By Kristen Miller
KINGSTON, MN After nearly three years, Kingston residents will once again have the convenience that comes with having a mini-mart and gas station in town.
As new owners of the Kingston Mini-Mart, Kingston native Jim Orn and wife Kristie are busy getting the store ready for an April opening.
Built in the 1940s, the service-station-turned-convenience-store changed ownership several times over the years, the most recent owner being Joel Inselman who bought the store from Theresa Hauan.
The store closed in May 2010, and the building has been vacant since.
Orn, who is the general manager for Mies Outland in Watkins, was helping his son fix a foreclosed home he purchased in Kingston, when he realized the old mini-mart building might have potential of its own.
The Kingston Mini-Mart has since been the couple’s new venture.
Jim has been working nights and weekends to remodel the interior of the building. Some of the work has included taking out the dropped ceiling and installing canned lighting to brighten it. New flooring and walls have also been installed.
New coolers have also been purchased and Jim is working on a snack counter to offer hotdogs and other items.
Since Kingston is roughly nine miles each way from another town, the Orns wanted to give the mini-mart “a little different spin” and, instead of just a convenience store, expand its selection and offer more grocery items.
The name won’t change, but the exterior will get a slight makeover once the weather warms up, Jim commented.
Next to the mini-mart sits a building that was once a coffee shop. Though Jim doesn’t have any plans for that building currently, he is open to suggestions.
The mini-mart will be a family-run business, Jim said, with Kristie managing the store during the week. Jim will help during the nights and weekends, along with their son and daughter-in-law.
Hours will, in a sense, follow daylight-savings time, he said. Hours in the summer will be Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Winter hours will be Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Orns are anticipating opening the store the first week in April, with a grand opening event in May, Jim said.
Kingston residents have expressed to Jim their excitement for the new store and “have asked if it could open tomorrow,” he said.
A long history of owners
The store was built in the early 1940s by owner Elmer Ruopsa, who ran a service station and garage at the location. It was later sold to Harold and Sylvia Hendrickson, who then sold it to Willard Peterson.
John and Sandy Smith purchased the business from Peterson in the early 1980s. They then sold it to Jerry Imholte, who converted it into a mini-mart.
Imholte sold it to Pat Rorick, who sold it to George Meline.
Meline ran the store for 13 years, and then sold it to Norm Lehto.
Theresa Hauan, of Dassel, then purchased the mini-mart, which she ran for about six years before selling it to Joel Inselman in September 2007. The business closed in May 2010.