Minnesota gift guide doubles in size; labels proposed

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The Made in Minnesota Holiday Gift Guide, first offered online by Minnesota 2020 on Nov. 20, has doubled in size as more Minnesota manufacturers, processors and retailers of Minnesota made products submit product and location information for inclusion.

The popularity of the online guide has some Minnesota manufacturers proposing that a “Made in Minnesota” label be developed to promote buying Minnesota products year around.

“It sure wouldn’t hurt if more people knew we have Minnesota made products,” said Darlene Ellefson, the Moorhead author and seller of the Lefse book.

She said she doesn’t know how much business the Gift Guide has driven to her www.lefse.net web site. People tell her they’ve seen her on television when Minnesota 2020 held a press conference in Moorhead. “I usually bring up the Gift Guide when I’m talking to people, so I don’t know how many people knew about it before,” she said.

Mr. B Chocolatier, the Willmar makers of chocolate turkeys, Santas and other molded chocolate products, is in the late-season scramble of getting chocolates made and shipped before Christmas and can’t stop to even tally business that might be generated by the Gift Guide, said co-owner Trish George.

“We’re swamped right now,” she said. “We can’t tell how much business is up this year over last year.”

But she does know of at least one couple, from Mankato, who stopped by the Willmar store to buy a chocolate turkey they saw in the Gift Guide.

By this morning, the Gift Guide had 225 Minnesota entrepreneurs listed. At least 60 more are being processed and will be added to the guide within the next day or two.

Some of their products lend themselves to promoting their Minnesota made origins. Others do not. Ellefson, the “lefse lady” as she is known around the Fargo-Moorhead area, said she has talked to other Minnesota entrepreneurs about stickers, or a logo, for their products.

While Minnesota manufacturers contemplate that promotional move, the purpose is clear. It should serve the same purpose as the “Minnesota Grown” logo so successfully promoted by the marketing division of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for Minnesota farms and food processors.

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