George bailey at the fictional Bedford Falls via Shutterstock
No, this isn't a recap of George Bailey's contributions to the fictional Bedford Falls in It's a Wonderful Life, but we found this story about a trailblazer in an actual idyllic Minnesota town equally heart-warming.
A few years ago, Andrea Stordahl and her family moved from the Fargo area to MacIntosh (population 625) in northwestern Minnesota. The town was in sad decline, with shuttered businesses along the main drag. So Stordahl took some bold steps.
She had run a vintage business before the move, and she bought an old building in MacIntosh and opened a store there. She named it Minnesota Rust. (Is that a great name or what?) And with help from her contractor husband and local Amish carpenters, she opened the business last year.
The community support was tremendous. “People really embraced it and supported us,” Stordahl said. “And I think it kind of changed the whole tone downtown.”
But that was just the start.
Last spring, she and her husband bought several other vacant buildings and set to work on renovations. Now three buildings are restored, and Stordahl has found tenants for them—a gift shop, a salon, and a soap and candle business. Next up? A café. Because, Stordahl said, all towns need “a place to shake dice and have coffee.”
No word yet on whether the rejuvenation efforts will endure, but Stordahl has definitely had a huge impact.
“She has basically, all by herself, revitalized that downtown area,” said Grant Oppegaard, who grew up in the town and is now an adviser to the Small Business Development Center in 12 northwest Minnesota counties. “She did it in about half the time and with half the money I would have guessed.”