Shop Small to Support Your Neighbors

November 20th, 2014


Guest Post by Dee Slinde

As the chill of winter settles on Lanesboro, we are reminded of the upcoming Holiday Season, and all of the joy and giving of thanks that goes with it. It is usually considered to be a time of family, friends, remembrance and appreciation. Over the years I’ve noticed each holiday becoming more commercialized, often to the detriment of the true meaning of the holiday. Shopping for holiday gifts on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday has become an artform, a competition and a controversy as big box retailers compete for consumer dollars, and consumers compete with each other to find the cheapest deals.

Over the past few years, as a counter to the massive consumerism that has brought us what some have referred to as the “Happythanksween” season, there has been a movement to encourage shoppers to be more thoughtful in the spending of their holiday dollars. We are encouraging folks to ‘Shop Small’ on Small Business Saturday, November 29th, 2014. The effects of this are twofold: it allows families to focus on their traditions of being able to gather together to give thanks on the actual Thanksgiving holiday, and it encourages people to shop at the locally owned and operated stores to keep our local community’s economy thriving.

The dollars spent at our local stores and restaurants directly affects not only our neighbors that own the businesses, but also many other businesses and ourselves when those dollars recirculate throughout the community. For example, the purchase I make at a local merchant’s business may  be used to pay the wages of the business’s staff, who will then spend it on food, housing, utilities and so forth in our community. Some of my purchase goes to pay the taxes and utilities of the business, which helps the City to provide the services we enjoy, such as plowed streets, beautiful parks, and quality schools. Some of my purchase might be used to pay a local plumber or carpenter for a remodeling project at the business. Perhaps the carpenter likes the community and may decide to build a new home in the area that will add to our local tax base, and in a roundabout way, helps to keep my taxes lower in the process. Pretty profound, when you think about it.

Many studies have been done to track the value of a dollar that is spent in the local economy, and most studies indicate that for every dollar we spend locally, it will recirculate through the local economy an average of 7-8 times…in other words, the dollar you spend locally compounds by 700-800%…if only my stocks would produce such a return! The simple act of shopping at a small/local business has far reaching effects.

Lanesboro will be hosting Winter Windows Live on Small Business Saturday, November 29, 2014. Being in a community that is filled with nothing but small, independent businesses, we invite you to shop thoughtfully/Shop Small! 

Schedule of Events

10:00 am: Free kids movie at the St. Mane Theater (Muppet Christmas Carol/sponsored by Lanesboro Arts, Pedal Pushers Cafe, Merchants Bank and Lanesboro Web Management Group.)

11:30 am: Winter Windows Live (free events) = artist Leisa Louis Grill at Lanesboro Arts, musician Tom Schramm at Amish Experience, scenes from “A Christmas Carol” at E2 Boutique, lefse-making at Pedal Pushers Cafe, Ekstrom Family Christmas at Beste Byen, Santa’s Workshop at the Cottage House Inn, Heart Strings Harp Circle concert at Coffee Street Fitness, Christmas games at Stone Mill Inn, and a Christmas sing-along at the Commonweal Theatre!

1:30 pm: The Commonweal Theatre presents “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)”  Families and kids welcome, tickets available in advance or at the box office 507-467-2525.

Sharing Lanesboro is Good for Lanesboro

November 4th, 2014

Ann Han

Guest Post by Dee Slinde

As I’ve mentioned before, I get together with a group of longtime friends several times a year to get away from our busy lives and reconnect with each other. After copious levels of subtle hints, gentle cajoling, and eventually, downright nagging over the past few months, I’ve finally managed to get my ‘ let’s go up north’ friends to forego the annual fall colors weekend trip to Duluth. This year, they agreed to come to Lanesboro instead! Granted, it has something to do with missing the best fall colors due to the earlier than usual peak in the northern half of the state, but hey, whatever it takes to get them here, right? None had visited Lanesboro previously, and all have questioned my sanity for leaving the “Big City” to live and work in this rural community. The opportunity to show off Lanesboro during one of the most beautiful times of the year was exciting! The hardwoods that line the bluffs, trails and neighborhood streets were at full color by the second weekend in October, and they were all pleasantly surprised by the unique beauty we enjoy in Bluff Country.

