Best of the Lakes Area 2021

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of the LAKES AREA 2021

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Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 1

BEST OF THE LAKES AREA AWARDS Each year, residents of the Alexandria area recognize their favorite businesses and organizations in the Best of the Lakes Contest* (sponsored by the Echo Press). Thank you for recognizing us in eight categories this year.

We’re honored!

• Assisted Living Facility | Grand Arbor by Knute Nelson • Senior Living (55+) | Grand Arbor by Knute Nelson • Senior Care Center | Knute Nelson • • • • •

Senior Care Center | Grand Arbor Assisted Living Facility | Knute Nelson Fitness Center | Nelson Wellness Center by Knute Nelson Physical Rehabilitation Facility | Knute Nelson Care Center Large Company (50+) | Knute Nelson

T hank you to all who choose us to serve them and their loved ones, the dedicated teams who care for them, and the dynamic, supportive Alexandria-area community.

*The Echo Press received thousands of nominations for businesses and organizations, from hardware stores and gyms to restaurants and accountants—and everything between. Nominations were pared down to finalists, and voting took place throughout September. 2 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

! a e r A s e k a L u o Y k Than u o Y k n Tha

to our loyal customers and to our great staff! BEST Wings! BEST Bar! BEST Happy Hour! Runner Up

BEST Steak BEST Catering BEST Dinner

Our family welcomes yours!

Hwy 29 N • Alexandria• 320-762-1324 Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 3

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Best of the Lakes Area Contest The results are in. It’s time to honor the Best of the Lakes Area. This past July, we asked our readers to nominate the best local businesses and we were overwhelmed with the response with over 9,500 nominations. Then in September we asked our readers to vote on the best businesses and tallied over 87,000 votes in 98 categories.


This last year has been a tough one, but our local businesses and organizations have prevailed and we applaud each and every one of them. They have all, once again, given our readers many reasons why they are the best in the lakes area. Area businesses work hard to earn the support of not only the local residents, but also the thousands of annual visitors to our lakes area. This contest shows that area businesses continue to produce high quality products while delivering great customer service. Thank you to our readers for sharing their nominations and voting for their favorites, helping us recognize the area’s best.








225 7TH AVE. EAS T ALEX ANDRIA, MN 5630 8 320-763-3133 www.e c ho pre ss.c o m 4 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021



Eats | Drinks | Entertainment BEST BUFFET

1. Pizza Ranch 2. Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center


1. DJ’s Tap House & Grill 2. The Boulder Tap House - Alexandria


1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. D. Michael B’s Resort Bar & Grill



1. Raapers Catering Company 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar


1. Roers Family Bakery 2. Country Blossom Farm

1. Caribou Coffee 2. Common Ground Coffee House



1. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar 2. Pike & Pint Grill

BEST BEER SELECTION 1. DJ’s Tap House & Grill 2. Copper Trail Brewing

BEST BLOODY MARY 1. DJ’s Tap House & Grill 2. Leaf Valley Mercantile Bar & Grill

1. Lake Country Meats 2. Elden’s Fresh Foods


1. Tip Top Dairy Bar 2. Dairy Queen


1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar


1. DJ’s Tap House & Grill 2. McDonald’s

BEST GOLF COURSE 1. Geneva Golf Club 2. Alexandria Golf Club

BEST HAPPY HOUR 1. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar 2. Pike & Pint Grill

BEST LIVE MUSIC/ PERFORMANCE VENUE 1. Andria Theatre 2. Carlos Creek Winery

BEST LOCAL COMMUNITY EVENT 1. Art in the Park 2. Grape Stomp


1. Travelers Inn Restaurant 2. Pike & Pint Grill

BEST OUTDOOR DINING 1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. Lure Lakebar



1. Travelers Inn Restaurant 2. Northwoods Cafe

1. Great Hunan Chinese Restaurant 2. Mi Mexico





1. Copper Trail Brewing 2. Thousand Lakes Brewing Company

1. Culver’s 2. QDOBA Mexican Eats

BEST PLACE FOR WINTER FAMILY FUN 1. Andes Tower Hills 2. Garden Center Lanes

BEST RESTAURANT 1. Pike & Pint Grill 2. D. Michael B’s Resort Bar & Grill


1. Corral Saloon & Eatery 2. D. Michael B’s Resort Bar & Grill

BEST SANDWICH SHOP 1. La Ferme 2. Jimmy John’s


1. Interlachen Inn 2. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar


1. Gathered Oaks 2. Carlos Creek Winery

BEST WINE SELECTION 1. Carlos Creek Winery 2. The Garden Bar on 6th

BEST WINERY 1. Zorbaz 2. Two Guyz Take & Bake Pizza 1. Carlos Creek Winery 2. Rolling Forks Vineyards 1. Casey’s Amusement Park 2. Country Blossom Farm


1. Angelina’s Restaurant & Bar 2. Hatchery Bar and Grill

BEST FOOD TRUCK 1. Flavor Shack 2. Raapers

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 5






1. Legacy Hearing Centers 2. Miracle Ear

BEST ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY 1. Grand Arbor By Knute Nelson 2. Knute Nelson


1. Godfrey Chiropractic and Wellness 2. The Lakes Family Chiropractic


1. Dentistry at the Center 2. Einerson Family Dentistry

BEST EYE CLINIC 1. Eye Associates of Alexandria 2. Lake Region Eye Center


1. Noonan Sport Specialists 2. Nelson Wellness Center by Knute Nelson


1. Alexandria Clinic 2. WELL & Company


1. Trumm Drug Downtown 2. Thrifty White Pharmacy


1. Alomere Heartland Orthopedic Specialists - Alexandria 2. Knute Nelson Care Center

BEST PHYSICIAN 1. Dr. Dan Kryder 2. Dr. Brian Carlsen


1. Knute Nelson Care Center 2. Grand Arbor By Knute Nelson


1. Grand Arbor By Knute Nelson 2. Bethany on the Lake


1. Glenwood State Bank 2. Bell Bank


1. I Candee 2. Tied: Buku Lashes and Ella’s Salon

BEST ACCOUNTANT 1. Jensen PA 2. Silbernick Accounting


1. Hanson Auctioneers 2. Ziemer Auction Services

BEST AUTO REPAIR 1. Becker Auto Repair 2. Tiremaxx Service Center - Alexandria


1. Glenwood State Bank 2. Bell Bank

BEST BARBER SHOP 1. 100% Advisory Men`s Haircuts 2. Sport Clips Haircuts of Alexandria

BEST CAR WASH 1. Woodys Car Wash 2. 4 Seasons Carwash Alexandria


1. Alexandria Area YMCA 2. Theresa McGinn home Daycare

BEST CLEANING SERVICE 1. Rantasha Services 2. Fresh Looks

6 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021



1. Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory 2. Lind Family Funeral & Cremation Services


1. Alex Rubbish & Recycling Inc 2. West Central Sanitation

BEST HAIR SALON 1. Polished Looks Salon + Spa 2. Ella’s Salon


1. Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical 2. Greeley Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning


1. Amy Christopherson - State Farm Insurance Agent 2. Ryan Witte - State Farm Insurance Agent

BEST LANDSCAPE/ IRRIGATION 1. Colorful Seasons Garden Center 2. Alex Irrigation & Landscaping


1. Glenwood State Bank 2. Knute Nelson


1. McCarten Law Firm 2. Pemberton Law

BEST MANUFACTURING COMPANY 1. Douglas Machine Inc 2. Alexandria Industries


1. Massage by Sarah Roers 2. Modern Med Spa


1. Glenwood State Bank 2. Bell Bank

BEST NAIL SALON 1. Nails of Alex 2. Ella’s Salon

BEST NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION 1. Lakes Area Humane Society 2. Love INC Douglas County Lakes Area

BEST PHOTOGRAPHER 1. Amanda Becker Photography 2. Jennifer Guenther Photography

BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY 1. Carl Kvale-Kvale Real Estate 2. Central MN Realty




1. Noonan Sport Specialists 2. Integrity Title Inc


1. Glow. 2. iBeach Tan & Nails


1. RM Tattoo & Body Piercing 2. TNT Top Notch Tattoo


1. Integrity Title Inc 2. Douglas County Abstract Co

BEST VETERINARY CLINIC 1. Alexandria Veterinary Clinic 2. Glacial Ridge Veterinary Clinic P.A.


1. Colorful Seasons Garden Center 2. Broadway Floral


1. Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center 2. Brophy Lake Resort



BEST ANTIQUE STORE 1. Yesterday’s 2. Past & Present Home Gallery


1. Cullen’s Home Center 2. Menards

BEST BICYCLE SHOP 1. Jake’s Bikes 2. Alex Bike Shop


1. Alex Auto & Marine LLC 2. Stub’s Marine Inc

BEST BUILDING SUPPLY STORE 1. Hilltop Lumber 2. Menards


1. Paul’s Small Engine Sales & Service 2. Hilltop Camper and RV

BEST CAR DEALERSHIP 1. Juettner Motors 2. Alexandria Motors

BEST CONVENIENCE STORE 1. Casey’s 2. Brother’s Market


1. Arnquist Carpets Plus COLORTILE 2. Carpet One Flooring and Home

1. Creative Touch Boutique 2. The Edge Co.

BEST GROCERY STORE 1. Elden’s Fresh Foods 2. Cub Foods

BEST HARDWARE STORE 1. Ace Hardware 2. Menards


1. Cullen’s Home Center 2. Douglas Furniture

BEST JEWELRY STORE 1. Hedine Jewelry Store 2. Diekman’s Jewelry


1. Cash Wise Liquor 2. Plaza Liquor

BEST MEAT MARKET 1. Lake Country Meats 2. Miltona Custom Meats & Sausage

BEST PAINT STORE 1. Sherwin-Williams Paint Store 2. Ace Hardware


1. Osakis General Store and Guns Galore 2. Cowing Robards Sports


1. Tiremaxx Service Center 2. Plaza Tire & Auto

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 7



Eats | Drinks Entertainment

Best Appetizer, Best Dinner, Best Outdoor Dining and Best Restaurant Pike and Pint Grill

110 30th Avenue W., Alexandria, MN 320-763-7468 “Handcrafted food made with passion always!” Pike and Pint Grill, founded by Kent Kopp in April 2015, offers a full service, chef-driven menu, with local and regional craft beers, handcrafted cocktails, a great wine list and

Best Bar, Best Happy Hour and Best Wings Angelina’s Restaurant and Bar 1215 Hwy. 29 N., Alexandria 320-762-1324

Angelina’s Restaurant and Bar opened its doors in 1971. For the past 28 years, it has been owned and operated by Robbie Carlsen. Carlsen’s history with the restaurant, however, dates back to the 1980s. At age 15, his first job was as a dishwasher at Angelina’s. The pandemic has been onerous for

boasts about 70 employees. Although it is an independent, locallyowned restaurant, Kopp said he is often asked if Pike and Pint is part of a chain of restaurants due to its “polished look and consistent quality and service.” Pike and Pint saw some big changes over the last year, he said. “We remodeled our inside dining area in May,” he said. “And, we built a new patio with outdoor bar, fireplace, fire pits and waterfall

wall in June.” He believes they were chosen as one of the best in the area because of his incredible staff, the recent remodel and patio expansion. “It has created a lot of excitement about Pike and Pint,” he said.

restaurants, but Angelina’s continues to shine. It won three awards in the 2021 Best of the Lakes Area contest, including Best Bar, Best Happy Hour and Best Wings. Carlsen noted that he and his crew of about 50 employees strive to be both a familyfriendly restaurant and also a fun bar for its customers. “Being chosen as ‘the best’ in several categories tells us we are doing right by our customers.” Angelina’s is open seven days a week at 11 a.m. with daily specials and happy hour bar specials. “We have a wide variety of menu items, including our homemade garlic toast, pizzas,

wings, steak, pastas, salads, wraps and much more,” said Carlsen. “And our catering service is used by many for weddings and special events.” Carlsen also noted that Angelina’s offers a private room to book for parties or private events.

Best Beer Selection, Best Bloody Mary, Best Burger and Best Fries DJ’s Tap House

3007 Hwy. 29 S., Suite 103, Alexandria 320-335-2206 According to their website, “DJ’s Tap House and Grill is a locally-owned restaurant that is excited to serve the community that we, as owners, have been a part of for many years. We are excited to give the lakes area a great selection of beers and a new creative menu for you to explore and enjoy!”

