Linda Johnson is a woman who takes pride in what she is doing, literally.
The owner of Home Sweet Home in Minot is a solid proponent of North Dakota products marketed under the Pride of Dakota label. A variety of North Dakota products reflecting Johnson's rural upbringing can be found at her gift shop on Fourth Avenue Northwest
"I think I do have a lot of pride in North Dakota because I'm a North Dakota native, born and raised a farm girl. I appreciate all of the aspects of agriculture that our state has," said Johnson. "I married a farm guy, farmed for 25 years and raised our sons on the farm."
Kim Fundingsland/MDN •
Owner of Home Sweet Home in Minot, Linda Johnson is a proponent of “keeping it local.”
Johnson was working as manager of Home Sweet Home when former owner Betty Wood asked if she would be interested in purchasing the business. Johnson did so in 2000 and turned to Pride of Dakota products to help increase her business.
"I saw a growing demand for Pride of Dakota products. The customers enjoyed the quality and I expanded, devoting an entire room to Pride of Dakota products," explained Johnson. "I'm very proud to market them as high quality products from our state. A big part of my business now is marketing North Dakota products."
Many of the Pride of Dakota products promoted by Johnson bring back memories of everyday life on the farm especially those days when the chokecherries were ripe for the picking or the enjoyable scent of Juneberries was drifting out of the kitchen.
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"A lot of people have memories of when their grandmother or mother used to make syrup or jelly out of Juneberries or chokecherries. They love it," said Johnson. "When it comes to our jellies, jams and syrups, chokecherry and Juneberry are the best sellers."
Among other popular Pride of Dakota items sold at Home Sweet Home is a variety of soup, dip and bread mixes. Bison products are also in demand, particularly from those who wish to send a gift to relatives living elsewhere.
"A lot of people send those types of items to relatives who live out of state. They send them a taste of North Dakota. They are proud of these products as well," said Johnson. "I had a customer tell me just a couple of weeks ago that she likes to buy North Dakota products at my store because she not only supports my business, but other North Dakota businesses as well."
Johnson is a believer in supporting North Dakota entreprenuers whenever possible. It comes easy for her. She recalls her days on the farm when times were a little tough, and uses that background to help understand the need for buying Pride of Dakota products.
"I really believe in keeping the money in the state and keeping it local. A lot of these people doing Pride of Dakota products are farm women who need to work, so they come up with old family recipes and produce a product everyone enjoys. Coming from an agricultural background, I know what it can be like on the farm and I want to help them and really promote agricultural products from our state," said Johnson.
According to Johnson, North Dakota's Department of Agriculture deserves a lot of credit for promoting Pride of Dakota products at home and abroad. The list of Pride of Dakota merchants is closing in on 450. Pride of Dakota Shows, such as the one held recently in Minot and this past weekend in Bismarck, are always very well attended.
In an effort to keep up with demand for North Dakota products, Johnson opened "Gifts Dakota Style" at her Home Sweet Home location; packaging and sending North Dakota products throughout the U.S. She and her staff fill online orders from their Web site at (www.ndgifts.com).
"Over the years our customers have dictated what we do with our business by what they purchase," said Johnson. "We sell a lot of consumable items and, when it comes to Pride of Dakota items, the quality is top-notch."