A changing of the guard

Dalager’s, a longtime Minneota convenience store, gets new owners

Photo by Jim Muchlinski Chuck and Linda Dalager sold their convenience store in Minneota to Jeff and Erica Vierstraete on Jan. 1.

MINNEOTA — After many years, Dalager’s customers won’t see the same familiar faces behind the counter. Instead they’re seeing new faces who want to carry on its traditions.

Former owners Chuck and Linda Dalager sold their convenience store business as of Jan. 1 to Jeff and Erica Vierstraete. It will be known as Dalager’s Convenience Store LLC.

Chuck said the decision to sell was based on nearing retirement age and wanting more time to spend with family.

“They’d asked us before,” he said. “In the past we’ve said no, but this time Linda and I talked about it and decided it was the right time.”

He began his career as a carpenter working in the construction field. A work-related injury coincided with a decision by his parents, Chester and Evelyn Dalager, to retire from the store.

Dalager’s has a tradition as a gas and grocery store, much like the supply stores located near resorts in northern Minnesota. He added that it began as “gas and grocery” business and evolved into a convenience store concept.

“In the past we had some customers who bought all their groceries here,” Chuck said. “It’s moved toward being a convenience store, but there’s still a good variety of grocery items.”

Chuck and Linda first took over the store 35 years ago, after his parents ran it for 22 years. They’ve added a pizzeria, video and DVD rentals, and updates to the kitchen area.

They said the store has been truly a family business. Their children, and more recently their grandchildren who live in Minneota, have played an active role in the daily routine.

Linda said the grandchildren often came to the store on Thursdays, a day with many grocery deliveries. They’d have lunch and help unload and crush boxes.

“We enjoyed having them involved,” Linda said. “It was a family activity. They worked hard and got things done.”

They capped off their retirement by serving the grandchildren the official “last treats” that they made in the store. They said they for the most part are enjoying the new role of being former owners.

“I already miss the customers and employees, seeing the same people almost every day,” Chuck said. “I don’t miss getting up before dawn to be here by 6:30. Our grandchildren are growing up. We want to be an active part of their lives.”

Jeff Vierstraete said he and Erica decided to keep the Dalager name because of the many years of tradition it has in the Minneota area.

“We’re not going to change much,” Jeff said. “Dalager’s is a popular place. People like it. We’ll keep giving customers what they want.”

Customer Matt Breyfogle, who works in Minneota, said he likes having Dalager’s within walking distance of his downtown workplace.

“It’s a great store,” Breyfogle said. “The pizza and the service are awesome.”

Customer Jeff Yeo said he’s happy that the Dalager’s tradition will continue.

“I like everything about Dalager’s,” Yeo said. “It’s hometown.”