8 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

Alomere means trusted care. Best Medical Facility:

Alexandria Clinic

Best Physical Rehab:

Heartland Orthopedics

Best Physician: Finalist:


Thank you for placing your trust in us. That’s the most valuable recognition of all.



Dr. Brian Carlsen




Dr. Dan Kryder

Thank you neighbors! These awards are evidence of our culture of accountability, compassion, excellence, hospitality, and integrity— values that are embraced by our staff and physicians.

Reader’s Choice winner: Dr. Dan Kryder

It’s better here. Alomere Health • Alexandria Clinic • Osakis Clinic • Lakes E.N.T. • Heartland Orthopedic Specialists

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 9

Best Deli and Best Meat Market Lake Country Meats

1700 North Nokomis NE, Alexandria, MN 320-759-2075 “See you on Meat Street. Good folks, makin’ good food for great people.” Offering quality and custom cuts of meat, wild game processing, smoke house meats, meat and cheese trays and its very own line of apparel, Lake Country Meats was opened in 2013.

Best Wine Selection and Best Winery Carlos Creek Winery

6693 County Road 34 NW, Alexandria, MN 320-846-5443 “We strive to be Minnesota’s most memorable craft beverage experience. You will have fun! You will be back!” Carlos Creek Winery, which opened in 1999, boasts 50 year-round employees with 75 in the summer, according to Tami Bredeson, president of Bold North Cellars, which includes not only Carlos Creek Winery, but also 22 Northmen Brewery. Besides award-winning wine, Carlos Creek Winery offers full service events, including five unique locations for hosting meetings or gatherings from small to large. “We’ve been around a while. We were the fifth winery to open in Minnesota and though there are now well over 75, we are the largest by virtue of wine production,” said

Best Bakery Roers Family Bakery

430 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-763-4741 “Being sweet to you is our business” Roers Family Bakery offers scratch-made baked goods for daily consumption and special events.

Best Buffet Pizza Ranch

1522 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-762-4010 Pizza Ranch opened in Alexandria in 2005. According to its Facebook page, the Pizza Ranch in Alexandria has dozens of “Ranch

10 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

And when so many businesses were closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company opened Meat Street Sandwich Company, according to Chandler Cole, COO/ owner of Lake Country Meats. The sandwich company is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the lunch crowd, he said. Lake Country Meats has a staff of about 18, but in the summer, that number increases to about 25. During the last year, Lake Country Meats has been adapting to all the changes that have come with COVID, said Cole. “We strive to use small and local businesses for our products like honey and BBQ sauce. But

it has certainly been a challenge these last few months,” he said. “We spent a lot of research and extra time on the phone finding suppliers who can deliver.” Cole added, however, that everyone works hard to try and keep the product on shelves for all customers. “We couldn’t ask for a better team that we get to work with each day,” Cole said. “We are very proud to call them part of the Lake Country Meats Team.”

Bredeson. “Over the years we have had the opportunity to touch the lives of many area residents, whether through employment, hosting an event, enjoying a favorite wine, attending a festival or providing a gathering spot for family and friends.” In the past year, Bredeson said they have opened an outdoor bar called Jack’s Pub and also added an on-site food truck called Sizzle. It also changed the name of its wood-fire pizza oven from Valkyries to Stoke. “From now on, our on-site dining will be known as ‘Stoke and Sizzle’ ” she said. “We also created ‘Bold North’ as a parent name for our operations. This especially helps wedding couples identify our venue to their guests not as a winery alone, but a winery and a brewery. And, we added a full-time floral designer to our staff.” She also shared a little fun fact about her staff. She said they name all the vehicles – from their golf carts, “Ole” and “Spike,” to their harvester, “Greg,” to their field truck, which has been named “The Chick Magnet.” Bredeson also shared the company’s

mission, vision and values. The mission to lead the Minnesota craft beverage industry in customer and employee experience, as well as product excellence. Their vision is what they hope to achieve – to be the Number 1 beer, wine and event experience in Minnesota. And their values, which is how they believe they will do it – be kind, be positive, be gracious, be stewards, be remarkable and own it.

“I believe we were chosen because we pride ourselves on the quality and flavor of our products, and we insist on making as much from scratch as we can,” said Quincy Roers, head baker and son of the owners. There has always been a family bakery in operation at the Roers Family Bakery location since 1886, but the Roers took over in 1995. They currently have five employees, and four are members of the Roers family, including Rory and June Roers

and their sons, Casey and Quincy. Other than a few new cleaning techniques, Quincy said they haven’t changed much this year. “Still making all the old favorites and experimenting with some new creations,” he said.

Specialty” pizza choices, hot and crispy chicken, fresh salad and soups and its famous Cactus Bread. It offers their full menu for carryout and delivery. Having a party or meeting? Pizza Ranch has a community room that seats up to 75 guests.


Grateful to be part of this Community! ABSTRACTS • TITLE INSURANCE REAL ESTATE CLOSINGS

2209 Jefferson St, Easton Place II, Alexandria • 320-763-3311

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 11

Best Breakfast and Best Lunch Travelers Inn Restaurant 511 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-763-4000

Originally opened in 1924, Travelers Inn Restaurant has been family-owned and operated since 1967 with a current staff size of 26 employees. “I think a number of things contribute to the success of Travelers Inn and it starts with our staff,” said owner and dishwasher Patrick Sieve. “We truly are like family.” According to Sieve, Travelers makes mouth-watering food that he believes helps

Best Brewery Copper Trail Brewing Company 205 Broadway Street, Alexandria, MN 320-219-6688 “Enjoy the journey!” Copper Trail Brewing Company, which opened its doors in 2016, has 19 full- and part-time employees. It is owned by Adam Grad and Dave Gibbons.

contribute to their win for best lunch and breakfast in the lakes area. “We’ve been very meticulous over all of these years. Everything is where it is for a reason but it’s not stopping us from going forward either,” he said. “Our food also comes out very quickly which, in today’s high-speed world, is important to a lot of people. Families often come in and out of here lightning-quick and their bill doesn’t break the bank.” Another reason for its success is the size of the restaurant. “We accommodate large groups from business meetings to church groups, sports teams and family reunions,” Sieve said. With the ever-changing situations involving the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant has

had to adapt quickly on its feet, but Sieve says things are truly starting to feel “back to normal.” This year, Travelers has added several new items to its menu like the avocado smash benedict, the big breakfast burrito and a chicken asada sandwich that, according to Sieve, have been wildly popular.

Copper Trail offers a wide variety of craft beers on tap and off-sale growler and crowlers in its downtown craftsman-style taproom. The brewery also offers a selection of its beers in 12- and 16-ounce cans at liquor stores throughout Minnesota, according to Samantha Graf, marketing coordinator. Some changes in the last year have been an increase in beer production, the addition of 16-ounce cans and the extending its distribution area, she said. “Plus we have also been busy planning more and bigger Copper Trail events,” said

Graf. “So stay tuned as there’s more beers and fun to come in 2022!” The brewery also recently added – and is the only place in Alexandria – offering fresh non-alcoholic beer options on top. As for being chosen as a winner in the Best of the Lakes contest, Graf said, “We would say it would be because of our dedication to our customers and our keeping community first.”

Thanks to everyone who voted us the Best Pharmacy! Best Catering Raaper’s Eatery and Ale Catering Alexandria 320-760-6619

Raaper’s Eatery and Ale has piled up accolades in the yearand-a-half since it had to remake itself literally from the ashes. Its restaurant was among several businesses destroyed in the 2020 downtown Alexandria fire, and it remade itself as a catering company that provides food for weddings, corporate events and many special occasions. “We’ve been around since August 1996!” Raaper’s says. “Great memories, great times, and many more to come. Thanks to everyone who’s made Rapper’s

12 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

the place it is today!” Raaper’s is owned by Andy and Cammie Rassat. Andy said they continually strive to always do their best for their customers, and they are honored to be chosen as Alexandria’s No. 1 caterer again. After opening in 1996, Raaper’s added its catering business in 2008. Their business slogan is, “Raaper’s/The Catering Company – you are only limited to your imagination.” Its full-service catering company customizes each event. They serve anything from boxed lunches to extensive grazing tables, butler passed appetizers, buffet service, late night chef-assisted munchies and even a food truck. They also offer on-site grilling and chef-assisted buffets.

We love what we do, thanks to our amazing customers!

Your Hometown Pharmacy

Alexandria I Parkers Prairie I Elbow Lake I Glenwood

Hello Neighbor!

Best Coffee Shop Caribou Coffee

307 N Nokomis St Suite 113, Alexandria 320-763-8090 4911 MN-29 Suite 101, Alexandria 320-762-8589 Caribou Coffee has two locations in Alexandria. The company’s story from their Facebook page: At Caribou Coffee, we believe this to be true: that if passion, hard work and excellence go into an endeavor, the outcome will be a quality experience, and therefore rewarding. In 1990, during an adventure through the Alaskan wilderness, our founders journeyed to the top of Sable Mountain. After a strenuous climb, they reached the summit and were rewarded with a sensational view: the

Best Dessert Tip Top Dairy Bar

22 West Nokomis Street, Osakis, MN 320-859-2217 “To provide our customers good quality food items at fair pieces in a pleasant family-friendly atmosphere.” The Tip Top Dairy Bar, with its 22 seasonal employees, opened its doors in 1955. In 2018, it was purchased by Brad and Kristie Kirckof. The restaurant, which opens in the spring and closes late fall, offers many different ice cream treats, along with a full food menu including hamburgers, sandwiches, chicken, shrimp, curds, French fries and much more. Kristie Kirckof believes Tip Top was chosen as a favorite in the lakes area because their staff truly enjoys what they do. “Our goal is to provide a fun

boundless mountains, a clear blue sky, and a herd of caribou thundering through the valley. That was truly the “aha” moment. The breathtaking panoramic view became the entrepreneurial vision for Caribou Coffee – a company that believes excellence is a product of hard work, and that life is too short for anything else. This vision serves as a guide as we strive to create a special experience for you here at Caribou Coffee. Now, we invite you as our guest along this path. Enjoy a moment, or several, filled with the highest-quality coffee and our unparalleled service.

environment for staff and customers,” she said. “And this shows in the interaction with each order taken. If you enjoy what you do, time is taken to assure quality of product and friendly service.” Kirckof also said that Tip Top has had a long history of providing fast, friendly and highquality food at reasonable prices and she thinks that is recognized during a tough economic time for food establishments. The Kirckofs have tried not to make too many changes, but over the last year, they have increased the size of their fryer and added a couple new ice cream machines to accommodate growth and keep things moving efficiently to minimize customer wait times. “We also provide our staff with a free meal and free ice cream during every shift,” she said. “It’s fun to visit with fourth and fifth generation families as they talk about what Tip Top was like many years ago. And we have seen people from all over the United States and beyond stop in.”

A sincere Thank You to all of you who were kind enough to cast your votes for our team, and voting us #1 Insurance Agency in the Lakes Area for the 3rd Year in a row! We are truly Honored!


320-762-2395 • Directly across from Goodwill • Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 13

Best Ethnic Food Great Hunan

2919 Highway 29 S. Alexandria 320-763-6288 Great Hunan is dedicated to offering the most memorable dining experience for its customers. According to its website, the staff at the Chinese restaurant

picks ingredients carefully and uses only the freshest ones to prepare every dish. The owner and staff will greet you with the warmest welcome, whether you are a returning customer or a newcomer. They make every effort to create a tidy and clean dining place and guarantee friendly and timely service.

Best Fast Food Culver’s

610 50th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-2266 “We genuinely care, so that every guest that chooses Culver’s leaves happy.” Once again, Culver’s was named Best Fast Food Restaurant, which makes new owner John Loomis happy. Loomis bought the restaurant in February this year, and as all Culver’s restaurants are locally owned and operated, he moved his wife Stacia and their five kids under age 7 -- Simon, Sean, Owen, Rosie, and Lyle -- to Osakis. He said he is grateful to the community for welcoming them, and that they can’t wait to

get more involved locally. Culver’s opened in February 2003, and its 45 employees serve Butterburgers and custard with a smile, he said. As to why it was voted the best, Loomis credited those employees. “There are some awesome places to eat in Alex, and I think where we shine is not only in our great food, but also in our hospitality,” he said. “Our team members do a fantastic job consistently delivering great hospitality. I am proud of them.” During COVID, many businesses have been struggling for team members, and Loomis said that he tries to make sure employees get an amazing work atmosphere and awesome pay. Culver’s dining room and drive-thru provide fresh, quality food in a clean and familyfriendly environment.




