Entrepreneurs open three BL businesses [UPDATED]Published 10:44am Tuesday, August 7, 2012 Updated 12:20pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Although they came to Battle Lake after facing unemployment 14 months ago, Keith and Katie Baldwin have already opened three thriving businesses.
Keith was laid off from his job in Miltona when he and his wife decided it was time to leave. Katie frequently visited her parents’ cabin on West Battle Lake when she was growing up, but Keith was unfamiliar with the area.
The couple first decided to purchase, clean up and reopen an old laundromat on the south side of town.
Soon after opening the laundromat, one of Keith’s friends suggested he open a consignment store.
“We decided to try it with absolutely no idea what we were doing,” Keith said. “I thought we would have six toasters and three blenders on a shelf, and people would walk in and turn right around and leave.”
Instead, Keith has seen an incredible show of support from the community.
“It’s beyond our wildest dreams,” he said.
Katie’s New 2 U Shop has about 25 consignors, and Keith said he tries to have a quick turnover of interesting and unique products so customers always have new things to look at.
“I love it,” said customer Diane Greenagel. “I’ve been here twice, and I think it’s unique. There’s a lot of stuff to look at.”
After hearing several comments about how the store brought back memories of the old Battle Lake flea market, Keith saw another business opportunity.
Keith opened Barter Town – Buy, Sell and Trade in May about five years after the old flea market shut down. The ‘new flea market’ had its opening day on Memorial Day, and although it is still in the building stage, Barter Town has been growing.
“Setup is free, and exposure from (Highway) 210 is great,” he said. “People can have garage sales at the flea market for free.”
Barter Town is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The newest acquisition to the Baldwin’s businesses was the addition of Fergus Falls’ Premier Meats and Seafood products at Katie’s New 2 U Shop.
“I was having a casual conversation with Susan Kay from Lakes Radio when she mentioned the idea,” Keith said. “I went to Premier and talked to Brian (Oliphant), and the next day I had a freezer and inventory.”
Keith already has plans to expand his meat inventory.
“There seems to be a huge interest in saving gas money,” he said. “People have told me this saves them a trip to Fergus Falls.”
Keith has been an active member of the community, and he was recently named president of the Lakes Area Development Association and he is on the board of directors at the Prospect House Civil War Museum.
“This is just the way life works,” he said. “Life is 10 percent what is given to you and 90 percent what you do with it. The community has been very welcoming.”