Orange and black, blue and gold; the colors of school spirit welcome customers as they walk in Hisdahl’s door.
After 14 months in rented space at Birch Lake Square, Keith Hisdahl finally opened his new store Nov. 1, 2020. The footprint is about the same, but the longtime White Bear business has a modernized new look on Highway 96.
His parents, Don and Carol, started Hisdahl’s in the late ’60s, setting up their first trophy shop in Auger’s Garage. In 1972, the business moved next to Cup and Cone and in 1976, settled at the current address in a house built in 1919. They offer screen printed and embroidered apparel, custom trophy and recognition placards, and have a small Scouting department inherited from Parenteau’s when it closed.
Keith was 11 when he started working for the family business. An ’81 White Bear grad, he went on to major in graphic design and marketing at St. Cloud State. His graduation present from his parents was the screenprinting shop in the building’s basement. He purchased the entire business in ’95.
All the custom work at Hisdahl’s is done in-house, with help from seven employees, three of whom are full time. Keith creates all the graphics for the Bear wear and Zephyr items, proudly claiming to “produce quality stuff to hang on the wall or wear.”
Skate sharpening is a $6 service that Hisdahl has provided since age 13. “I’m very particular about sharpening skates,” he said. “I love doing that.”
Also proud of his Norwegian heritage, Hisdahl strived for a Nordic look to the building’s colorful exterior. He worked closely with architect Susan Herbert Welles and local builder Paul Husnik on the project. A two-bedroom upstairs apartment is occupied by a family member.
Hisdahl said he figured it was time to “invest in myself,” so he started the arduous process to remodel that took eight long years. He had to give up on a first plan “that didn’t work out with city,” so he went to Plan B. “It’s been a struggle,” he admitted, thanking his wife Cheryl for supporting him as he “follows his dream.”
COVID-19 did a number on his bottom line in 2020, but Christmas was strong, which helped. Shutting down team sports during the pandemic especially hurt sales, but shoppers are starting to trickle in.
The store owner said he “loves White Bear customers. They are committed to their small businesses, and that’s appreciated. They like customer service and we work hard at providing that.”
When he’s not working, Hisdahl enjoys being on the golf course and crewing an A-boat on summer race nights. “I’m not all work,” he pointed out.
Winter store hours are 9 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 to 3 p.m. Saturday.
— Debra Neutkens