#1 TIRE STORE! We would also like to thank our amazing staff at Tiremaxx for the wonderful work they do.

Get Your Shine On! Thank you for your business! Tyler, Lori, Chris 1223 Broadway Street, Alexandria, MN • 320-763-5473 Hours: Office: Monday-Saturday 6am-9pm • Sunday 7am-8pm Carwash: Monday-Saturday 7am-8pm • Sunday 8am to 6pm 14 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021


(320) 763-4111


Best Food Truck Flavor Shack

13610 194th St., Osakis 320-815-9425 The Flavor Shack food truck has been providing food for corporate lunches, employees, graduations, weddings and the general public since April of 2020. Owned by Connie Levin, Flavor Shack is a family-run business that offers a wide variety of food, including specialty burgers, 21 flavors of egg rolls, shrimp nachos, pulled pork and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and other items most food trucks don’t have. Some of the flavors of egg rolls include strawberry cheesecake, philly cheese steak, crab rangoon and parmesan garlic chicken.

Best Pizza Zorbaz

2710 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-219-7813 “Pleaze Eat Responsibly” Zorbaz was founded in 1969 and has 11 locations in the state of Minnesota, its Alexandria shop being opened in 2013.

“I take a lot of pride in the food I am serving to people,” Levin said. “Most of our food is homemade and takes time to prepare. When putting the time in to make the homemade food you always get a better quality product that tastes amazing. We have a huge menu so I feel that we really have something for everyone.“ Levin noted that because the business is family owned, they take pride in treating their customers as if they were part of their family by being polite and courteous. “I could not run this business without the support of our customers and my family,” she said. “I love that my husband, Brian, and my boys can work with me and we can still spend time together, and make a living.” Another product sold by Flavor Shack is Grandpa Bean’s BBQ Sauce, which was

a company started by her father-in-law. She took over the business when she started the Flavor Shack, and now sells the barbecue sauce in the trailer, as well as using it in her recipes and selling it to local restaurants. “We continue to come up with new recipes and options for people to fall in love with,” she added. “My recipes are original and I have come up with them all on my own. I love cooking and love coming up with new recipes and seeing people enjoying what they are eating.”

Zorbaz is busy year-round, with 25 employees in the winter and 75 at its peak in the summer. Owner Kevin Hanson said the key to Zorbaz’ success may be its homemade dough. According to the business’ website, the restaurant was named after the movie, “Zorba the Greek,” starring Anthony Quinn. “Many call us a restaurant but that’s not exactly how we see ourselves,” the website says, albeit with Z’s instead of S’s. “We are a great times Mexican and Pizza Joint. We

have the best staff in the midwest and we are self-service with a smile. We have the lakes area’s best beer selection, our pizza dough is homemade and our salsa is fresh daily.”



Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 15

Best Ribs or BBQ The Corral Eatery and Saloon 117 Nelson St. N., Nelson 320-762-2416

“Great place to meet, eat and drink” The Corral Eatery and Saloon has been in existence since the 1960s, according to owner Sue Hawkinson. Hawkinson and her partner, Mark Scheller, are the seventh owners of the restaurant, she believes. They purchased it on Oct. 1, 2013 and have 27 employees.

Best Sandwich Shop La Ferme

613 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-846-0777 La Ferme, a “farm to fork” restaurant in downtown Alexandria, is owned by Chef Matthew Jensen. The name, La Ferme, is French for farmhouse, according to the restaurant’s website. La Ferme focuses on fresh local, seasonal

Best Steak Interlachen Inn

4960 County Road 42 NE, Alexandria 320-846-1051 “The Best Little Bar & Restaurant in the Lakes Area” The Interlachen Inn has gone through several variations in its long history. It originally opened in 1941, but the original building burned down in 1967, reopening the next year. The current restaurant has been around

The BBQ sauce recipe used by the restaurant has been passed down from owner to owner. “The sauce is a tradition at the Corral Saloon and Eatery,” she said. The Corral is more than just a full-service restaurant and bar as it also offers catering and is a great place to host events in the Corral Event Room, according to Hawkinson. “Customer service and quality are our number-one priority!” she said. In a normal year, Hawkinson said, the restaurant goes through about 4,500 eggs and about 4,000 pounds of potatoes to make potato salad, which is used in the salad bar, as well as for celebrations, events and

at-home entertaining. “We have always taken pride in maintaining a clean and sanitized environment,” said Hawkinson. “We have put forth every effort to accommodate everyone in whatever possible way we can to minimize the risk and make people feel safe and comfortable at the Corral Saloon and Eatery.”

ingredients from farmers and producers in the Alexandria area. It is open for lunch and dinner with a selection of beer and wine. Customers can dine in the rustic “farm themed” main dining room, semi-private dining rooms or out on the front or back patios, weather permitting. According to the website, the menu is small but ever changing and a favorite activity is creating new dishes out of fresh produce. Waste is taken very seriously and all leftover food gets composted, all to-go items are

compostable and they keep a minimalist kitchen, keeping items on hand for what can be used and is needed. The owner and staff at La Ferme wants customers to “eat, enjoy and experience the difference.”

since 2005, during which time it has offered appetizers, sandwiches, salads, salmon and walleye, pasta, and of course, steak, for which it was named Best of the Lakes Area. “We take pride in cutting our steaks to order and slow (cooking) our prime rib to perfection,” said owner/operator Gayle Haanen. The restaurant is also known for its martinis, Manhattans and old-fashioned cocktails. Although its core menu has remained the same, in the past year prime rib became available each night, Monday through Saturday. The Interlachen Inn’s long history is on display on its walls, as well as that of the

lakes area in general. “There are a lot of stories that have been told from the past and pictures from the past inside,” Haanen said.

Best Landscape or Irrigation and Best Florist or Greenhouse Colorful Seasons Garden Center 3400 Dakota St., Alexandria 320-762-1548 | 1-888-762-1548

“We’ve got a good thing growing.” Celebrating 32 years in business, Colorful Seasons Garden Center offers a variety of services, including a complete garden center, greenhouse, nursery, landscape design, landscape and irrigation installation as well as home, garden and Christmas decor. They grow and provide annuals, vegetables, herbs, house plants, poinsettias, perennials, fruit trees, shrubs and shade trees.

16 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

Why was Colorful Seasons voted Best Landscape/Irrigation and Best Florist/Greenhouse? “I think as Minnesotans we love to whole heartily embrace the change of seasons!” said Owner Lynelle Brickweg. “Here we work hard year round to provide the best quality of plants, products and services that allow people to savor and get the most out of each season.” Depending on the time of year or what season it is, Colorful Seasons employs between 10-20 people. Over the past year, consumer interest in growing has risen, Brickweg said, and so Colorful Seasons has increased its selection

and variety of houseplants this past year. A fun fact is that Colorful Seasons is not seasonal; it operates year-round. In September, they order for the coming spring. In July, they plant Christmas poinsettias. As early as January, they order for the upcoming Christmas show room. In February, they start transplanting and growing 260,000 annuals, vegetables and herbs.

Best Fitness Center and Best Small Company to Work For (under 50 empl) Noonan Sport Specialists 503 Hawthorne Street, Suite 145, Alexandria, MN | 320-808-9632

“The #NSSfamily uses fitness as a catalyst to positively impact lives.” Noonan Sport Specialists was opened in 2007. It currently has nine employees

Best Golf Course Geneva Golf Club

4181 Geneva Golf Club Drive, Alexandria 320-762-7089 “Always open to the public.” There’s a multitude of reasons why Geneva Golf Club was voted the Best Golf Course in the Alexandria Lakes Area. Grant Hanson, director of golf, for the course, put it this way: “Our golf course is in phenomenal shape, our staff is second to none and with 27 holes, we have something

Best Live Music or Performance Venue Andria Theatre

618 Broadway Street, Alexandria, MN 320-762-8300 “Andria Theatre will enrich people’s lives while providing unique performance and educational opportunities.” Andria Theatre, the area’s community theater, began in 1967. There are three fulltime employees and two part-time employees.

Best Local Community Event Art in the Park

City Park, Alexandria 320-762-8300 For two years, Art in the Park has been canceled because of the pandemic – and still Alexandria voted it Best Local Community Event. “It’s a wonderful community event,” said David Cristman, artistic director for the Andria Theatre, which organizes the event as one of its biggest fundraisers. “There’ve been times it’s been so busy we’ve turned over the parking lot out there nine times before noon.

and is co-owned by Mike Hawes and Dustin Schlichting, who actually met on day one of college orientation at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. “Our main service is semi-private personal training,” said Hawes. “But we also offer youth athlete enhancement and nutrition coaching.” In the last year, Hawes said Noonan’s has been constantly adapting to “COVID times,”

and was able to hire on two new coaches. “We have great support from very loyal and long-term clients,” Hawes responded when asked why he thought Noonan Sport Specialists was chosen as “the best” in the lakes area.

for everyone.” Hanson added that Geneva’s leagues help people of all abilities enjoy the game of golf and meet new people. “An example of this is our Monday night two-person league,” Hanson said. “We had over 100 people in it every week and 60 of them were couples of all ages.” Geneva also hosts many charity events, serious golf tournaments and corporate outings. Along with a full restaurant, the club offers golf memberships, punch cards, league play, stay and play options with onsite lodging and the Scott Dirck Golf Academy.

The golf course has had many improvements over the past year – cart paths, landscaping, trees and staff upgrades. A fun fact about Geneva Golf Club is that it also has three golf courses in Arizona. “This gives our patrons a chance to go down and enjoy golf even in the off season,” Hanson said. “Our employees are also able to transition down there for the winter months if they are interested in it.”

According to Executive Director Ann Hermes, Andria Theatre has been a springboard of opportunities for hundreds of cast and crew members and thousands of patrons. The organization has grown exponentially in the last 10 years, she said, which now includes a healthy student theater component and eight shows running year-round. Hermes said the mission of the theater says it all in that it provides performance and educational opportunities on stage and off. She added that in the last year, the theater went from performing to 25% capacity to now being at 100% capacity seating. She hopes to remain at that level as their fiscal

year progresses. “This is a second home to all those youth who perhaps don’t play a sport or instrument. Adults as well, who join in a production on stage or behind the scenes find a new family of friends,” Hermes said. “One young boy who was getting picked up by his mom from our summer youth program proudly said to her, ‘See Mom. Now I have friends. Now I belong.’ We love filling that niche for those who call Andria Theatre home.”

It’s a constant flow of people.” The annual fundraiser for the Andria Theatre has been around for more than 40 years, bringing tens of thousands of visitors each July to its location at City Park in Alexandria. It’s a showcase for local and regional artists and crafters, a juried show that ensures high-quality vendors. Organizers make sure that a wide variety of art and crafts are available, as well as a wide variety of food vendors. Art in the Park lasts two days, entertainers perform on two separate stages. At its peak, it drew 173 vendors, but now there are about 130 or 140, which helps spread things out, Christman said. A fun fact about Art in the Park is that only three staff members coordinate an event that draws up to 25,000 over those two

days, Christman said -- aided, of course, by many volunteers, including members of the theater’s Student Theatre Project and their parents. Because organizers have to plan for it so many months ahead of time, it was canceled in both 2020 and 2021. However, Christman said the plan is to bring it back in 2022. Before the pandemic, they started to charge for parking, which helps fund the theater, and that will continue in 2022, he said. “People are really excited about getting out again and doing the things they’re used to doing,” he said. “I think it will be a record summer.” Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 17

Best Place for Summer Family Fun Casey’s Amusement Park 1305 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-763-7576 “To create a safe and enjoyable environment that would provide amusement for all generations.” Todd and Kathy Elmer purchased Casey’s

Best Place for Winter Family Fun Andes Tower Hills

4505 Andes Road SW, Kensington 320-965-2455 Andes Tower Hill, a ski hill that has served more than a million skiers since the Anderson brothers opened it in 1981, was again chosen as the best place for winter family fun in the Best of the Lakes Area contest. “We’re appreciative of all the votes,” said General Manager Tom Anderson. “In the

Amusement Park in 1998, but they believe it was established in the early 1980s. The amusement park, which boasts about 40 seasonal employees, offers four Go Kart tracks, 36 holes of mini golf, bumper boats, and kiddie karts, along with refreshments and snacks. “We would like to thank all of our customers for visiting Casey’s the past years,” said Todd Elmer. “We truly appreciate your business.” Elmer believes they were chosen as the best because they can offer great family entertainment for all ages in a peaceful,

friendly and clean atmosphere. In fact, he said, they have had a 99-year-old mini golfer and a 94-year-old Go Kart driver, so it is truly for all ages.

wintertime, people like to get outside. Sliding down a hill is really high on the fun list, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, tubing or cross country skiing.” He added that the goal of the staff at Andes is to have people feel better about themselves after enjoying time on the slopes and trails. Andes offers a cafeteria, a pro shop and rentals. Recent improvements include adding 2,000 square feet to the main chalet lodge, adding a warming house for the tubing hill, upgrading the slope on the rope tow in the terrain park area, making a 45 site campground on premise and getting new rental skis.

