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Meadowbrook of Dorset finds neighborhood niche

Julie Kvitne stands near a fall display. Husband Bob was camera-shy, claiming he wasn't dressed in proper attire. The couple recently opened their fourth Meadowbrook store in Dorset. They love their neighbors. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Meadowbrook of Dorset is a place with multiple personality disorder.

When you're in the merchandising business, that's a wonderful thing.

There's something for everyone.

Julie and Bob Kvitne of Grand Forks opened their fourth Meadowbrook store on Dorset's main drag in early July; their fifth overall. They own three in the Grand Forks area and one in Moorhead.

The Dorset community welcomed them with open arms.

"People have been so nice to us, it's been amazing," Julie Kvitne said,

"They love the camaraderie of the merchants, the one-for-all, all for-one spirit.

"One business is as important as the next," Julie said. "It adds to the ambiance."

The funky store sells boutique clothing and affordable lakewear, cottage décor, food, greeting cards, knick-knacks, gift items galore, kitchen items and décor.

Kvitnes keep restocking the gourmet items on the shelves. They've run out of "grandmother" sweatshirts and if you need that perfect little black dress, it's there, too.

The couple bought the building across the street from Compañeros in early July and opened three days later.

"The challenge is trying to put it together in this little building," Julie said.

It is a feast for the eyes. Every space is crammed with themed vignettes and arrangements of items only Julie could put together. It's full, but not cluttered.

She combines a fearless mix of contemporary items, vintage looks, a good eye for colors and the result is an amazing look of "shabby chic."

They love the traffic from their neighboring eateries, "happy people, well fed carrying white containers."

It's a great atmosphere for shopping, Julie maintains.

The couple was able to find local reliable and very competent help to staff the store while they're overseeing the others. The staff from their other stores all converged in town for the annual Taste Of Dorset.

"It was a very, very fun day," Julie enthused. "Isn't this a fun little town!"

The old vault in the middle of the store is a special "kiddie cave" of fun items for the younger set. Children's clothing is also a popular seller for grammas shopping for a spoiled little loved one.

The packages of jellies, honey and soup mixes are best-sellers.

But Julie also has a sideline business of in-home consultation.

She will come into your home to achieve the look you want inside and outside. She shys away from the term "interior decorator." It doesn't fit the repurposing work she does.

"I can stay within your budget" doing anything the customer wants, she said. It's not about the sale of new items, it's about the finished look.

"I tell people not to have your garage sale until after I've done your home for you," she advises. "We love mixing it up."

But she can custom order items, place special orders and mail merchandise to customers.

If the end result looks anything like the store, it's a charming blend of eclectic and personal décor that will invite compliments and showcase the personalities of the homeowners.

Bob, meanwhile, is busy on his own project, converting the adjacent building into a place for those with more testosterone.

It will be called the "Dorset Garage" and will cater to men's tastes. It is slated to open in the spring.

Julie plans on buying specially at winter markets for the Dorset store to fit its unique locale and customers.

The store closes Sept. 10 for the season. Julie and Bob made plans for September they can't cancel, already having lost one vacation to the store setup when things happened more quickly than they'd anticipated.

But come spring, they'll host a grand opening and be here in time for the Governor's Opener.

Currently their hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 to 9 weekends. But Julie says if the town is hopping at night, they'll stay open later.

That's what good neighbors do for each other. Meadowbrook found an immediate home in downtown Dorset.

The store's phone number is 732-9221.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364