“We’re offering fun, unique, local holiday gifts around delicious food in a really fun setting where we’ll get good foot traffic.” said Isadore Nut Co. owner Tasya Rosenfeld Kelen. “Also, we love that we’re four Jews next to Santa.”
“Minnesota has always been known for food, everything from General Mills to Pillsbury, but the artisan food wave is coming,” said North Mallow’s Mike Nelson. “Ridgedale could’ve gotten any national player to go into the center court, but they lowered their rent by half, during the Christmas season, to trust local and see what we can do.”
The idea first came together when Brett Striker of Maddy & Maize and Robyn Frank of Thumbs Cookies separately went to Ridgedale to look at the possibility of leasing kiosk space. Frank said that while the leasing agent at the mall had been initially looking for one tenant for that space, the “shop local” collaboration had been well received.
Frank has some experience of working in this area after being a part of a shop local pop-up at Mall of America last year.
“Last year was difficult to get visibility because it took a while to get everything organized and came together later in the game. I felt Ridgedale was the perfect place this season because there’s lots going on there. There are more people that come through the Mall of America, but sometimes it’s not how many people, but who the customer is.”
Before they can open up the shop, they need to build out the space. Kelen said they are going to Ikea to pick out the fixtures, get signage made and hire more people.
“We need to be in the kitchens to make our product and do the heavy lifting,” Kelen said. “But we want to find the best way to showcase each product because each has a great story to tell.”
Said Striker: “It’s been a lot of fun, especially seeing our styles of working. Some of us had thoughts turned down, but in the end we’ve all made it work. That’s what’s going to help it be successful is all the ideas coming together.”
The four foodies bring four different products to the table. Nelson sells four different flavors of artisan marshmallows; Frank sells cookies; Kelen sells a variety of organic and sustainable cashew, walnut and pecan nut mixes; and Striker sells many different flavors of popcorn. Nelson said that as the process has gone along, each of the four are bringing something different to the table.
“The great part is we all have different talents,” he said. “It’s fun to work with them. When we get together, we talk business, but we also know that we can joke around. If you’re not having fun selling cookies, popcorn, nuts and marshmallows, why are you doing it? We have a group text chat. If you saw that, it exemplifies who we are as a group.”
Said Frank: “I can safely say that everyone, in one way or another, has helped me. One of the reasons I wanted to work with each of them is that I like and trust them.”