One out of three customers travels from the Dakotas, and everyone is greeted by friendly staff – as many as 85 people work there. A fun fact: Every season, Andes Tower Hills pumps approximately 25 million gallons of water to make snow.

Best Wedding or Party Venue


Gathered Oaks

4550 County Road 34 NW, Alexandria | 218-979-2101 A wedding and event center nestled in the heart of lakes country in Alexandria, Gathered Oaks is rounding out its fifth season of weddings and events. With a staff of 25, it offers a beautiful and well-kept facility for medium- to large-scale events, alongside a renovated farmhouse and repurposed grain bin lodging for a unique place to stay while exploring all that Alexandria has to offer. Gathered Oaks is owned and operated by a married couple – Anne and David Larson – and managed by their son and daughter-in-law, Andrew, who is the event and property manager, and Tessa, the marketing and venue manager. Tessa said she thinks they were voted Best Wedding or Party Venue because they have become so connected to the community. “We continue to host a lot of events throughout the calendar

18 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

year, and so we feel like we’ve gotten to invite most residents of Alexandria now out to Gathered for an event or an evening of celebration of some kind,” she said. “We hope their experiences and time here are always wonderful, and we thank you everyone for thinking of us in this way!” Gathered Oaks mostly hosts weddings, but welcomes groups for holiday or other corporate gatherings, company meetings, and retreats or team-building in their farmhouse and grain bins. They also serve as the venue for community events such as Rooted in the fall and Carols and Cocktails at Christmas. “Year 2020 brought challenges for us as it did for so many,” Tessa said, “but we continued to take on projects to improve and enhance the property, along with focusing on how lucky we are to have such incredible and faithful staff working with us to make magic happen on the weekends.”

505 22nd Ave E Suite 9 Silbernick Alexandria, MN 56308 • 320-762-9749 Accounting, Inc.

505 22nd Ave E Suite 9 Alexandria, MN 56308



Health | Fitness

Best Chiropractic Office Godfrey Chiropractic 119 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-762-8185

“We strive to help people in our community get back to their best!” Godfrey Chiropractic has been helping people get back to their best for 44 years. They do things a little differently than traditional chiropractic care, which helped them to be selected as the Best Chiropractic Office in the Alexandria Lakes Area.

“We have a three-step system in place where we teach you how to retrain your muscles and stabilize your body so you get faster results and require less care,” said Megan Johnson, office manager. Established in 1977, Godfrey Chiropractic currently has five employees – three doctors, an office manager and an office administrator. It offers chiropractic adjustments and DOT physicals. When asked if the business has made any significant changes in the past year, Johnson said, “We strive to excel every day!” Something readers may not know about the office: Dr. Marc Godfrey started Godfrey

Chiropractic just months before having kids. Now that his two sons are grown and both are chiropractors themselves, this family business will be here for many years to come.

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 19

Best Assisted Living Facility and Best Senior Living (55+) and Best Senior Care Center Knute Nelson Care Center and Grand Arbor by Knute Nelson 4403 Pioneer Rd. SE., Alexandria 320-763-1600

“Enrich the lives of everyone we serve.” Founded in 1948, Knute Nelson is focused on developing innovative programs and services that enhance the quality of life for adults. Knute Nelson is a non-profit, Christian-based organization that combines an extraordinary legacy with an innovative presence in adult services. Grand Arbor opened in the fall of 2011 and expanded in 2016 to offer a total of 244 apartments. Knute Nelson employs more than 800 employees throughout their continuum, and of that 800, Grand Arbor employs 160 and the Care Center employs 130. “At Knute Nelson, we offer a full family of aging services so you can receive the same quality of care from a team you trust through every step of your journey,” said Mark Anderson, president and CEO of Knute Nelson. He added that their continuum of care is specifically designed to accommodate

all stages of life, no matter what the situation may be. “We offer options in wellness and active aging, you can keep your independence and have less chores to do our in our senior living or you can stay in the comfort of your home and have skilled nursing, therapy or simply personalized care services like laundry, housekeeping or errands provided for you right in your home,” said Anderson. “Whatever your needs, we will help you find the best solution.” Not sure where to start? Anderson said to trust the aging care experts at Knute Nelson to help you navigate your health care options and find the care level that’s best to meet your unique needs. The care coordination team at Knute Nelson specializes in aging service offerings and are here to help you navigate your health care options. “Our vision is ‘to provide innovative solutions that empower individuals to thrive.’ This vision helps propel us to be responsive to

the needs of the communities where we serve,” Anderson said. “We strive to keep a steady pulse on programs and services that can enhance a client or residents’ life in meaningful ways – from wellness and home care to short-term rehabilitation and hospice. We continue to evolve the many ways we are responding to – and leading – the paradigm of health care transformation throughout our 38 counties of service in West Central Minnesota and North Dakota. It is a privilege to serve people where they choose to receive services.” Anderson also said that the Knute Nelson Board of Directors helps guide in exemplary ways as they carry out their strategic focus and steward their mission. Knute Nelson also recognizes the many generous donors and volunteers who truly embrace philanthropy, which is the desire to benefit humanity. “As a nonprofit, we rely on this support. We are humbled by your support and are deeply grateful,” he said.

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We will continue to work hard for your business and look forward to serving you for years to come!

“People you know, products you trust” Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 21

Best Dental Office Dentistry at the Center

2306 S. Broadway St., Suite 4, Alexandria 320-762-5216 “Where compassion and excellent dental care meet.” Dentistry at the Center has been serving the lakes area since 1985. The business provides all aspects of family and cosmetic dental care, from preventative care to dental implants. Dr. Tyler Whiting, an Alexandria native, joined Dentistry at the Center two summers ago after serving in the Air Force for five years as a dentist. Dentistry at the Center has a total of 20 employees, which includes three doctors,

Best Eye Clinic Eye Associates of Alexandria 1610 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-763-4321 “We are the Eye Guyz!” Although the business’ slogan refers to male “eye guyz,” the male to-female staff ratio at Eye Associates of Alexandria is 18 to 2.

five hygienists, six assistants and six business assistants. Many of the staff have worked there for over 20 years and some for over 30. Its current staff has a combined total of 280 years at Dentistry at the Center. “We have an amazing staff that treats each other and our patients like family,” Whiting said. “They are energetic and like to have fun while at work. Also, we are uncompromising when it comes to treating our patients with excellent dental care and with the latest technology in the dental industry.” Dentistry at the Center provides comprehensive and preventative care, which includes Invisalign, digital impressions, guided implant surgery, pediatric dental care, cosmetic dentistry, extractions, dentures/partials, sleep appliances and 3D x-rays. The business has also recently invested in the latest technology

in same-day crowns and laser dentistry. Dentistry at the Center follows pandemic guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Dental Board. Whiting said staff members have gone above and beyond the recommendations to keep employees and patients safe. “We strive to treat our patients with compassion and excellence in dental care,” he said. “We take extra time to explain procedures and care for our patients’ unique dental needs.”

The business has been around since the 1940s, and current owners Dr. John Hoven and Dr. Jeremy Anderson took over in 2001. The clinic has 20 employees and offers eye care for all ages, management of medical and surgical cases, contact fitting and an optical boutique. “Our professional staff sincerely cares about people and their eye health by creating a warm environment, utilizing the latest technology and techniques, to maximize the patient

experience,” said owners Hoven and Anderson. “We feel it is our deep concern of the patient experience at our office and our outstanding customer service that elevates our office to this award.”










A Clean You Can Feel

Rantasha Services

Proud partners of Cleaning For A Reason

320-761-5257 | 22 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021


Best Hearing Center Legacy Hearing Centers

220 22nd Ave. E. Suite 107, Alexandria 320-219-7744 “Connecting Generations with Conversations” In the past few months, Legacy Hearing Centers acquired a new facility that allows better access for patients, handicap accessibility and restrooms without keys. “We love our new location and look forward

Best Pharmacy Trumm Drug

600 Fillmore St., Alexandria 320-763-3111 If you see Trumm Drug employees wearing blue jeans on Fridays, it’s because they paid $1 for the privilege. At the end of the year, they donate all those dollars to a local cause. It’s those employees, said pharmacist and co-owner Aaron Finley, that caused Trumm Drug to be chosen once again as the Best Pharmacy in the lakes area. “We have a good group of employees

to many years of service to our patients,” said owner Gina Christopherson. Legacy Hearing Centers opened in 2019 and currently has three employees. The business offers hearing testing, hearing aid sales, hearing aid service and hearing aid repair. Christopherson said she thinks this is why it was voted Best of the Lakes Area: “Our desire to help patients achieve better living through better hearing has allowed us to really focus on providing fantastic customer service. Our patients enjoy hearing their families and friends with great clarity and crispness.” One fun fact about the business is that this

past summer it “pulled together” a sand volleyball team, Christopherson said. “We weren’t great, but we had fun,” she said.

that are doing their best to take care of the community. People appreciate being cared for and about,” Finley said. “Our focus is going above and beyond dispensing medications to a focus on overall health.” Trumm Drug started in 1951, and its mission is to partner with patients to provide exceptional education, training, and products to achieve the best possible outcomes from their healthcare decisions. As a full-service pharmacy, it provides medication adherence and packaging, medication therapy management, medication synchronization, immunizations, biometric screening, Medicare open enrollment services, home delivery and a gift shop.

The business is part of the national Good Neighbor Pharmacy franchise. Trumm Drug received the Business and Industrial Appreciation Day (BIAD) award in 2015 and was nationally recognized as Health Mart Pharmacy of the year in 2019.

We Appreciate You. T hank You! 405 50th Avenue West, Alexandria, MN 56308 320-262-3313 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 23

Best Physician and Best Medical Facility Alexandria Clinic and Dr. Dan Kryder

610 30th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-5123 “Our passion and purpose is to strengthen and nurture the health and well-being of our family, friends, neighbors, and communities, through every season of life.” With more than 50 providers, Alexandria Clinic, along with its partners – Heartland Orthopedic Specialists and Alomere Health – have built one of the state’s largest integrated community health care networks.

The team is dedicated to providing the best in preventive, interventional and supportive care services in the most compassionate, thoughtful and efficient manner. Opening in 1946, Alexandria Clinic offers a full range of medical coverage, with express care, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, midwifery, internal medicine, general and thoracic surgery, urology, ear, nose and throat, pediatrics, and podiatry as well as a variety of outreach services. The clinic also has on-site CT, digital mammography, general x-ray and a full-time laboratory.

Best Physical Rehabilitation Facility Heartland Orthopedic Services 111 17th Ave. E., Suite 101, Alexandria 320-298-4875

“Our passion and purpose is to strengthen and nurture the health and well-being of our family, friends, neighbors, and communities, through every season of life.” Opening in 1974, Heartland Orthopedic Services, a service of Alomere Health, provide treatment for orthopedic injuries and conditions affecting the ankle, back, elbow, foot, hand, hip, knee, neck, shoulder, spine, and wrist as well as joint replacement, podiatry, sports medicine, and therapeutic neuromuscular care. “Our world-class team of orthopedic experts is devoted to providing customized treatment

plans focused on our patients needs and goals,” said Eddie Reif, director of community relations and development. The 17 providers and more than 75 employees at Heartland have been the trusted orthopedic experts in Alexandria, Willmar, Morris, Graceville, Wadena, Fergus Falls, and the surrounding areas, for many years, said Reif. “We are the proud orthopedic team doctors for several local high schools and colleges, and our goal is to return each and every one of our patients back to their active lifestyles quickly and safely,” he said. “We feel the most sincere gratitude for the confidence our patients have placed in us. It is our pleasure to serve our community with all of their rehabilitation needs and look forward to continuing to do so for generations to come.” Reif also noted that Heartland Orthopedic Specialists and Alomere Health received the

Currently, there are 52 providers and more than 230 employees, and patients from more than 200 zip codes are served through the facilities each year. Dr. Dan Kryder, who was named Best of the Lakes Area Physician, said he was “very humbled” to have received the award. “I would like to thank all of the staff at Alomere Health for their dedication to the health and well-being of the patients we serve,” said Kryder. “And I would like to thank everyone who voted for us and for the trust they have put into our health care community.”

