FARGO - Minn Dak Market has filled a gap at the West Acres mall.
The emporium for all things regionally manufactured made a weekend move from its mall home of nearly two years into the former Gap Kids spot in the mall, more than doubling its footprint from 1,800 square feet to more than 4,000 square feet.
The speedy shop swap took place Saturday and Sunday morning.
“We’re definitely excited,” co-owner Greg Kempel said Monday, Feb. 8.
“We’re not 100% set up, we’re still tweaking and arranging, but everything is available to look at and to purchase,” said Kempel. “We hesitated saying we’d be open Sunday, but everyone worked hard. I was raised, that when there’s work to do, to get it done. And the staff we have is phenomenal.”
The store started as a “Pride of Dakota” holiday pop-up kiosk, and moved into its own bay in mid-May 2019. At that time, there were more than 350 items for sale.
Now, there are well over 1,000 items made by artists, artisans and other small producers who hail mostly from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
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“Number 1, we want to help promote local producers. Those are our friends and neighbors. And No. 2, there’s just such a demand for local products right now. It’s just increased” with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kempel said. “With COVID … creativity has really expanded.”
There is a wide variety of food products, including chocolates, jams, jellies, syrups, honey, salsa, nuts, cookies, bars, jerky, slushy mixes, shelf-stable meats, barbecue sauce, Bloody Mary mix, popcorn, soups and pasta sauces. Hot cocoa bombs are a popular item now, Kempel said.
Lotions, candles, bath bombs, soaps and scents populate a “spa” section at the store.
There are gift baskets, souvenirs and other tchotchkes. There are also art and craft kits for hobbyists and for keeping kids occupied for an afternoon.
Beyond edibles, there are books by regional authors and customized metal wall hangings for sports and wildlife fans, Kempel said. And there are practical items such as face masks and hand sanitizer, too.
“We chuckle because there’s so many new items,” Kempel said. “There’s a huge cross-section of potential for gifts. It’s fun because we are spokespeople for our region. And we can say we know who made this.”
Kempel and his wife, Susan, bought out the others who made up the original Minn Dak Market ownership group a year ago.
The Kempels also own Maple River Winery and he is a partner in a business called New World Business Solutions, which makes walk-through sanitizing systems for use on buses and in restaurants and other businesses.
Kempel is happy with the move.
“West Acres has just been tremendous to work with. It’s just phenomenal the camaraderie and the willingness to help,” Kempel said. It’s a win win. We’re a small local business that’s thriving.”
Minn Dak Market is open mall hours, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.