A Little Bit of Scandinavia in the Northland
Northland Uncovered: Bergquist Imports- Scandinavian gift items
CLOQUET, Minn. – Minnesota has the largest population of Scandinavian Americans in the United States.
Put a little bit of Scandinavia in every home in america- that’s the Bergquist motto since 1948.
“Our house was always full of beautiful Scandinavian gift items, so i grew up with them in the home,” Bergquist owner Barry Bergquist said.
Barry Bergquist’s parents got the idea to open shop from a relative visiting from Sweden.
“When one of them came over he said, ‘Margaret and Richard you should import things from Sweden ’cause there are so many swedes in Minnesota they would love to buy our gift items,'” Bergquist said.
The Bergquists packed their bags, flew to Sweden and bought as much as they could to bring back with them and sell in the states.
“We have all sorts of things in our gift shop from glassware to crystal, t–shirts, books,” Bergquist said.
The ‘Scandinavian gift items’ were popular all over Minnesota.
“Sweden is very well known for its crystal and as well some of the wood carvings from Norway is also a very popular item,” Bergquist said.
And people came to recognize the giant Swedish symbol standing right out front.
“It’s a 15 foot tall dala horse. Looks exactly like those carved dala horses from Sweden,” Bergquist said.
Barry and Vivian Bergquist took over the business in 1980 hoping to continue showing the Northland their roots for years to come.
“If you can fulfill a need that somebody wants, some piece of crystal, a piece that we sell here, a sweater or even a pair of stockings, and they want it for themselves or they want it as a gift item, I know I’ve done my job,” Bergquist said.
Since its start, Berguist Imports has grown into two separate businesses- the retail store and a wholesale outlet selling to companies nationwide.