Five-Star Distinction in Spinal Fusion Surgery in 2021 from Healthgrades. And he said they are continually reviewing the needs of the community and making reinvestments where necessary, such as adding staff, increasing services and expanding facilities.

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320-834-2532 24 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021




Best Auctioneer Hanson Auctioneer

13209 State Hwy. 27., Hoffman 320-760-5485 “We have always stood by this statement: The most important auction is yours!” Professionalism, honesty and humor are why Natalie Hanson, co-owner of Hanson Auctioneer and spouse to the voice of the sales, Jerome Hanson, believes their business won the Best Auctioneer in the lakes area. “These personal qualities come naturally

to Jerome and make each participant feel important at the auction,” said Natalie. “As an auction service, we try to offer the best experience for the buyer and seller. After all, we are selling pieces of someone’s life.” Since 1991, Hanson Auctioneer has been a full-service auction company that handles all aspects of the auction, from booking to settling. Natalie and Jerome run the auction service with the help of seven part-time employees and several other individuals who lend a hand as needed. A fun fact about Hanson Auctioneer is their twice-a-year farm equipment consignment

sale on their auction lot just west of Hoffman. Before the auction, Jerome picks out a unique object that someone brought to sell and has participants write down their guess of the selling price and toss five dollars into a coffee can. Whoever came closest to guessing the selling price wins the cash. “It’s not about the cash; it’s about the unique item that they get to talk about,” said Natalie.

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123 3rd Ave. E., Alexandria | 320-762-8171 Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 25

Best Accountant Jensen PA

220 22nd Ave E., Suite 101, Alexandria 320-762-1256 “Helping you keep more of what you earn.” With five full-time employees, including owners and one seasonal – generating a combined 63 years of experience – Jensen

Best Auto Repair Becker Auto Repair

1811 S Nokomis St., Suite B, Alexandria 320-762-8060 “We treat your car like our car.” Becker Auto Repair has been servicing vehicles since 1988. Todd Blankenship owns

PA has provided its clients with individual, business, non-profit, estate and trust tax returns, as well as payroll, bookkeeping, QuickBooks assistance and consulting since 2010. Donna Jensen, president and treasurer, and Anne Ayres, vice president and secretary, believe they won the Best Accountant for their services. They provide flexibility to accommodate schedules while striving to do their best for their clients and believe that

and operates the shop and has seven employees to help with auto repairs. “We do everything from brakes and tune-ups to major engine repairs and transmission replacements,” said Blankenship. Blankenship is hopeful their win for Best Auto Repair in the lakes area is due to their relationship and trust his team builds with their customers.

Best Bank or Credit Union and Best Large Company to Work For (50+empl) and Best Customer Service and Best Mortgage Lender Glenwood State Bank

Glenwood branch: 5 E. Minnesota Ave, Glenwood 320-634-5111 Alexandria branch: 2221 S. Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-0200 Villard branch: 440 Washington Ave., PO Box 143, Villard 320-554-3021 “Our purpose is to be the premier community bank, positively impacting our customers, employees, and communities through Christian principles.”

Best Car Wash Woody’s Car Wash

1223 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-763-5473 “Get your shine on.” Chris “Woody” Wittkamp started his locallyowned and operated car wash service in 2016 and today has 19 employees to help his customers “get their shine on.” Wittkamp says his business and customers are like family. “We take the time to talk with our customers and get to know them. It is very

26 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

clients are people, not numbers. A fun fact about Jensen PA is their big candy dish that provides their clients with a sweet treat when they come in.

Glenwood State Bank said winning four Best of the Alexandria Lakes Area awards – Best Customer Service, Best Large Company to Work For (50-plus employees), Best Bank and Best Mortgage Lender – was truly an honor. “We strive to have a positive impact on our customers, employees, and communities through everything we do,” said Chelsey Genszler, social media and marketing specialist. “We’re in the people business and we value putting people before profits.” The Glenwood branch opened in 1907, Villard Branch opened in 1980, and the Alexandria Branch opened in 2008. All five of the banks, which includes the three Glenwood State Bank locations, along with Lowry State Bank and First National Bank of Osakis, have a combined workforce

of 102 employees. The banks offer personal, business, and agricultural checking, savings, and loans. “We also offer CDs, HSAs, IRAs, credit cards, mortgages, treasury management for businesses, and multiple online tools such as Zelle, MoneyManager, Bill Pay, online and mobile banking, Mobile Wallet, and more,” said Genszler. The Alexandria branch recently completed a “Think Tank” creative, community space. “Our intent is to eventually allow community groups to utilize the relaxed space. It can comfortably hold 25 people and has fun, cozy chairs, a mini kitchen, and multiple tables,” Genszler said. Glenwood State Bank was one of five recipients of the 2021 Minnesota Family Business Award.

rewarding,” he said. Wittkamp believes his business was selected for Best Car Wash in the lakes area for the quality of the service. “We take pride in what we do to deliver the best wash while supporting the community. We’re hands-on here, as we hand prep and even hand dry your vehicle. We believe in quality over quantity,” said Wittkamp. Woody’s Car Wash offers hand preparation and drying, will check the customer’s oil and wash their windows – if they prefer – and with six self-service wash bays, customers can take matters into their own hands. “We also have two full-serve gas pumps so you can stay in the comfort of your vehicle

while we fill your gas,” said Wittkamp. “We even clean boat lift canopies.” Wittkamp said he is currently working on some future changes that he can’t divulge, but will greatly impact the business. “It is fulfilling watching the cars exit the wash and knowing we made a difference,” he said.

Best Barber Shop 100% Advisory

2715 Hwy 29 S., Suite 107, Alexandria 320-766-4300 “A cool laid back place where guys can chill and have fun while waiting for a haircut” Jesse Trujillo, owner of 100% Advisory, opened for business in 2021.

Best Child Care Facility Alexandria Area YMCA

10 Karl Drive, Alexandria YMCA Child Care at Knute Nelson 420 12th Ave E., Alexandria 320-834-9622 “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” The Alexandria Area YMCA’s child care serves more than 175 children at two locations daily. Parents like what the Y is doing, voting it the Best Child Care Facility in the Alexandria Lakes Area. “You want the very best for your child and so do we,” said Jackie Peters, CEO. “YMCA

“I love what I do and I think people really like my work and the positive environment I’m creating at my shop,” commented Trujillo on why he believes his shop was chosen as the best barbershop in the lakes area. “I have only been here five months.” Trujillo says he has the most unique shop in town while providing his customers with quality haircuts and beard trims.

Child Care is a place for children to explore, learn, and grow in an environment where they will feel safe, cared for, and celebrated.” The local YMCA, which opened in 2010, has 130 employees. “Our focus is on maximizing play and intricating learning experiences into daily routines through art, outdoor time, stories and reading, music and sensory activities, and creative movement,” Peters said. The Y offers pre-school and child care allin-one, large classrooms and learning spaces, large fenced-in outdoor play areas, kindergym and gym activities, fitness instructor led classes, music class, field trips and special events, intergenerational interaction at Knute Nelson Child Care, open swimming and builtin time for scheduled swimming lessons. Last month, both of the Y’s locations earned Four-Star Parent Aware Ratings.

“YMCA child care has reached the highest standards of excellence in early childhood education,” said Tracy Gustafson, YMCA child care director. Programs participating in Parent Aware have access to benefits that can support work with children and families like coaching and assistance, training and career advising, grants to support training, curricula, toys, equipment and technology, early learning scholarships, higher child care assistance program rates (CCAP), marketing kits and promotion.

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 27

Best Cleaning Service Rantasha Services

324 Broadway St. Alexandria 320-761-5257 “A clean you can feel.” It has been a time of tremendous growth for Rantasha Services, a three-year-old cleaning business that opened in Alexandria in 2018. They clean homes and small commercial locations, and demand for their services led them to hire employees sooner than they intended. They hired their first one earlier this year, said Angela Rantasha, who owns the business alongside her husband Mark.

Best Funeral Home Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory

659 Voyager Drive, Alexandria 320-763-5900 “Honoring Lives in the Alexandria area for 150 years.” Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory can trace its roots in the Alexandria community back to 1872. It has grown to include seven

“The pandemic hit and we thought we’d be out of business,” she said. “After the shutdown order was over, we went back into business and I tell you, things just exploded from there.” Clients started thinking of cleaning as a necessity more than a luxury, and just this year they jumped from one employee and 20 clients to seven employees and more than 80 clients. The couple believes in paying their employees a living wage, so cleaners start out at $16 an hour and they can earn up to $30 an hour including bonuses and tips. Rantasha Services are a part of Cleaning for a Reason, a free cleaning service for cancer patients. People with cancer can call their number to find out if they qualify for the help.

funeral directors and 25 support staff who work at the funeral home’s two locations in Alexandria. Why were they chosen as the best in the Alexandria lakes area? “I believe the families we have served over the years are appreciative of the care they have received from Anderson Funeral Home. We are dedicated professionals who take great pride in our work and in our community,” said Craig E. Buysse, managing funeral director of Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory and

Thank You For Voting Us #1 Tanning Salon 28 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

In addition to residential and small commercial cleaning, they offer move-in and move-out one-time cleaning as well as deep cleaning. “We knew there was a great need in Alexandria for trustworthy cleaners, people who have been vetted and trained,” she said. “Our whole business was borne out of a need that Alexandria had.”

Anderson’s on Broadway. The funeral home offers complete funeral and cremation care, and also operates Douglas County’s only crematory. “This is important for families,” Buysse noted. “When they choose us for cremation, their loved one never leaves our care.” Throughout its 150 year history, Andersons continually works to improve upon what it has done in the past. “This past year, our funeral

directors all worked to achieve the Pursuit of Excellence Award through the National Funeral Directors Association in key areas of funeral service,” Buysse said. “We were awarded a Certificate of Honorable Mention for our ‘Tribute to our Veterans’ at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Alexandria.” Something readers may not know: Andersons’ start in business came before Custer’s Last Stand took place at Little Bighorn.

Thank you for voting us the #1 Steakhouse in the Lakes Area.


Best Eyelash Salon I Candee

1307 Hwy. 29 N., Alexandria 320-760-8461 “Making Alexandria even more beautiful.” If eyes are the window to the soul, then eyelashes are the frames. I Candee owner Kobe Bradley helps brides, prom-goers and others look their best by giving them long, full lashes. “I just feel like probably everyone who knows me, I’m like one more lash, I have to

Best Garbage Company Alex Rubbish and Recycling 1301 36th Ave., Alexandria 320-763-4712

“Start Seeing Red” / “The Hometown Guys” “Taking pride in our customer service, supporting the community in various ways and being locally owned and operated,” is what President of Alex Rubbish and Recycling, Shaynen Schmidt, believes attributed to their win for the Best Garbage

put one more lash on,” she said. “I always try to go above and beyond.” Kobe started I Candee 11 years ago, after a decade spent doing makeup professionally. She still does full face makeup, and she said a fun fact about her business is that she does between 25 and 35 weddings a year -- by herself. She operates her business independently and has no employees, and is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, often working 12hour days in order to spend her other days at home with her young children. “I love what I do,” she said. “You can meet so many cool ladies in this town.” She said she was humbled to be voted the

area’s Best Eyelash Salon. She has not made any changes over the past year, she said, but she has continued to grow and learn and try new things, as always.

Company in the lakes area. Alex Rubbish first opened its doors in 1969, providing over 50 years of services to the community. Today, with 20 employees and its mascot “Red,” the company offers the community residential and commercial re-use and recycling collection services, roll-off container rental and disposal service, organics and yard waste collection, and contracted ash/water hauling. This year, to keep up their success growing, the company provided better education with their team and customers to maintain high standards of customer service and manage

well-maintained, safe and comfortable newer equipment for its employees to operate. Alex Rubbish and Recycling services Douglas, Otter Tail, Pope and Todd Counties, along with several cities located within these counties.


