Nov. 20 – A fast-growing handmade soap company has just opened a Mankato store in the mall where Old Navy and Michaels are located.
Buff City Soap sells a variety of plant-based soaps and other items that are made at the store on a daily basis.
Franchise owner Chris Meyers said this is his 11th store, with the other 10 in Iowa. “There was very rapid growth,” he said of the company, which has more than 200 stores nationwide.
Buff City not only specializes in soaps, but also bath bombs, body butter whipped, lotion sticks, Epsom salts, and laundry detergent.
“We’re known for our detergents,” Meyers said. People can select any fragrance they find in the store to use in the laundry detergent they buy.
The store will also host soap-making parties, including children’s birthday parties, where colorful and fragrant bath bombs will be made.
“We also have a lot of gift boxes. Christmas gift boxes are huge for us, and we have a lot of corporate gift boxes and hosiery.”
Strong new business growth
Several other new developments are open or nearing completion.
Scooter’s Coffee on Madison Avenue, at the former location of Long John Silver, is open.
The Starbucks and Chipotle buildings, which will be constructed on Lor Ray Drive next to Walgreens in North Mankato, are both almost all framed as work on the project has progressed rapidly over the past month.
Featuring Bubble Tea and Bubble Waffles, Sweet Spot is located in the former Wysiwyg Building at 527 S. Front St. in downtown Mankato. They offer a selection of bubble teas, ice cream and a bubble waffle with a scoop of ice cream.
Contender Esports is open at the east end of Madison East Center at 1400 Madison Ave. The Gaming Center offers 47 PCs, five Xboxes and 12 Nintendo Switches.
Froggy’s Sweets & Treats, formerly in Le Sueur, opens in downtown Mankato at 615 S. Front St. on the site formerly occupied by Union Market.
A new bank, commercial condominiums and shops at the mall are also in the works or open.
New West Bank
West Bank came to Mankato in 2019 and was housed in offices on Broad Street in part of the old Meyer & Sons building.
Now they are in the process of building a new bank near the intersection of Highways 22 and 14 on Premiere Drive just north of the Country Inn & Suites.
“It was always our plan to build a building,” said Market President Tom Lentz. “You just have to build a business base first. We found this property and it has great visibility.”
They hope to be open by the end of June barring supply chain delays. “Things are going well so far.”
The bank will have a unique curved roof and modern design used in their Rochester and St Cloud banks. They also plan to build in Owatonna. They have four banks in Minnesota and 11 in total.
A major commercial condominium development is underway on the far eastern side of Mankato.
Bill Freitag is leading the project along Madison Avenue, south and east of the new Mankato Travel Center truck stop.
He and business partner Dan Hawkes brought the first new commercial condos to Mankato about five years ago when they built Mankato Commercial Condos on South Victory Drive just south of Stadium Lane.
These have been a hit, with the individual units being bought or leased by people who want garage space and an attached small office while building a new business that may have started as a home based business. Renters include businesses like landscapers who need a place to store trailers and equipment and have office space to work from.
The new ones under construction are a clad version of the first condos he built, with metal siding.
“These are all-steel constructions with stone on the outside. They look nicer.”
Eight of the units will be completed by the end of this month and seven of the spaces are already committed for sale. Two more buildings will be erected next spring.
Eventually, the development will include 86 commercial condominiums in 14 buildings totaling 130,000 square feet.
“It should be a good project,” said Freitag. “There are all kinds of companies looking for spaces like this.”
More dining options in malls
River Hills Mall adds three grocery stores.
La Michoacana Mexican Ice Cream opens in the former Dairy Queen eatery. River City Eatery BBQ and Enchiladas El Gordo are located in the Food Court.
Mall Manager Robin Hanson said the mall has now filled eight of its 10 food slots.
The mall brought Halloween celebrations and trick-or-treating back this year after having to cancel them during the pandemic.
The mall has also signed on several tenants who rent seasonal spaces during the holiday season.