Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Focus on Minnesota Nice (Enough) October 19, 2020

Stickers span generations. Here my granddaughter, then two, looks at her Poppy stickers. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo April 2018.

WHEN MY GIRLS, now in their early 30s, were growing up, sticker books were all the rage. They filled mini books with stickers. Peel stickers from sheets of glossy paper and adhere them to blank pages. Horses. Kitties. And much more. Cute and bold Lisa Frank designs mostly in a vivid rainbow of hues, strong on pinks and purples.

Park and other stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon at a Faribault Car Cruise Night, proving that even adults value stickers. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 2016.

My daughters loved paging through their sticker books. Stickers still hold universal appeal. For all ages. (The stickers of my era were lick-and-stick to scenes printed on pages of a sticker book.)

That segues to Minnesota Nice Enough, a Nisswa-based company that crafts weatherproof vinyl stickers that are not your kids’ mass-produced outsourced stickers. These are promoted as “made by real people who care about quality, art, beer, bicycles & dogs.” Now that appeals to me.

Babe the Blue Ox sculpture in Nisswa. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2017.

I first learned about this company during a September visit to Nisswa, a small tourist town located in Minnesota’s central lakes region. Randy and I were in the area, staying at a family member’s guest lake cabin. One day, we ventured into nearby Nisswa to check out the many shops that define this town. Those businesses include Zaiser’s Gift Shop, billing itself as “serving the Nisswa lakes area since 1947 with the most kick-ass products this side of the Milky Way!”

Small grassroots shops line downtown Nisswa.

Already I like this business. Humor and creativity rate high with me. And Biff Ulm, MN Nice Enough creative head who also owns the family retail boutique, obviously possesses both. One need only scroll through the sticker offerings (also sold on etsy) to confirm that. (The business also sells mugs.)

Paul Bunyan, carved into a totem pole at the Totem Pole shop in Nisswa.

Many stickers feature a decidedly northwoods Minnesota theme with buffalo plaid, Paul Bunyan, moose, pines, loons, canoes… Others highlight Minnesotans’ idiosyncrasies like calling pop “pop,” not soda. And calling hotdish “hotdish,” not casserole. And, as promised, beer gets some love in several stickers, including Minnesota and Wisconsin-shaped beer mugs. Yes, Wisconsin also gets lots of love from Minnesota Nice Enough. And, yes, you can purchase a Minnesota Nice Enough sticker, too.

The sticker that initially grabbed my attention.

But it was the oversized ALL WELCOME sticker in the front window of Zaiser’s that first grabbed my attention and led me to learn more about Minnesota Nice Enough (which also features products for adult, not kids’, eyes). That spotlight sticker proclaims that all are welcome. All cultures, beliefs, colors, sizes, ages and identities. And at a time when our nation is so divided, so filled with animosity toward one another, I appreciate this message. It gives me hope, uplifts and encourages me. Thank you, Minnesota Nice Enough.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

6 Responses to “Focus on Minnesota Nice (Enough)”

  1. Littlesundog Says:

    We called soda “pop” too, in Nebraska. I’m almost afraid to say anything anymore, it seems people are offended by most any phrase. I’m surprised too that there hasn’t been some reason to hack Paul Bunyan up with an axe, and find some fault with that adventurous folklore. Nothing is safe from attack.

    Forrest and I were presented with beautiful metal artwork called a “story totem” nearly a year ago. It is a seven-foot totem sculpture of our story as a couple and the work we do here with wildlife. We haven’t put the sculpture up. I do not know if the Nisswa shop owner with the beautiful totem is Caucasian or not, but around here, unless you have Native American roots, you’d be asking for trouble displaying a totem pole. I’m not sure these are safe times for many of us, even though we live peaceably and respectfully.

    • Your story totem sounds like a beautiful, personal gift. I’m sorry you don’t feel comfortable displaying it. But your concern is legitimate.

      I don’t know anything about the owner of the Totem Pole or how long the shop has been in business. But while outside the shop taking photos, I overheard a young mom tell her family that she used to come here when she was a child and ride on the toy horse (the kind you insert coins into) as a child. There is a Native American population in this region of Minnesota.

  2. I want to go! This looks like such fun to visit! 🙂

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    I like the name Minnesota Nice Enough, and their company philosophy.


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