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Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 29

Best Hair Salon Polished Looks Salon + Spa 3905 Hwy. 29 S., Alexandria 320-759-1460

“We’ll do our best to help you look and feel your best!” Polished Looks Salon + Spa opened in 2012 and has five independent stylists to provide their customers with haircuts for men, women and children, specialty hair coloring

Best Heating, Electrical, or Plumbing Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical 2510 S. Broadway St., Alexandria 329-762-8645

If you have a plumbing or heating problem in the middle of the night, Ellingsons will come to the rescue. It’s one reason why it was named Best Heating, Electrical or Plumbing Company in the Alexandria Lakes Area for the sixth year in a row. Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical

services, waxing, pedicures, manicures and gel polishing services. “I believe we were chosen due to the amazing group of ladies I am blessed to call my ‘work family’ and for their creativity and dedication to our clients. We all love what we do,” said Deidre Ruegemer, owner of Polished Looks. “Also, we would never have gotten here without our clients. We appreciate you all so much!” Ruegemer says they do the best they can to adapt to the changes around them and to make the salon an inviting place for their clients to enjoy their time.

A fun fact about the salon is the unique setting. “It is not uncommon for clients to see wildlife including deer, pheasants and rabbits,” said Ruegemer.

is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its mission statement: “We are a dedicated team of professionals enhancing the lives of customers and employees while providing exceptional mechanical and electrical solutions to the communities we serve while maintaining a family-like environment.” The company traces its roots back to December 1981. It’s now grown to 106 employees in Alexandria and another 12 in Dickinson, North Dakota. It offers residential and commercial plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services, including design, installation, and maintenance, as well as sheet metal fabrication and commercial building automation. It also has The Fireplace Store, which

provides complete fireplace projects from start to finish, including fireplaces, and inserts, venting, piping, electrical, and stonework – as well as 24-hour service, every day of the year. Ellingsons integrated new service management software this year, which streamlines scheduling and dispatch, improves technician efficiency and customer experience. Fun Fact: Its yearly scholarship program awarded two high school seniors $10,000 each toward college education in plumbing, HVAC, and electrical technical programs.

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611 Broadway Alexandria 320-763-4940 Serving you since


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30 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

Best Insurance Agency Amy Christopherson/ State Farm Insurance

218 3rd Avenue E., Suite 100, Alexandria, MN | 320-762-2395 “Like a god neighbor, State Farm is there.” Amy Christopherson started her agency in 2017 although she has 20-plus years in the insurance industry as well as deep roots in the community graduating from both Jefferson High School and Alexandria Technical and Community College. In addition to serving the community and developing relationships with local nonprofits, Christopherson said her office offers all the traditional insurance products tailored to meet the needs of each family.

“Our goal is to help our clients leverage all available discounts and understand what their hard earned dollars are paying for, all while making insurance easy and enjoyable,” said Christopher. “We know our clients have many choices when it comes to insurance so we do our best to make sure they know how much we appreciate their business. And we’re thrilled to be named the Best Insurance Agency for the third year in a row.” In the last year, Christopherson gained two new team members, both with prior State Farm insurance, after they relocated their families to the Alexandria lakes area. “They’re fitting in great with our office culture and I couldn’t be more proud to have their knowledge and experience on my team,” she said. “I strive to invest in my team’s personal and professional development, and they just keep getting better every year.”

Best Real Estate Company Kvale Real Estate

609 Broadway, Alexandria 320-219-7678 “Our value is in our advice.” Kvale Real Estate started in October of 2020 and moved into its new downtown location last March.

Christopherson shared that State Farm has been the Number 1 auto insurer since 1942 and the Number 1 fire insurer since 1964. And she noted that out of more than 19,000 State Farm agencies nationwide, her team is currently ranked #115 overall. “We wouldn’t be where we are without this team,” she said. “I’m so proud of the amazing work they do every day to help protect families.”

Owned by Carl Kvale, the business has one employee and seven independent agents. “We advise and represent the interests of our clients through any and all real estate matters, residential, commercial, lakeshore and bare land,” Kvale said. “We are family owned and operated, so all the profits of our company stay local and support our local economy. We are also the only local company to not charge a broker’s administration fee to our clients. We are very proud of these facts.”

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 31

Best Nonprofit Organization Lakes Area Humane Society 3811 Nevada St. SW, Alexandria 320-759-2260

“The mission of the Lakes Area Humane Society is to promote responsible care and training for household pets through education and public awareness, and when appropriate, to provide a safe and sheltering haven for lost and abandoned animals pending placement in suitable permanent homes.”

Best Law Firm McCarten Law Firm

123 3rd Ave. E., Suite 600, Alexandria 320-762-8171 “Every client matters at McCarten Law Firm” McCarten Law Firm has been helping people with legal matters for over 90 years. Founded in 1926, the firm now includes three attorneys and two legal assistants. Paul McCarten attributes the firm’s longevity and success, including its second consecutive award for “Best Law Firm in the Alexandria Lakes Area,” to the firm’s strong commitment to its clients. “We take our role in guiding our clients through their legal issues very seriously,” said Andrew Wiener, a partner at McCarten Law Firm. “When a client hires us, they need an advocate – someone to stand up for them and to give advice, guidance, and

The Lakes Area Humane Society was formed in 1989, and its shelter was built and opened in July of 1999. It currently boasts four full-time and four part-time staff, and has provided shelter and care to more than 21,000 animals since 1999. “We continue to strive to make a positive impact on the animals in need in our community,” said executive director Christin Klimek. “We are working hard toward a future where pet overpopulation resulting in unwanted animals is no longer a serious issue.” The Lakes Area Humane Society provides many services to the community, some of which include the impounding of stray for many of the cities and townships in Douglas County, reuniting as many as possible

a level of compassion. That is what we try to provide.” The firm specializes in personal injury claims, family law, criminal defense, and general legal matters of concern to people in our lakes area. Paul McCarten is recognized as a “Super Lawyer” and has an “AV” rating, both determined by peer reviews and by the leading evaluators. He represents injured individuals with insurance claims involving motor vehicle accidents and other injuries caused by negligent behavior. He also represents individuals and businesses helping resolve issues. Wiener practices in the areas of family law (divorce, custody disputes, adoption, etc.), criminal defense, and litigation including personal injury matters. He was named a “Top 5 Under 40 Professional” by the Chamber of Commerce in 2019, a “Super Lawyers Rising Star” in 2021, and was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 2020. The newest attorney in the office is Breanna Goracke, who

completed a judicial clerkship in Pope County before joining the firm. Goracke focuses the majority of her practice on personal injury cases, but also represents clients in family law and criminal defense matters. Over the years, the McCarten Law Firm staff have found it hard to leave the firm. Past legal assistants have worked for the firm for 52 years, 45 years, 40 years, and 37 years. “We hope for new longevity


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32 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

records with our current staff,” McCarten said.

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Also at 3405 Dakota St | Alexandria, MN 56308 | (320) 219-7846

with their owners; providing education to children and adults regarding the importance of responsible pet ownership; providing behavior counseling and referrals/resources to pet owners in need; and assisting local law enforcement with abuse/neglect cases. Besides cats and dogs, LAHS has provided shelter to potbellied pigs, small and large birds, fish, iguanas, mice, hedgehogs, goats and even an alligator once.




1/2 RACK






Best Massage or Spa Massage by Sarah

614 Hawthorne St., Alexandria | 320-815-4038 “Helping heal the body, mind and soul.” Sarah Roers just started her own business this year and already she won the Best of the Lakes Area contest for Best Massage or Spa. That’s because she built her reputation while working for others. She has been doing massage locally for 17 years. “I try to be a good listener,” she said. “I believe communication is a big key part of the massage.” That might mean knowing whether her client is OK with the pressure of the massage and the table heat, what is

Best Nail Salon Nails of Alex

1402 Broadway St., No. 5, Alexandria 320-759-3018 “Customer is first.” During its six years in business, Nails of Alex has won over its customers, whether they want their nails glittering gold, painted with happy Santas, or decorated in a wide range of styles and colors. They were named this year’s Best Nail Salon

bothering them and how they are feeling. “I also like to ask questions,” she said. “That’s how I figure out what areas may need extra attention. I want my clients to be comfortable from the minute they walk in my office to when they leave... feeling refreshed, less pain and just simply, cared for!” Roers is the only employee. She offers 30-, 60-, and 90-minute sessions and specializes in relaxation, sports, geriatric, deep tissue and pregnancy massage, and reflexology. Massage therapy reduces stress hormones such as cortisol by as much as 40% in one session and a 60-minute massage offers the same benefits to your body as 7-8 hours of sleep, she says. “I have always had it in the back of my head that I would like to go out on my own sometime and this was the year!” she said. “And what a blessing it has been.”

and Mimi Nguyen, who owns and manages the business with husband Kevin Nguyen, says she thinks it’s because they treat customers like family. It’s a natural approach, as the eight or nine employees are all family, too. “We like to build the relationship to the clients for the long term so the clients keep coming back, even the summer people,” Mimi said. That means making sure they don’t overbook appointments, and value their commitment to their customers. They want the customers to be happy when they leave, and that includes making

available a wide selection of colors. The salon opened in 2015, and Mimi said she took over in June 2017. They provide pedicures, manicures, gel nails, acrylic nails, and dipping.

Best Local Music and Performance

Andria Theatre

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 33

Best Photographer Amanda Becker Photography 8 Railway St. W., Kensington 320-808-0468

Amanda Becker, owner of Amanda Becker Photography, loves to capture almost anything from newborns to seniors and families, including couples and engagements. However, she does not shoot weddings at this time. She also offers school portraits, print products and themed mini sessions throughout the year. “Over the years, I have been volunteering my time and photos at our annual Easter Bunny and Santa Days at the Kensington Community Center,” Becker said. “I also do yearly Halloween photos at my studio, and with a food shelf or Operation Christmas Child donation they get a free print. It’s my way of giving back to my community and those less fortunate.” Becker explained that her love for photography became her passion when she decided she needed to capture those moments in life that go by way too fast.. “Memories fade, but those photographs show the story for years to come,” She said.

Becker started her photography business about 10 years ago. She is the only employee, although occasionally her daughters or friends help with special sessions. Although she started on her front porch at her farm, she soon found an old building in Kensington and remodeled it into a studio. She is currently rotating in new props and run items to use with her clients in their photographs. “I’ve carried a camera around since I was in mid high school and just love capturing everything,” Becker added. “I love looking back and remembering all the special moments that have faded from our memories. So with every session, I make it personal. I believe in being one hundred percent myself with clients, being goofy or weird, and just having fun to make the whole experience a good memory. It’s more than just the images at the end. It’s about making that connection with the clients, feeling their vision, incorporating my vision, and making each and every session perfect for each family. I don’t feel like I follow a style or the norm of other photographers. I try new things, but ultimately, I find what works best for each session and go with it. No two are ever the same.”

Best Tattoo Parlor RM Tattoo and Body Piercing


1203 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-310-3582

Choosing us as the

“Live in moments that matter.” Randy McKernan, owner and tattoo artist, said he, along with Molly Fitzgerald, tattoo artist, and Taya Eickstein, body piercer, continually strive to be the best and always improve their art. “We ensure the best quality of tattoos and service,” said McKernan. “And provide a high

BEST CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE IN THE LAKES AREA level of care and attention to each of our customers.”

2017 RE

THANK YOU for Choosing us Best Ribs!


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34 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

119 6th Avenue East • Alexandria • 320-762-8185

Best Manufacturing Company Douglas Machine

1705 34th Ave. W., Alexandria 320-763-6587 “Employee owned, customer driven.” Douglas Machine was founded in 1964 by Bud Thoen with a vision to invent and build exceptional automated packaging machinery. Two years later, Vern Anderson joined the newly founded business. At Douglas Machine, the mission is, “To enrich lives by providing differentiated packaging automation and services.” “This mission is at the heart of everything we do, and it is supported by our strong commitment to a set of core values – unwavering integrity, servant’s heart, ownership spirit and continuous innovation and improvement,” said Sara Hoidahl, marketing and communications manager. She said the company’s tagline, “Employee owned, customer driven,” is also illustrative. “As a 100% employee-owned company with more than 700 employee owners, customers can be confident we’re always doing our best to create positive experiences through our people, products and services,” said Hoidahl. Douglas is a global leader in automated secondary packaging solutions for food and

beverage companies. It specializes in the design and manufacture of case and tray packers, shrink wrap systems, cartoners and variety pack systems. Douglas Machines has been a part of the community for almost 60 years. “We recognize we have a role to play in making it even better. This starts with being intentional about having a positive impact on our employee’s lives, and hoping that impact ripples into the surrounding community,” said Hoidahl. “To that end, we work hard to create good employee experiences, promising career opportunities and compelling ownership benefits. We also try to positively impact the Alexandria area through The Douglas Machine Foundation, with objectives to improve the quality of life in our community, and support employee owners in their own charitable giving through a dedicated gift-matching program.” Over the last year, Douglas completed a 50,000 square-foot expansion that added additional production capacity. It also remodeled key areas in its main building to create more office space. “Additionally, we enhanced two of our product platforms through the launch of our next-generation CpONE™ horizontal case packer and the OPTX™ series shrink

packaging systems,” Hoidahl said. “With continued strong growth in 2021, we’ve added significantly to our team and are continuing to hire.” And did you know Douglas Machine has installed more than 11,000 machines in more than 30 countries. When people grocery shop, there is a high probability the items bought at one point ran through Douglas-built equipment. Hoidahl also said the company likes to have fun while working hard. “From our Employee Appreciation to Summer Celebration week to Employee Ownership Month, we like to participate in activities as varied as the rubber chicken toss, football throwing contests, bean bag toss, ice cream socials, lunches, lip sync battles, raffles, prizes and more,” she said.


