Lisa Christenson can say she’s been 21 years in the city of Garrison.
But she’s also been nine years in Aitkin and now, she’s expanded her Curio brand into the small town of Malmo, opening Curio Outfitters in May of this year.
The new store is one of three clothing and gift shops that Christenson runs – all catering to various “lake crowds” depending on their locations. Currently, Mille Lacs Curio operates in Garrison and Curio North in Aitkin.
“Mille Lacs, I do a lot of custom-like items,” explained Christenson, who works a lake’s name and shape on items like thermal cups, glassware and cribbage boards, to name a few.
“When I started in Aitkin, there’s a lot of lakes up in Aitkin,” she said about Curio North. “I actually carry more lakes in Aitkin than Garrison.”
With Curio Outfitters, Christenson decided to offer a bit of a different look – at least in terms of the lakes that are offered.
But the stores carry far more items than just lake-related sweatshirts, t-shirts and the like.
The Curio Outfitters store has everything from window stickers to candy, to stuffed animals and jewelry.
There are also candles, lotions, perfumes – and even home decor. All three stores feature bath bombs made by survivors of human trafficking as well as fabric bags – the profits of which help purchase school books for children in India.
Between the three stores, it’s a fair bet that a shopper can find something for anyone. Christenson tries to buy Minnesota-produced products first and also emphasizes U.S.-made merchandise.
“I’m a small business person,” Christenson said. “I try as much as possible to buy local in my communities. I believe in small business.”
She said this year was the perfect year to try a new location.
“When I decided to open Malmo, one store takes a hit? Two to help it along is better,” Christenson said. “And honestly, what better year to open a new store?”
“There’s more people out and about this year,” she added.