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Lucky Duck lands in the city on the pond

Located in the former Mill Pond Mercantile building in downtown New London, the 7,500-square-foot Lucky Duck is filled floor to ceiling with shelves of games, toys, puzzles, books and opportunities for hands-on play. There’s also hand-dipped ice cream, popcorn and old-fashioned sweet treats in the two-story toy store with a mission of fun.

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Jenna Bjerke and Josh Olson, are co-managers of Lucky Duck, which opened this summer in New London in the former Mill Pond Mercantile building. The store is filled with games, puzzles, toys, books, hand-dipped ice cream and other treats and is quickly becoming a retail tourist destination. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune
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NEW LONDON — For a town known as “the city on the pond,” it’s only appropriate that a business called Lucky Duck landed in New London.

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With a name like “Lucky Duck,” there’s no shortage of rubber duckies for sale. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune

Located in the former Mill Pond Mercantile building in downtown New London, the 7,500-square-foot Lucky Duck is filled floor to ceiling with shelves of games, toys, puzzles, books and opportunities for hands-on play. There’s also hand-dipped ice cream, popcorn and old-fashioned sweet treats in the two-story toy store with a mission of fun.

“We want it to be not just a place where you go to shop,” said Josh Olson, who manages the store along with his partner, Jenna Bjerke. “It’s more of an experience.”

The store, which opened in June, is quickly becoming a retail shopping destination drawing people from all over the region.

“It’s about coming in and having fun,” said Olson, emphasizing that the store carries “at least one item” that appeals to people ages “1 to 99.”

Lucky Duck, owned by Goose Group Inc., is modeled after a store called Goose Gang, located in Perham where the owners also operate a gift shop called Wild Goose and a kitchen and coffee shop called Nest.

When the Mill Pond Mercantile closed, Goose Group purchased the building and began taking down walls, opening up the basement and creating splashes of color in the well-lit, spacious building.

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The Lucky Duck, which opened this summer in New London, features board games, outdoor games, puzzles, toys, books, hand-dipped ice cream and other treats. Demonstrations and hands-on opportunities to play with the toys and games is making this new store a popular destination shopping location. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune

Using market research and past success at their Perham stores, the owners filled the shelves at Lucky Duck with new and nostalgic board games, well-built toys like Brio and Playmobil, adult and children’s puzzles, outdoor games — including a selection of American Ninja Warrior equipment — and popular Go Pop! fidget toys that Bjerke said fly off the shelves.

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The response has been positive

“It’s crazy every single day,” said Bjerke. “Seven days a week we are packed full, from open to close.”

The store is open seven days a week — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during fall and winter months and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer.

“People are knocking on the doors at 10 a.m. when we open,” said Olson. “It’s going very, very well.”

They were confident in their market research, “but we didn’t realize it would work out as well as it would,” he said.

While a toy store is clearly a place for kids, Bjerke said a lot of their customers are grandparents who say, “Oh my gosh, I had this when I was a kid,” while strolling through the aisles and shelves of games, puzzles and candy.

As part of the tourism draw, Lucky Duck is home to the International Duck Hall of Fame, with such celebrities as Donald Duck and the sassy Aflac duck as the original inductees.

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The Lucky Duck, which opened this summer in New London, features board games, outdoor games, puzzles, toys, books, hand-dipped ice cream and other treats. Demonstrations and hands-on opportunities to play with the toys and games is making this new store a popular destination shopping location. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune

As the fall season approaches, the store will be adding Halloween and other festival activities, followed by winter toys, like sleds, snow paint and snowball making gear, before Christmas.

They offer free gift wrapping year-round.

The store currently has three full-time and four part-time employees.

After opening up Lucky Duck, the Goose Group also purchased the Happy Sol business and building next door and are also operating that popular, high-end clothing store.

Olson and Bjerke said the company is excited to be an active part of the New London community, and has heard from other businesses that they are also doing better since Lucky Duck came to town.

This story was originally published in the West Central Tribune's IMPACT edition on Oct. 23, 2021. More stories in this section can be found at https://issuu.com/westcentraltribune/docs/impact_2021

Related Topics: RETAILTOURISMNEW LONDON
Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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