 15 in the JCPenney wing of Fargo's West Acres mall. The store carries a wide variety of products made in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

Kempel said the store carries about 350 items and the list is growing. Some of the items are one-of-a-kind, others are seasonal, he said.


There is a variety of food products — chocolates, jams, jellies, syrups, honey, salsa, cookies, bars, jerky, slushy mixes, meats, pizza, barbecue sauce, bloody mary mix, popcorn, soups and pasta sauces — made by people in towns big and small in the tri-state region.

Lotions, candles, bath bombs, soaps and scents populate a “spa” section at the store. There is wine from Maple River Winery and beer from Prairie Brothers Brewing in Fargo, too.

Pernell Knutson, who with her sisters makes and markets WildMoon Salsa, said the store also makes up gift baskets and crates.

“You have all these regional products. They aren’t going to be in a Walmart or a Cash Wise,” Knutson said.

She said it’s an honor to sell local wares.

“It’s our mission to represent these products,” Knutson said.

Beyond edibles, there are books by regional authors, cups, T-shirts, yard decorations and fire pits, and metal signs show off school spirit or pride in the military.

“There’s a lot of creativity in this area,” Kempel said.


“There’s a huge cross-section of potential for gifts,” he said. “It’s fun because we are spokespeople for our region. And we can say we know who made this.”

Minn Dak Market is in West Acre's JCPenney wing and is open mall hours, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

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