320.834.9622 Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 35

Best Tanning Salon Glow.

700 Cedar St., Suite 103, Alexandria 320-491-0855 “At Glow, we specialize in providing our clients with custom airbrush tans using solutions made from naturally derived ingredients. It’s our mission, and passion, to make everyone feel beautiful in their own skin. It would be our pleasure to get you glowing.” Glow, owned and operated by Nicole Mehrer and Allie Janssen, first opened its doors in 2019. Mehrer and Janssen are the sole employees which Mehrer says is a fun fact about their business.

Best Title Company Integrity Title

2209 Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Alexandria, MN 320-763-3311 Integrity Title opened its doors on Jan. 1, 1999, but Jill Wagner, who owns it with her husband, Jim, has been in the business

“We are a team of two,” Mehrer said. Mehrer believes her and Janssen’s business was chosen due to their excellent customer experience with every tan they complete. “We take time to get to know our client’s desired outcome during the first few minutes of their appointment and deliver a beautiful tan using quality products,” said Mehrer. “We want each client to leave feeling like they had a personable experience with plenty of attention to detail.” Glow offers its customers custom airbrush tans, which according to its website, provide a flawless tan using all-natural ingredients to mix a personalized color that’s perfect for each client without the damaging effects of UV rays.

since May of 1986. She said there are 10 employees. But if you count her mom, “who is free,” she said there are 11. The company’s tagline is “Magnificent service by inspired professionals.” However, Wagner said they chose the name “Integrity” because they wanted to have their name

sum up what they believed in – “Doing what is right, even when no one is looking.” She said it took her and husband a long time to come up with the name, but they had assistance from their family. “My dad actually engraved a wood plaque with the saying on it that hangs in my office,” said Wagner.

She believes Integrity Title separates itself out from the competition because of the quality of service they provide; the feeling customers receive from all of the staff that they truly care; their experience in the business; and finally, their true love of giving back to the community.

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16159 MN-29, Glenwood, MN 56334 | (320) 634-3558 36 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

Best Resort Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center

700 Cedar St., Suite 103, Alexandria 320-491-0855 The mission of Arrowwood Resort is simple, said general manager Shari Prause. “As a company, we strive to be the leaders in our industry by fostering a positive culture that focuses on serving our guests, supporting our associates and our local communities while ensuring the trust of our owners and partners,” she said.

Best Veterinary Clinic Alexandria Veterinary Clinic 710 3rd Ave. W., Alexandria 320-762-8112

“Our mission is to provide companion animals with accessible, genuine, high quality, compassionate health care that enhances their lives and enriches the lives of their human families.” Alexandria Veterinary Clinic PetCare Center has been serving area animals since 1917. It has a staff of 25 employees who “strive to

Arrowwood celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, having opened in 1971, and has boasted more than 250 employees in the summer months. The resort offers many accommodations with its guest rooms, townhomes and cottages, as well as a year-round waterpark, spa, indoor pool and tennis center. It also offers outdoor recreation, with a full-service marina, 18-hole golf course, executive putting course, yard games and sand volleyball. Over the past year, some work was done on the exterior of the resort, although the project had to pause because of COVID.

“We will hopefully be starting the other side prior to winter this year,” Prause said. Prause added that she thinks Arrowwood was chosen as the best in the lakes area because of its customer service and the amenities it offers its guests.

provide excellent, prompt, courteous service to achieve client satisfaction,” said practice manager Chris Jost. The clinic offers a variety of different services for general veterinary practice. Some of these services include general wellness visits, vaccinations, spay/neuters, digital radiology, in-house laboratory, dentistry and canine physical rehabilitation. Specialist orthopedics and dermatologists also routinely visit the clinic. Jost said the clinic has made several significant changes over the past year. “We provide quality products and service which includes a consistent knowledgeable

staff that offers the necessary technology education to empower our clients. We also expanded our boarding facility with new suites,” he said.

Thank you for voting us your


Ricky Kluver, Shaynen Schmidt, Shane Schmidt

320.763.4712 Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 37




Best Antique Store Yesterday’s

517 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-762-8990 Ask Mandy Brower, owner of Yesterday’s, and she’ll tell you why Yesterday’s was chosen as Best of the Lakes Area. “I feel we were chosen because of our staff and dealers commitment to bringing in quality pieces that are unique and on trend in the vintage and current home goods

Best Bicycle Shop Jake’s Bikes

419 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria 320-219-7433 “It’s all about the experience.” Jake’s Bikes opened in 2009, but owner Jake Capistrant’s dream of opening his own shop started 27 years ago when he began working at The Bike Shop in downtown Alexandria. Jake’s Bikes is now in a bigger and better location, which Capistrant said has helped enhance customers’ shopping experience.

Best Building Supply Store Hilltop Lumber

1405 N Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-763-9663 “We help plan, supply and deliver dreams!” With locations in Alexandria, Glenwood, Parkers Prairie and Ottertail, Hilltop Lumber has built a solid reputation as the best building supply store in the Alexandria Lakes Area. The business, which began in 1988, offers a full range of building supplies and home improvement products such as windows, doors, roofing, siding, decking, railing and more. Its kitchen and bath design center features

38 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

market,” she said. “Ron and the team have an incredible eye in staging and styling and they are the best this area has to offer in terms of service and just simply being great humans within this community.” Founded in 1994, Yesterday’s currently has nine employees, and offers styling advice, design and direct purchases from consumers. “We have had 4 owners over 27 years and Ron, Kardy and Gail have been there through it all. That’s longevity!” Brower said. Over the past year, Yesterday’s has made some significant changes.

“We remodeled and refocused our entire store inside and out,” Brower said. “The Dashery, a better brands clothing store for men and women moved in to one side and we have had a great time meeting and introducing customers to each other.”

The hiring of what he called his “awesome team” has helped guide customers through their bike-buying process. The mission at Jake’s, said Capistrant, is to “provide you with the means, opportunities and inspiration to ride bicycles.” Jake’s Bikes, with its eight employees, offers bike and accessory sales, service and rentals, area experts in bike trip planning and advocacy, and fitness equipment sales and service. At Jake’s Bikes, where it’s all about the experience, Capistrant said his staff members love to ride bikes – no matter if it’s riding to work in the morning, riding on a Monday night with the Big Ole Bike Club or if it’s

hitting the local mountain biking trails. “Every employee engages in making our customers into fans by offering best in class service,” he said. Capistrant also shared that Jake’s Bikes teams up with the annual Jingle Bells Telethon each year and has recycled and donated more than 200 bicycles to children for Christmas.

cabinetry, countertops, flooring, blinds and closet systems. “We also have a team of expert draftsmen to help customers design everything from decks and remodels to large homes and commercial projects,” said Kayla Fearing, director of marketing. “The Alexandria, Parkers Prairie and Ottertail locations include Do It Best Hardware stores. We also operate the Hilltop Rental Center at our Alexandria location which offers a wide variety of professional grade tools and equipment to rent.” Within the past year, Hilltop Lumber improved the interior of its Alexandria store, giving it a major facelift by remodeling the second floor to include more office space and a large meeting area.

Hilltop also remodeled its employee lunch/ break room and is currently updating its kitchen and bath design showroom. “We are also expanding our Ottertail location with a 5,000 square-foot addition, which will include office space, an expanded showroom, conference room and storage,” said Fearing.

Best Boat or Marine Dealer Alex Auto & Marine LLC 1424 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-762-8412

“Quality vehicles at affordable prices.” In July of 2021, Alex Auto & Marine celebrated 10 years in the business of selling fun by holding a parking lot bash with free food and entertainment. Alex Auto & Marine specializes in fun on the water. They still sell pre-owned cars, but watercraft and accessories have become a dominant part of their business. They sell Lund boats, Misty Harbor by Viaggio pontoons, Beach King docks and lifts, as well as Aqua Lily Pads.

Best Appliance Store Cullen’s Home Center

1620 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-762-1249 Started in 1976, Cullen’s Home Center has grown extensively over the nearly 50 years it’s been in operation. It started as an insulation business in the basement office of Tim Cullen’s home and has since grown to see several expansions to its retail location.

The business provides automotive service from basic oil changes to engine replacement. A detail shop is available for automotive and marine, and if you’re looking for a snowplow by Boss or Sno-Way, they sell those too. “We service everything that we sell, new and used,” said owner Todd Hansen. Business has been great this year because seasonal residents were spending so much time at their cabins with family and buying fun toys, he said. Due to his expanding business, Hansen also bought the lot between his building and Living Waters Church, last year, for a parking lot and display area for growth and development. He also resealed the parking lot. He said the staff is enjoying the extra space and improvements. Alex Auto & Marine has 12 full-time

employees, including five certified mechanics, and Hansen gives them credit for earning the business the Best of the Lakes Area award for Best Boat or Marine Dealer. “My amazing team really takes pride in customer service and providing customer satisfaction to the best of our abilities,” he said. “We try to go over the call of duty in every situation and for the most part we do a great job.” He added that their customers also deserve credit for making them the best in the area. “We couldn’t do it without them,” he added.

With more than 40 employees, Cullen’s Home Center strives to improve the lives of all they serve, according to the company’s mission statement. The family-owned and now second generation-operated business offers appliances, electronics, furniture, home decor, blinds, cabinets, countertops, insulation and building products, fireplaces, and kitchen and bath remodeling. Cullen’s recently remodeled its store to expand their furniture offering and

introduced Cullen’s Furniture Gallery. They now offer several well-known, reputable furniture lines to beautifully furnish any room in your home. “We are the largest, most complete home center in central Minnesota and we pride ourselves on outstanding customer service,” owner Jana Cullen Horstman said.

! u o y k Than for voting us the

e r o t S e r a w d r a H #1

406 Broadway • Alexandria • 320-763-5200

convenient • local • helpful service • great selection Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 39

Best Camper or RV Dealer Paul’s Small Engine Sales and Service 1510 N. Nokomis St. NE, Alexandria 320-762-5167

Paul’s Small Engine Sales and Service offers sales and service of Ice Castle fish houses and RVs, along with powersport and lawn and garden sales and repair.

Best Convenience Store Casey’s

700 Voyager Dr., Alexandria 320-763-8860 3373 S Broadway St, Alexandria 320-759-1580 716 3rd Ave E, Alexandria 320-759-2252 Casey’s General Store was chosen as Best Convenience Store in the Alexandria lakes area. It currently has three locations in Alexandria. Taken from Casey’s website: Since our humble beginning in 1968 as a general store in Boone, Iowa, Casey’s

Owned by Paul Brickweg, Paul’s Small Engine Sales and Service started in 1985 and currently has nine employees. “We strive to offer the best experience from start to finish,” Brickweg said. “We believe in going above and beyond the customer’s expectations by taking time to understand their needs during the buying process. Having a knowledgeable staff that also enjoys the outdoors, and utilizing the products that we sell, helps give the customer the best experience possible.”

has steadily grown from the heart of one community to the next. Today, we serve communities across 16 states in more than 2,300 store locations. Yet our focus will never waiver from being the friendly face who brews your first cup of coffee to greeting you with a smile on your last stop after work. While we continuously aim to create innovative services and offerings, we’ll always stay true to making life better for our communities and guests every day. At Casey’s, our purpose is “to make life better for communities and guests every day” — and we make sure it shows. We are passionate about giving back to our communities because we are our communities. We’re your neighbors, your friends, and your family. We take pride in

supporting efforts that strengthen our communities because our families also live and work here. We know you by name, and we show up for you when we know we can help. We are here for our communities, which means we’re Here For Good.


