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Nesbitt's finds sweet spot: Wisconsin nursery and eatery buys Red Wing Confectionery

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When Leah Nesbitt first heard that Kathy Boos was interested in selling Red Wing Confectionery, she said buying the downtown business didn't immediately cross her mind.

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In fact, Leah, who helps run the family-owned Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt's Nursery near Prescott, said her original thought was to purchase some of the confectionery's kitchen equipment.

"I didn't think (buying it) was a realistic thing," Leah said.

"We weren't really looking," added Leah's father Leon Nesbitt.

But when Leah, Leon and Boos began talking about the equipment, talk soon turned to the Nesbitts purchasing the confectionery.

"We immediately started crunching numbers and trying to figure it out," Leah said.

Nesbitt's officially took over June 1, with the family purchasing the business from Boos, who will continue to make chocolates that will be sold at both the confectionery and at the Oasis Eatery.

Boos originally announced early this year that she would be selling the retail portion of her business in order to spend more time with her family. However, Boos said she will stay on as an employee of Nesbitts' to help train staff members in chocolate-making and help the transition go smoothly.

"We think she's a fabulous chocolate maker," Leah said. "We're really glad she's staying on."

In addition, some of the Nesbitts' breads, pastries, pies, muffins, biscotti and other baked goods will be sold in the confectionery. The whole point is to bring in "just more people" to both the store and to the eatery and nursery.

"We're really going to cross-pollinate," Leon said. "We can create some synergy and let people know more about what we do there (at the eatery)," Leon said.

"To me, Red Wing Confectionery is a satellite for us," Leah added.

The space that the confectionery is located in will continue to be owned by Indigo Properties, and the Nesbitts will lease the space. The Red Wing Confectionery will keep its name as well, though Leon said they will eventually add "and baked goods" to its signage.

Leon added that none of the confectionery's employees will be laid off and Nesbitt's has hired seven new employees to help staff the Red Wing store.

All of the products sold in the confectionery -- just like all of the products at the Oasis Eatery -- will be what Leah calls "localicious:" high quality, artisanal products that are sourced locally.

"Whether you're buying a tree from us or eating lunch, we're going to obtain it locally," Leah said.

"We try to use all local products," Leon added.

In addition to the chocolates and baked goods, the confectionery will continue to sell ice cream and coffee. But, Leah said, it will be "better coffee and ice cream."

St. Paul-based Izzy's will provide the ice cream and the coffee will be from Morningstar, a Minneapolis-based company that sources fair-trade organic coffee from Brazil. The confectionery will continue to offer a full menu of coffee drinks.

Eventually, Leah said they would like to add to-go lunch items like wraps, chips, sandwiches and possibly quiches to the confectionery's products.

In addition, with the purchase of the Red Wing location, Leah said Oasis Eatery will be able to expand its catering business -- which offers a full breakfast and lunch menu -- into Red Wing.

"We want to be a place for people to come to for catering," she said.

The Nesbitt staff is currently working to get all of the confectionery's new products in place. Leon said the Red Wing store should have its full product line stocked by July 1, and a grand opening will follow later this summer.

The details

What: Red Wing Confectionery

Where: 323 Main St.

Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

More information: 651-388-0174, 715-792-2676, nesbittsnursery.com

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Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.
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