Osnabrock – Town of the Year
Surprising Businesses in a Small Town
OSNABROCK, N.D This is Osnabrock, North Dakota. It’s about 5 blocks wide and 5 blocks long and is home to about 100 people, give or take. The locals call it Oz and they have even renamed some of the streets to go along with the famous movie. And while it may be small, a lot of the people that live here feel they have their spot over the rainbow.
While Broadway in Osnabrock looks quiet, look a little deeper and there’s a lot going on.
The Up North Kennel is just a few years old. They took over what had been the old grocery store. You would think a small town away from any big city would be an odd place for a business like this, but not so.
Jory Schlink: “Well all the surrounding towns you know , hockey in the winter and people going to the lake, bring their dogs here you know. Within 20 miles there’s really no kennels around.
A little further down Broadway is a shop that would be right at home on Broadway in Fargo. The place is a surprise for those that stumble upon it.
Jess Balsdon – Owner of Jess’s Junk “They are absolutely shocked that, like if they’ve never been here before, this exists?? and it’s so cute and this should be downtown somewhere else. And they just walk through and giggle and they laugh and it makes me happy.”
The store is in Jess’s husband’s former childhood home. He wanted to tear it down but she had a vision. With 60% of her business coming from online, location is not as important. If you show up here there may be a note on the door saying to give Jess a call and she’ll open up. That’s the advantage of being in a small town.
Jess Balsdon – Owner of Jess’s Junk “I get to kind of set my own hours I get to kind of do what I want and I enjoy going to the lakes in the summer. So it’s not that it is on a main street in a busy, busy town that you know you should be open every day”
The heart of the this small town, like so many is the local café. Little Helga’s Barley Bin and Bakery provides that social gathering spot for breakfast and lunch. But you’re going to find a few things on the menu that aren’t typical for a small town eatery.
And today’s special, Icelandic hot dogs made of lamb, imported from the small island nation at some cost.
Jolene Halldorson – Owner of Little Helga’s Bakery and Barley Bin: “The last shipment I got, I paid $80 shipping and It only had 30 hot dogs in it. So it is expensive but I like to do it to help promote the Icelandic heritage in the area”
Osnabrock like many small towns does face some struggles due to a decreasing population.
The fire department especially feels that challenge.
Jeff Flink – Osnabrock Fire Chief: “Mainly getting people here to go in the trucks. We are in a rural area and everyone is on their farms, but it seems everybody will drop what they have to do and head to the fire hall whey a fire call goes off”
And it’s not only personnel, these pumper trucks are nearly 40 years old and could use an upgrade.
Jeff Flink – Osnabrock Fire Chief “Insurance companies are after us because our pumps are only 400 gallons per minute and they want us to have 750 to 1000 but it takes a lot of money to buy new pumper trucks”
Through the challenges this town continues and as the mayor told me, Osnabrock isn’t just where the road ends, it extends out to the surrounding area that supports it. After all like Dorothy says there’s no place like home and those in Osnabrock think this is the Emerald City.