The hardest part was figuring out how to share all that is Lanesboro with them in just 3 days. How could I possibly plan an itinerary for this eclectic group? My visitors included corporate and governmental leaders, customer service workers, artists, real estate entrepreneurs, waitresses, and more,  with the only common thread being that we’d all known each other for a long time. After a while, I finally gave up on the whole itinerary idea, and figured I would just let Lanesboro be Lanesboro. There is always plenty to do on any given weekend; let them discover Lanesboro’s charms on their own terms.

The Hoot on the Root Music & Arts Festival  was at the forefront of the schedule October 10-12, the weekend they arrived. There were plenty of local and regional performers playing, plus great BBQ provided by location hosts Smoky River BBQ. That became the hub where my visitors reconnected after exploring whatever interested them throughout their visit. The Lanesboro Area Arts Trail was taking place , as was Over the Back Fence; the Commonweal was doing one of the few remaining performances of ‘Around the World in 80 Days‘,  all of which were attended by at least some of my friends.  Others took an Amish tour or shopped. Some wanted fine dining while others wanted more basic fare. Some rented bikes, others went canoeing.

All in all, much of what makes Lanesboro such a great place to live, work and play was sampled by someone in my group, and perhaps more importantly, was shared with the rest of the group through enthusiastic conversations about their experiences in the community. In fact, the conversations continued long after the weekend ended, and have resulted in several ‘friends of friends’ coming to visit Lanesboro. Many from the group plan to come back to try out a few of our B&Bs, and some are planning to bring their families back in the future.

As it turns out, sharing our pride Lanesboro is also pretty good for our local economy. My new philosophy? Share if you care!





Just relax… Lanesboro, MN!

August 15th, 2014


Among the many accolades Lanesboro and Bluff Country have garnered over the years is the beauty and charm and peace of our campgrounds. This past Memorial Day weekend, I was out at Eagle Cliff Campground visiting some friends and while I was there, I was struck by the sight of people staying at the campground, hanging out at their campsites and some of them simply sitting in captain’s chairs just hanging out and shooting the breeze. Some by a fire, some with a game of cards going, some with a drink in their hand. But what was mind-boggling to me was that they weren’t really “doing” anything other than relaxing and enjoying themselves. It reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite comic movies “Office Space”:  “I did absolutely nothing all day and it was everything I thought it could be”.

I don’t mean to get all philosophical or anything but this really struck me. I fall into that category that so many of us do. Ask me “so how have you been lately?”, and my answer is often “busy”. How many of us often say that? Too many. But I have been trying to rethink my answer to that question and not be so “busy”. This is hard! And I’ve started to realize that many of the visitors to Lanesboro have the right idea….to relax. To let go. To just be.

Now of course relaxing means something different to everyone. I love to sit and watch TV and knit and that’s how I find my “moment of zen”. My husband loves to write stories, and that’s what relaxes him. I have a friend who loves to bicycle for long distances and that calms his mind and gives him release from the day to day grind. What’s so awesome is that in Lanesboro we all can find our own unique way to relax and reconnect with ourselves, our family and with the world us. Maybe it’s poking through the shops downtown, or taking the time to absorb the artistry all around you at the Lanesboro Art Center. Maybe it’s dinner and a play at the Commonweal Theatre, or the Over The Back Fence show at the St Mane. Perhaps it’s sitting around the campfire with friends and family, maybe roasting hot dogs or s’mores. Whatever you prefer, sometimes we feel guilty about taking quality time for ourselves, and it takes someone else to suggest the idea before we seriously consider it. 

So here’s my invitation to you. Come to Lanesboro and relax. You deserve it!

Until next time,



*Lanesboro Barn Dance (August 16, 2014)

*Exhibit: Selections from the 2014 Minnesota Biennial (through October 12, 2014)

*”Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Commonweal Theatre (through September 6, 2014)

*”Around the World in 80 Days” at the Commonweal Theatre (through October 27, 2014)

*Lanesboro Farmers Market (May through October, 2014)

For more information on these and other upcoming events in Lanesboro, 
please visit and check out our “Calendar of Events”. 

Beyond the List – What Makes Our Region a “Best Of…”

July 25th, 2014

This month we welcome to our blog Dee Slinde, our new Executive Director of the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. Dee now makes our beautiful region her home after years of visiting and enjoying what makes Lanesboro go “Beyond the List”!

