Rosalie and Mike Helgeson stand in front of a Christmas tree in Main Attractions. The Helgeson's owned the Lake Mills gift shop since it opened 20 years ago. --Drew Claussen/Albert Lea Tribune
Rosalie and Mike Helgeson stand in front of a Christmas tree in Main Attractions. The Helgesons have owned the Lake Mills gift shop since it opened 20 years ago. -- Drew Claussen/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Lake Mills gift shop gets busy during the Christmas season

Published 11:04am Thursday, December 19, 2013

LAKE MILLS — Main Attractions was definitely part of Lake Mills’ recent revitalization of its downtown area, but the store is by no means new.

The gift shop has been open on Lake Mills’ Main Street for the past 20 years and was opened by Rosalie and Mike Helgeson, both from Lake Mills.

“Originally we were into buying antiques and we wanted to start our own business,” Rosalie Helgeson said. “So that was 1994, and a building came open so we settled in.”

The shop is at 221 W. Main St. in Lake Mills. Helgeson said she and Mike, who also farms near Lake Mills, put in time during the week at the business, along with another full-time employee. She said she was also looking for a part-time worker.

The shop almost has too many products to list and is broken up into sections. Examples are Norwegian, Christmas and man cave. Helgeson said that popular products tend to change over time, but some seem to always be in demand.

“I’d say the Willow Tree angels and those kind of items, we’ve had them for a long time,” she said. “A lot of stores have dumped them or moved onto something else, but we’re still selling them. Every day we get orders for them.”

Helgeson said business has been pretty steady throughout the years but added it has improved since Lake Mills revitalized its downtown area.

“Our theater has been remodeled, and we have a couple new restaurants,” she said. “Since they all opened in the last year, our dollars are a lot better. It’s nice to see the changes through the year. We used to look across the street at a bunch of crappy buildings with awnings falling down and torn awnings ripping in the wind. We were like ‘will anything ever get done?’ And finally it did.”

Helgeson said they were especially busy during this holiday season. They never had a full-time employee before this year.

One could easily spend hours browsing the store’s sections on its two levels. There are items from holiday decor to home goods and candles to wine. They offer varieties of wine made in Iowa and representatives from the wine companies come do tastings at the store.

Main Attractions has a website,, which allows customers to browse and order some of what the store has to offer. The most popular function of the website, according to Helgeson, was the bridal registry that allows couples to go through the store and post what they would like to receive for wedding gifts on the website. Main Attractions has a Facebook page with more than 200 “likes.”


Main Attractions

Address: 221 W. Main St., Lake Mills

Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.

Phone: 641-592-1995