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Area welcomes small business startups

Area welcomes small business startups

Blink Eyewear opened in downtown Bismarck in March.

The shop at 234 W. Broadway Ave. is a full-service optical. Customers can bring in a prescription and have glasses made and fitted on site. Owner Kelley Dockter said she tries to create a cozy personal shopper experience in her boutique-style shop.

“I’ve been an optician for 16 years and it’s always been a dream of mine,” she said. “I just love selling glasses. It’s my passion.”

Dockter said the business has gone well from the beginning. People in Bismarck-Mandan are supportive of small business and she stays busy.

“There are so many resources in Bismarck for small business,” she said. “Everybody wants to help you.”

Mandan Diner and Soda Fountain opened in July in the old Mandan Drug at 316 W. Main St.

“Everybody was missing the old soda fountain and we were tired of seeing it not open, so we decided to buy it and open it up,” Susan Leingang said. “I love it down here.”

Leingang and her husband, Dave Leingang, bought and renovated the store in January 2013.

The diner serves old-fashioned soda, cappuccinos, pies, cakes and Lindy Sue’s Candies.

Those searching for healthier fare have a choice of homemade sandwiches, salads, soups or a daily special like shepherd’s pie.

Leingang said her customers love the food. In the afternoons, kids line the soda fountain stools for ice cream after school.

Mike Peluso has found more than one way to turn his fishing habit into a variety of businesses.

Peluso started manufacturing Zack Shack ice fishing houses in Mandan. He expanded the fishing concept into Bis-Man Bait-N-More bait shop when he relocated the ice house business to 4515 Memorial Highway in Mandan last April.

“I’m obviously a fisherman at heart, and having the contacts I do in the industry, it seemed like a good fit,” he said.

Peluso said the store offers the typical bait shop services like ice and minnows.

He’s taken it a step further, offering fishing guide services and shack rental — something he said people can find on Minnesota lake shores but haven’t had in Bismarck-Mandan previously.

Food service

In the spring, a mobile food truck, Norm’s Eatery, will serve up burgers and sandwiches for Peluso’s customers as well as other people on the east end of “the Strip” during lunch hour.

The bait shop has been a good thing for the fishing house business. Peluso said customers will come in for a fishing report and leave with a shack.

But that’s not all.

The shacks were good for warming houses for oil field companies, so Peluso began manufacturing Frac Shacks. The companies place the houses on work sites for their employees to get a brief reprieve from the cold.

“We never had any of that stuff until we moved over here,” he said.

Four months ago, Mighty Missouri Coffee started appearing on the shelves of Bismarck-Mandan grocery stores and coffee shops.

Owner Brian Jackson roasts coffee beans for wholesale in his roasterie in northeast Bismarck.

Jackson’s coffees are single origin, meaning the beans all come from the same farm, whether it be in Colombia or Kenya.

Jackson said his love of coffee stems from memories of grabbing a cup of joe before heading to Lake Sakakawea near his hometown of Hazen.

He said he wants others to associate his coffee with their own positive experiences, and a small grass-roots movement has sprung up around that mantra.

A coffee shop of his own may be a possibility in the future, Jackson said.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or


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