Trail Towns Sign

Photo Courtesy of Ana Hagedorn

Over the 4th of July weekend I loaded up to attend the annual birthday celebration for a dear friend, as I have for more than twenty-five years. It is an opportunity to connect with old friends, enjoy some campfire music, and philosophize about life in the way only those that have known each other for a long time can.

As the conversation evolved, I spoke about my new position as the Executive Director for the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, reciting the very long list of wonderful features we enjoy here in our region: things like the bike trail, the Root River and its water sports, the Commonweal Theatre, the Lanesboro Arts Center, great restaurants, Amish culture…you know…the 60 second elevator speech any good representative of our area should be able to recite at the drop of a hat.

In the way only a dear old friend has of cutting to the chase, one of my friends asked, “That’s all wonderful, but lots of places have those kinds of  ‘things.’ What’s so special about the Lanesboro region that convinced you to leave a career and a life that you were happy with to go do that instead? I know you, and I know there’s more to the story. I can hear the passion in your voice when you talk about it. So what is the real attraction?”

I thought about that for a moment. My friend was right, of course. Lots of places have art, or natural beauty, or great restaurants. The one thing that is certainly harder to verbalize, but infinitely more important, is what brought me here: the incredible amount of cooperation and ability to work together for the greater good that Lanesboro and our surrounding communities have with each other.

I believe that spirit of cooperation shines through more brightly than many of our community members and businesses may even realize. When I initially came to the area as a tourist, I was struck by how friendly everyone was. To my amazement, when a local retail store didn’t have an item I wanted, I was cheerfully referred to a vendor across the street. I remember at the time thinking how odd it was for two competitive businesses to “share the wealth” so easily. Having come from a somewhat more bloodthirsty background in the corporate world, this was a foreign concept, but a welcome one.

Over the course of the next couple of years, I became a regular visitor to the area, spending time in each of our Harmony-Preston Valley, Root River Trail Town communities, and realized that that spirit of cooperation extends throughout the entire area. When Lanesboro’s Das Wurst Haus restaurant closed due to the owner’s retirement, I was quickly referred to Rosi’s German Restaurant in Houston as an alternative. When I asked where I could get a good piece of pie, The Aroma Pie Shop in Whalan, Village Square in Harmony, Pedal Pushers Cafe in downtown Lanesboro, and Burdy’s in Peterson all came highly recommended (and I have since tried them all!). Last November I decided to make this area my home. Accepting the Executive Director position this past March felt almost serendipitous!

Lanesboro has been awarded with a slew of  “Best of…” recognitions in publications both regionally and nationally, most recently in the Smithsonian Magazine’s Top 20 Small Towns to Visit in the USA in 2014, the Star-Tribune’s Best of Minnesota, and ArtPlace’s Top 12 Small Town Art Communities in the USA. All of the articles talked about the many wonderful “things” this area provides for visitors to enjoy. Yet none spoke of what I would consider the real “secret sauce” of what makes our area so special.

I have always embraced the “Everyone does better when EVERYONE does better” philosophy – in fact I have a bumper sticker next to my computer to remind me of it. Finding a place that actually practices that philosophy is the real “secret sauce” of what makes our region so special. These days, finding a person that has a genuine interest in working together to help their neighbors AND competitors is unusual. Finding a whole region of communities that do is incredibly rare.

Now, when folks ask me what brought me to the area, I don’t recite my elevator speech. I tell them I came for the secret sauce.

-Dee Slinde, Executive Director, Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce



*”Fiddler on the Roof” at the St. Mane Theatre (July 18, 19, 20 & July 25, 26, and 27)

*Buffalo Bill Days: Lanesboro’s City-Wide Festival (August 1-3, 2014)

*Exhibit “Summer Dreams” at the Lanesboro Art Center (through August 10, 2014)

*”Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Commonweal Theatre (through September 6, 2014)

*”Around the World in 80 Days” at the Commonweal Theatre (through October 27, 2014)

*Lanesboro Farmers Market (May through October, 2014)

For more information on these and other upcoming events in Lanesboro, 
please visit and check out our “Calendar of Events”.