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A new shop that’s for the birds

April 7, 2008

Wild Bird Specialties opens up in Northstar Willy’s on Highway 12, Dassel

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Local bird lovers will be happy to hear there is now a speciality shop open in Dassel that will help feed their hobby and their feathery friends.

Northstar Willy’s owners, Kristi and Jim Rorah, were looking for something that would better utilize the extra space thay had, other than for storage.

They decided upon a new business venture that caters to the area bird lovers.

Thursday, the couple opened the doors to Wild Bird Specialties, located in the space next to Northstar Willy’s.

“We wanted to do something with the space and take advantage of the Highway 12 frontage,” said Kristi Rorah.

After mulling over a few ideas including a gift shop, the two decided it would be best to have a store that would be unique to the area.

Jim also happens to have a degree in ornithology, the study of birds, so a specialty bird shop seemed to fit nicely, according to Rorah.

They have been to the specialty stores before, including Wild Birds Unlimited, but they usually have to drive a distance to get the good quality feeders and feed.

“We wanted to try it on a smaller scale and see how it goes,” she said.

Area lake associations have expressed interest in a local bird specialty shop. The nearest, according to Rorah, are in St. Cloud and Minnetonka.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens,” Jim said.

Although there are larger department stores in the area that carry bird feeders and such, they aren’t of as high quality, according to Kristi.

She spoke to one bird lover who is tired of buying cheap bird feeders that need to be replaced every year.

“The cheap ones don’t last,” she said.

Some of the brands of bird feeders the Rorahs carry won’t supply to the big box stores and are stronger and made to last longer, she said.

High quality brands of bird feeders that can be found at Wild Bird Specialties include Droll Yankees, one of the top selling manufacturers of tube feeders, and Woodlink, which is known for its wood bird feeders.

As many bird lovers know, squirrels can be pests. The Rorahs might have a solution, with several options of squirrel-proof tube feeders and wooden feeders.

“There are some pretty clever ways to keep squirrels out, but I have a feeling there is a squirrel out there that can find it out,” she said.

Also available are a variety of bird houses, along with wood duck and bat houses, too.

“We have a good variety of low-cost, but high-quality. We are more competitively-priced since we have less overhead than other specialty stores,” Rorah said.

Like humans, birds like good quality food, as well.

Wild Bird Specialties supplies Nyjer seed, which is a type of thistle seed that can only be imported from Africa, according to Rorah.

“The finches love it,” she said.

For those sympathetic to squirrels, Wild Bird Specialties carries a Squngee, which is a squirrel bungee that holds cobs of corn. It’s like a fun toy for squirrels that may distract them from those feeders meant for the birds.

There is even fun for the kids. Wild Bird Specialties carries assembled bird houses, as well as those the kids can assemble themselves.

“There’s a lot of different things available for bird lovers,” Rorah said.

There is a variety of bird books and resources available to learn more about the backyard friends. Jim may even share some of his expertise, he said.

If there is something a person can’t find at Wild Bird Specialties, the Rorahs will be happy to accommodate by special ordering products with fast shipping.

Depending on the season, customers can expect sales and additional products.

“We’ll be adding more as we go,” she said.

After remodeling and getting the story ready with the help of their daughter, Brittany, 8, and their son Blaine, 12, the Rorahs officially opened doors last Thursday.

Store hours will be Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Customers can also expect a grand opening event the last weekend in April. Check the newspaper for more details as the date draws near.

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