Ingebretsen's, 1601 E Lake St, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Address: 1601 Lake Stwarning.png"St" is not in the list of possible values (Avenue, Street, Road, Alcove, Alley, Bay, Boulevard, Circle, Close, Court, Crescent, Crossing, Curve, Drive, Estate, Estates, Farm, Farms, Freeway, Glen, Green, Harbor, Heights, Highway, Hill, Island, Key, Landing, Lane, Loop, Mall, Motorway, Park, Parkway, Pass, Path, Place, Plaza, Point, Ridge, Route, Row, Rue, Run, Skyway, Spur, Square, Terrace, Throughway, Trail, Turnpike, Viaduct, View, Way, Other) for this property. E
Minneapolis, MN
Hennepin County, MN
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Current Function: Business

Minneapolis Hennepin

National Register of Historic Places Information

Ingebretsen’s: From Model Market to Ethnic Institution

The story of the Ingebretsen family’s store on Lake Street reflects the larger changes that have occurred in American consumer culture throughout the twentieth century. As a result of its willingness to adapt to the changing desires of consumers, Ingebretsen’s has become a symbol of the enduring cultural legacy of Scandinavian Americans in the Twin Cities.

Immigrant Entrepreneur In 1921, a young Norwegian immigrant, Charles Ingebretsen, opened a meat market, which he named The Model Market. For many years, his meat market served the predominantly Scandinavian neighborhoods near Bloomington and Lake Street. As the economy changed, chain stores developed as competition for small neighborhood proprietors. The Model Market was forced to rely on its shared ethnic bonds and neighborhood involvement in order to survive.

Rediscovering Roots

The 1960s and 70s ushered in a new era in American life. Many changes occurred in these tumultuous decades, the most important of which was a shift in the cultural attitude towards embracing individuality and diversity. This created an atmosphere where second and third generation immigrants began to explore their ethnic heritage. One way that people chose to express their ethnicity was through consumption of traditional ethnic foods and products. In response to this heightened interest in ethnicity, The Model Market opened a gift shop selling traditional Scandinavian crafts and clothing and changed its name to Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian center. In conjunction with the increased Scandinavian presence in the store, Ingebretsen’s began to offer classes on topics ranging from Norwegian needlepoint to Scandinavian cooking.



Lake and Lutefisk: The Ingebretsens at the Intersection of Past and Present
An interview with Julie Ingebretsen, granddaughter of the founder and current store manager

When did your family come to Lake Street? When my grandpa came here in 1915 or so, he started out on the West Bank on Cedar and Riverside—that’s of course where most of the Scandinavian immigrants settled. He owned a few different businesses in South Minneapolis, including this one in 1921.

Anyway, we landed here on Lake in 1921. The family lived nearby, down by the bridge, on Lake Street early on and 38th and Bloomington. When my dad went to high school in the 1930s they lived in Edina. They moved up there probably as soon as they could. So he mostly grew up out there, but they still had the store.

How did you begin working in the family business? Well, in 1974 I was sort of between jobs. My dad and his partner decided to buy the building and open a gift shop. So the meat market was where it is now, with this storefront, but they bought this space and remodeled it. So then they asked me if I wanted to run this gift shop and my response was, “eh, why not.”

How does the store celebrate Christmas? If it weren’t for Christmas we wouldn’t be here. It’s huge. I mean, it’s huge in the general marketplace but it’s especially huge, I think, for Scandinavians: it’s a very traditional time. We have a lot more of everything. Our big focus is on the traditions, keeping the traditions alive, and teaching people about them.

How has Lake Street itself affected Ingebretsens’? Way, way, way back when there were streetcars, that was a big reason why we were here. I think, that’s why Lake Street is what it is, and the successful businesses were close to the transfer points. The decline mostly affected businesses that were replicated elsewhere, like a hardware store. If you have a hardware store close by, why come here? If you’re one of those places that didn’t exist anywhere else, you were okay. This is all in retrospect. It’s not as if we sat down and said, “O.K., here’s our plan.”

What are the benefits of owning a historically important business on Lake Street? It reminds me of how important we are to this small space. I’ve become real aware of that, how much of an anchor we are. Things keep changing around us and we’ve stayed here and not changed very much at all. I think it’s important neighborhoods have some stability, whatever it might be. People come in and they love the stuff and the atmosphere and they liked being treated personally and I’m very proud of that.

Memories and stories


I think that no matter how long ago a person’s ancestors immigrated to the United States they will always be curious, and have a desire to learn about where they came from. Here at our store we try to provide people with the tools to learn about and express their Scandinavian heritage.
Julie Ingebretsen, granddaughter of the founder and current store manager

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