BEST FAST FOOD Visit your local restaurant: Culver’s of Alexandria 610 50th Avenue Alexandria, MN 56308 320-763-2266

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40 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021














Mark Juettner, President

SALES CONSULTANTS Joe Juettner, Vice President

Bill Grove

Morgan Hauer

Josh Hornberger

Billy Knott

Chad Muehlenhardt

Sam Pederson


AJ DuFresne

Scott Eldred

Jake Juettner, Vice President

Rob Weiner Adam Downing, Vice President

Body Shop/ Detail Shop

Service Department


Brad Hanson, Office Manager

Tina Brakken, Title Clerk

Amber Salonek, Reception

Mariah Seibel, Accounting Assistant

Tom Dietman, Finance Manager

Marc Johnson, Collision Center Manager


1900 Broadway, Alexandria | 320-763-3126 |

Ron Johnson, Service Manager

Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 41

Best Car Dealership Juettner Ford

1900 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-763-3126 “Your Best Price Dealer” Juettner Ford offers new and used vehicle sales, including new Ford, Lincoln, Crhysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram models, with financing for all vehicle sales. It also has a collision

Best Gift Shop or Boutique Creative Touch Boutique

516 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-762-8786 Creative Touch Boutique celebrated a milestone this year – 20 years. It opened its doors in October 2001. Currently, it has six full-time employees and six part-time employees. “At Creative Touch Boutique, we provide high quality, trendy and affordable clothing and home decor bringing women comfort and style in their home and wardrobe,” said Natosha VanLiere, marketing director. The boutique offers two ways to shop its styles – in its downtown Alexandria store or online at Another service the store offers is free local pickup. Customers can shop on the website and select “local pickup” at checkout. Staff will get the items ready and customers can stop in when it works in their schedule to pick up their items. Free shipping is available on orders over $75. “We pride ourselves in offering exceptional customer service,”

center, a detail department and a service and parts department that can service most vehicles, not just the brands sold at Juettner. “I believe we were named the best in the lakes area because we have a great group of employees that make it easy and enjoyable for customers to buy a vehicle or get theirs serviced,” said general manager Jacob Juettner. “We are also very involved in the community and support many local causes. Also, I believe that the local community appreciates that we are a family-run business

said VanLiere. “Our customers are the most important part of our business and we always want them to have the best experience while shopping in our store or on our website.” She also noted that Creative Touch Boutique has a new service, which is exclusive shopping events. This is where friends, family, coworkers or groups of people can have an evening of private shopping. Contact the store for more information. Over the past year, the store has made a number of changes. According to VanLiere, it launched its children’s section, which they continue to expand. The store also now carries a larger selection for girls, toddlers and baby clothing as well as room accessories, blankets, toys and books. And it just launched a girls’ shoe section, too, she said. In June, a new website was launched, which offers larger images for customers to see more details, the ability to review items and overall, offer a better online shopping experience. “This summer, we started launching new arrivals two times a week, which means we have brand new clothing items every Monday and Thursday – available in the

that is going into the third generation.” Opening in 1976, Juettner Ford currently has 48 employees. One interesting fact about the business is that when it was started by Jack Juettner, it was one of the first auto dealerships to get two franchises — Ford and Chrysler — under one roof.

store and on our website,” said VanLiere. “We also do a live video on Wednesday nights showing the new arrivals of the week.” She also noted that the store has a warehouse in the basement, which is the behindthe-scenes of everything people see in the store. This is where the full-time employees work, getting all the inventory ready and where they unpack all the new items coming in. As for why they were chosen the best? VanLiere said, “We have the best customers! We offer a wellrounded shopping experience where any shopper can find

something they love whether they are shopping for clothing, home decor, kids, etc. We pride ourselves in being that store that anyone can shop at and find something they love for themselves, their home or that perfect gift.”

We are very grateful and humbled to have been chosen as the funeral home category award winner for the Readers' Choice Best of the Lakes Area. It is our great honor and privilege to serve the families of Alexandria and surrounding communities. Thank you for your confidence and trust in us!

Let us take care of your

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42 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

801 Broadway Street • Alexandria, MN 56308 Phone: 320-219-6278 •

659 Voyager Drive NW • Alexandria, MN 56308 Phone: 320-763-5900 •

Best Flooring or Carpet Store Arnquist CarpetsPlus 805 1st Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-8050 “Happy customers one square-foot at a time.” Opening in 1930, Arnquist CarpetsPlus, a four-generationowned business, celebrated its 91st year. The store, which started its tenth decade this year, offers a variety of flooring options including carpet, wood, vinyl plank and tile. This is not their first time on

the area’s Best Flooring list, and President Adam Arnquist said he thinks customers appreciate the educational approach their sales team takes. “I think our sales people are very good educators,” he said. “It’s our unique point of difference.” This year, Arnquist CarpetsPlus built a new warehouse to accommodate more inventory in light of the growth it is seeing throughout Minnesota in its commercial division. It also added two new employees in that division. It now has 11 employees, and provides a full line of service for flooring jobs. “It’s a pretty exciting time right now,” Arnquist said.

Best Grocery Store Elden’s Food Fair 707 3rd Avenue E., Alexandria, MN 320-763-3446

Elden’s Food Fair, named after two of its owners – Elliot and Dennis Christensen – was started in Austin, Minnesota in 1982. The business was then moved to Alexandria in 1997. In 2012, the owners did a full-store remodel and officially changed the name to Elden’s Fresh Foods. Elliot Christensen shared the grocery stores mission statement: “As an independent supermarket owner, we are proud to have a personal stake in the community we serve. We are very aware of our responsibilities to our community, our customers and our associates and pledge to be good stewards of your trust.” During the summer months, the store employs more than 120 people. It offers a full service meat department, bakery and deli and it has the largest produce and natural department in the area, according to Christensen. The store also

includes a dairy and frozen department, health and beauty supplies and Elden’s Downtown Floral is on-site with floral designers on staff. In addition, he said Elden’s offers On the Go home shopping service with delivery or curbside pickup. Over the last year, Christensen said they have installed brand new self-checkouts and also upgraded to the latest technology available. As for being chosen as the best in the lakes area, he said, “Because of our friendly, helpful staff. Clean, well-stock store. Great customer service at checkout and the quality and variety of our fresh meats and produce, as well as our community involvement and support.” Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 43

Best Hardware Store Ace Hardware

406 Broadway St., Alexandria 320-763-5200 In order to build a reputation as the Best Hardware Store in the Alexandria Area, Ace Hardware focuses on its customers, providing a friendly service with a local touch. “We help customers find solutions to their problems/projects and explain to them how to do their projects if needed,” said Rocqulyn Gustafson, Ace Hardware president. “We stock the hard-to-find items, new items and quality brands.” The store is also able to respond quickly to changes in merchandise demands.

“We try really hard to keep our shelves full – so important during these strange days,” said Gustafson. “We are local, we live here and we care about our customers. The business, which is family owned in its second generation, began in 1963 and has 15 employees working in the Alexandria store. Besides all the hardware items, it offers a wide range of services – key cutting, dealership quality keys, fobs, remote programming, paint tinting, carpet cleaner rental, window glass cutting, special orders, and free delivery on Weber gas grills and Traeger smokers above $399 in its designated delivery area. The store recently started offering Blackstone griddles and accessories. “We have expanded our line of grilling

seasonings and sauces,” Gustafson added, “bringing in Meat Church and Kosmos brands as well as others.” The store also expanded its selection of battery powered yard tools, including brands such as EGO, Milwaukee, Dewalt, Toro, Craftsman, and Black and Decker.

all they serve, according to the company’s mission statement. The family-owned and now second generation-operated business offers appliances, electronics, furniture, home decor, blinds, cabinets, countertops, insulation and building products, fireplaces, and kitchen and bath remodeling. Cullen’s recently remodeled its store

to expand their furniture offering and introduced Cullen’s Furniture Gallery. They now offer several well-known, reputable furniture lines to beautifully furnish any room in your home. “We are the largest, most complete home center in central Minnesota and we pride ourselves on outstanding customer service,” owner Jana Cullen Horstman said.

Best Home Furnishings Cullen’s Home Center 1620 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria 320-762-1249

Started in 1976, Cullen’s Home Center has grown extensively over the nearly 50 years it’s been in operation. It started as an insulation business in the basement office of Tim Cullen’s home and has since grown to see several expansions to its retail location. With more than 40 employees, Cullen’s Home Center strives to improve the lives of

Best Jewelry Store Hedine Jewelers 611 Broadway St, Alexandria (320) 763-4940

“An old-fashioned jewelry store, and proud of it” Opened in 1922, Hedine Jewelers is just one year shy of celebrating 100 years in business. “We’re doing something right,” said Paul Hedine,

Best Paint Store Sherwin-Williams Paint Store 1402 Broadway St. Suite 1, Alexandria 320-763-7384 “Ask Sherwin-Williams” While the Alexandria location of SherwinWilliams has been open since 1994, the business itself has been around for 155 years, opening in 1866 in Cleveland, Ohio. Store manager Kim Haan said there are four major components of what makes the local store Best of the Lakes Area: “Personal touch,

44 | Best of the Lakes Area 2021

who owns the store with his brother Tom. The store provides many services, from retail, selling diamonds, watches, clocks and colored stones, to services like resizing rings and setting pearls. “Anything that needs to be done,” Paul said. Both brothers are also goldsmiths, which “helps a lot,” he said. Paul said that perhaps the most fun fact about the store is the number of nice people he and his brother meet, as well as the repeat business they receive. “If you treat them right, people keep coming back,” he said.

outstanding customer service, knowledgeable staff (and) exceptional products.” In addition to residential and commercial industrial products and a full line of specialized floor coatings, Sherwin-Williams offers color consults, color and stain matching, and deliveries, as well as purchase retention for the past 10 years. This past year, Sherwin-Williams added online ordering for all customers, and easy curbside pick-up. “We enjoy our customers and building relationships with them,” Haan said. You will often walk into our store and hear comical bantering.”

Best Liquor Store Cashwise Liquor

801 North Nokomis St. NE, Alexandria 320-762-2524 “We empower employeeowners to create unique shopping experiences, anticipate needs and exceed expectations for our guests.” Cashwise Liquor is an employeeowned operation and a part of Coborn’s Incorporated. The Alexandria location opened its doors in 2011 and is managed

by Aaron Tosh There are 13 employees that help maintain the store. Tosh believes they won Best Liquor Store for their genuine service, a wide selection of products and fair prices. Cashwise offers carry-outs, online click and collect orders, online ordering for delivery and customer requests for products they do not currently carry. After a significant remodel, Cashwise re-opened its doors on Oct. 25. According to Tosh, there is still work to be done and he expects the entire project to be completed by Dec. 1.

Best Sporting Good Store Osakis General Store 204 Central Ave., Osakis 320-859-5159

“Osakis General Store for the whole outdoors.” Gregg and Judi Anderson first opened the doors of Osakis General Store in 1990. It started as a general hardware store selling small amounts of ammo and sporting goods. “Over the years, the demand for sporting goods grew, and we had new owners of another hardware store in town, so it was a perfect time to sell our hardware inventory and go the whole hog in all things sporting goods. Plus, Gregg is an avid hunter, and we both love the outdoors,” said Judi. Today, they have 12 employees to help service the surrounding communities with their outdoor needs and essentials, offering its customers’ firearm classes and gunsmith services while selling hunting and fishing licenses and

bait. Customers also have the option to buy, sell and trade firearms while also having the opportunity to use the store’s layaway services on all products. Judi believes their store won for the above and beyond attention they provide to each customer that comes into the store. “We are so blessed to have such dedicated customers who check with us first before they go elsewhere,” said Judi. “You are not a number here. Our staff are some of the most well-informed in the industry and are eager to help you. We always look for better ways to meet the needs of our customers.” Best of the Lakes Area 2021 | 45

Best Tire Store Tiremaxx Service Center 801 3rd Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-4111

Lee Ostendorf, owner and manager of Tiremaxx Service Center, said the mission of his business is the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” “This has worked very well for us over the



years,” Ostendorf said. The business started in 1988 and built its existing building in 1997. It currently has 10 employees. It’s those employees that make Tiremaxx the Best of the Lakes Area, Ostendorf said. “They do a great job and I give the credit to them, as they are dependable and work very hard to do a great job on every repair they do,” he said. Tiremaxx offers complete tire service,





alignment and full service auto repair on both foreign and domestic models. It also sells aftermarket wheels and tires.



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