The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 27, 2013

Group aims to document local business stories

Group aims to document local business stories

By Amanda Dyslin
The Mankato Free Press

---- — Set to a bluegrass song by The Last Revel, the short video provides an inside look at The Dork Den on Riverfront Drive in Mankato.

The video isn’t promotional, although the store’s gaming products and events are featured. The video isn’t solely a journalistic enterprise either, as the owners can play a part in final edits of the video, which is shorter than five minutes.

The aim for the video — the first from the new not-for-profit organization Made in Mankato — is simply to document the story of a locally owned small business. And founders Jordan Powers, Ryan Frederick and Mike Neitz are planning many videos to follow.

“The whole original intention was just to promote everything local,” Powers said. “To give people a glimpse into the stories of these small businesses we have in our area, and to encourage people to participate.”

Powers and Frederick have done some video work together in the past. Powers is a photographer and Frederick, a member of the band Revilwen, records bands’ music. And in April, Powers brought the idea to Frederick to showcase local business.

“We kind of wanted to do something bigger that contributed to the community a little more,” Powers said.

With Neitz coming on board to help with some of the filming, the three arrived at the idea to do one video a month, featuring one local business and set to the music of a Minnesota band. The videos would be posted on their website on the first of the month, and they would have a local screening the weekend prior to release at the business featured.

The Dork Den screening will be held Saturday.

“We want to try to make a big event out of it,” Powers said.

Powers and Frederick said they chose the Den first because Neitz had been in the store several times and thought the owners had a good story to tell. The store also has developed a community among its customers.

Frederick said the videos are truly a labor of love, as the men have put several hours per day for weeks into their first one. And they aren’t being paid for their efforts.

Already, even before the release of the first video, they have a ton of traffic on their website, and their Facebook page has reached more than 1,100 likes. The group’s goal of being more of a “movement” than a business is off to a good start, Powers said.

“People from Mankato tend to support their own,” Frederick said of the public interest. “There’s a certain amount of pride.”

To help with costs, the group may sell merchandise in the future and sell ads, the funds for which would all be reinvested into the organization.

The group put out the call asking for people to nominate businesses to feature, and they received more than 60 suggestions. They are looking at Mankato Brewery as the next one to focus on.

If you go What Screening of The Dork Den video by Made in Mankato When 7 p.m. Saturday Where The Dork Den, 603 N. Riverfront Drive, Mankato Info 933-0413,