It's sometimes said that word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. For one Minneota business, that kind of loyalty has earned it statewide media attention.
This week, Gislason's Ace Hardware, located on Minnesota Highway 68 in Minneota, was voted the best hardware store in Minnesota in a poll on the WCCO website. Winning that honor means being featured on WCCO News' "Best of Minnesota" segment, which airs during the 10 p.m. news on Thursday.
"We found out yesterday," said store owner Barb (Gislason) Rye on Tuesday morning. "We're very happy and very proud."
Rye said a television crew was on the way to Minneota, even though they anticipated a difficult drive through the snow. In a message posted to Gislason Hardware's Facebook page Tuesday, Rye and partner Dave Fahey invited customers to come and share what they thought of the store.
Other contenders in the poll included hardware stores in Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Cloud, and Northome. Rye said she knew Gislason Hardware was in the running, thanks to a Minneota community member.
"Rita Dovre had called us and said she was nominating us for best hardware store in Minnesota," Rye said. "Then we found out that she got up in church and let everyone know about it. We were watching the poll online."
Gislason Hardware has had plenty of time to build up a loyal customer base. It's been part of the Minneota community for four generations.
"The store goes back to my great-grandfather," Rye said. Throughout the years, the business has sold everything from International Harvester implements and hunting gear as well as hardware. One of the most recent additions to the business has been the Arched Door, a portion of the store devoted to gifts and home decor.
Rye said community members' response to the news has been positive, both in person and online. Rye and Fahey said they wanted to thank local residents for supporting the business.
"We've always said Minneota is one of the most supportive communities out there," Rye said.