113 Parkway Ave North, PO Box 27
Lanesboro, MN 55949
WE HAVE PRIVATE CUSTOMER PARKING AVAILABLE IN THE BACK OF OUR STORE & 10 MINUTE SPOTS AVAILABLE IN FRONT!
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Monday - Thursday
10 AM to 9 PM
Friday & Saturday
10 AM to 10 PM
State law mandates to be closed on Sundays.
Grandma's Garden Transformed: Granny's Liquor
By Bretta Grabau
Lori Bakke owned Grandma's Garden in Lanesboro. For 14 years she provided the town with a floral and gift shop that many community remember with fondness. Then she closed it. Now, over a year later, Bakke opened her doors once again -- this time as a liquor store.
Bakke is a licensed practical nurse in family medicine. She worked with a young practice in Rochester working with newborns and everything surrounding them. But she missed Lanesboro, not to mention the 10 minute commute to work rather than an hour and 20 minutes. "I have been a part of Buffalo Bill Days for years, but last year I realized how much I missed Lanesboro," she described.
She and her family still owned the building that once was Grandma's Garden and the apartments above. It was empty, except for a brief stint where a squatter lived there. Even though nothing was in there, Bakke still had to pay taxes on the property and apartments. Just thinking on it makes sense logically to have a business and revenue coming in to help pay for the building.
In January this year, the family made a decision. They would start another business. The problem was to figure out what kind of business. But that's when everything started coming together.
"I knew the Parkway Pub had sold and that the Hamann's did not want to keep the off-sale liquor license. So my son thought of a liquor store," she said. Filling an empty building was just one part of the goal. Generating income was another. Yet another was keeping the business going all-year round. The town already had a number of gift shops, so the liquor store idea was a hit.
Before they implemented it, they did do research, inquiring of other liquor stores in the county such as TJ's Liquor in Spring Valley and another in Chatfield. In order to continue to be courteous of the Lanesboro community, though, the Bakke's did not want to end up taking away any business from other shops in town, particularly the saloon.
"I talked to Tony at the saloon about this because I didn't want to affect his business. He has been very supportive," Bakke shared. By February renovations were underway. It was a family project. Bakke's husband and three sons pitched in. One son is especially involved, coming to help her at the store on evenings and weekends.
It's not a typical liquor store, though. It has a unique, rustic flare contributed by creative decorations. Doors from the Bakke house before renovations, doors mounted on the walls for signs. Windows acting as a blackboard. Old barn wood for a frame and even a door cut out to the exact size needed for an employee's only entrance in the back. The creativity could not simply stop there.
"I did not want this to be a typical liquor store. I wanted it to have a rustic flare. This building used to be a restaurant," Bakke noted, relating to the history behind the building and its treasure of a floor.
When Grandma's Garden occupied the area, the floor was carpeted. During the remodeling to prepare the building for it's new use as a liquor store, that carpeting was torn up, revealing the original wood floor from the 1870s. It was not perfect and did need repairs. There were holes, parts filled in with plywood and about an inch of crud and glue on the wood. It certainly did not
look like a treasure at first. Now it does, though, thanks to the hard work of Aaron Dybing, who removed the glue and stain to reveal the wood's natural color. And then there is the bike resting on one of the coolers. Yes, it is a bike -- a neat looking, green Rolling Rock bike to be exact -- more than six feet in the air on top of a bunch of liquor bottles.
One other interesting difference Granny's Liquor has from other liquor stores is the display windows. This presented another problem for the Bakkes to figure out how to make the store even more appealing outside. The opening was Thursday, May 7. In the display windows are fun sets of a beer barrel and equipment in one, and in the other sits Granny in her rocking chair. "There's another side to Granny where she gets crazy in the evening," Bakke joked.
As of Wednesday, May 13, Bakke had already seen a tremendous response from the Lanesboro community. Residents are excited to see the selection offered at the store -- especially when walking into the room in back, Grandpa's Beer Den. The area is a refrigerated area where once flowers were stored. With the renovations, the area was expanded to where people could walk into it and choose their beer. "Everyone has been so supportive. The community has welcomed me back with open arms. I've only been open five days and I already have repeat custor.lers," she stated. "The B&B's are excited about having a good selection of wine so close and people are excited that we have such a selection on craft beer."
As a part of the research the Bakke's did before opening, she and her son began compiling the marketing plan for the business. There will be a preferred customer list and a senior citizen's discount on Wednesdays. The goal is to have a special each week.
The name Granny's Liquor partly came from what the community already knew for that building. "Everyone thinks of this building as Grandma's Garden, so we kept it Granny's Liquor," Bakke mentioned. Granny's Liquor isn't just a place to buy liquor. It's a place to have a good time. There are sodas available and some wine accessories. Plus, and this is where Bakke's LPN comes in, "Granny" has cookies available for those young families that bring their kids with them to the store.
"It feels good to be here again and support the community. I'm not trying to promote liquor. I'm hying to promote people to have fun," she said. "I hope this will be a successful business based on customer service. I want to grow with the business and stay here for a long time. I hope my kids will take over too," she continued. Lanesboro has seen a lot of activity in the past few months with 10 new businesses coming in and new directors of business and tourism. Granny's Liquor offers a new source for commullity members and businesses alike. Not to mention the enticing cookies for kids.