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New men’s clothing and gift store opens downtown

Albert Lean Austin Perkins has racked his brain for years about opening a business in the community. 

He and his wife, Miranda, often shop in the downtown boutiques but noticed there’s not much for men, with exception of a few things at the relatively new EJ’s Mercantile. 

“We needed a men’s store for women to buy stuff for men and for men to buy stuff,” he said. 

So about five months ago, they began an effort to open a new men’s clothing and gift shop and started remodeling the space at 119 S. Broadway — which formerly housed Country Tack Western Store and is now owned by Gilbert Johnson of The Chapel tattoo parlor next-door. They have updated everything from lighting and flooring and paint and worked through the COVID-19 pandemic to find vendors and order inventory. 

Two weeks ago they had a soft opening for their new store, Man Between the Lakes, which is a play on words of Albert Lea’s popular motto “Land Between the Lakes.” 

On Tuesday they had their grand opening, and Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors welcomed them to the chamber with a ribbon cutting. The couple said they had a steady flow of customers the whole day. 

“Everyone’s really happy to have a men’s store downtown,” Miranda Perkins said. 

The store offers men’s clothing, including casual activewear, fishing wear and an outdoor line, along with hats, men’s skin care products, Damascus handmade knives, wallets and Rollga fitness products, to name a few. 

“We have a little bit of everything,” Austin Perkins said. 

They also have art for sale by local artist Shane Taylor of Davinci’s Skillsaw.

They said their goal is to promote Midwest, local and made in the USA vendors, and they also have a few vendors whose products go toward giving back to various causes. For example, some of the proceeds of Devil-Dog products go to support the Wounded Warrior Project, and proceeds of ToadFish items go to support cleaning up coastal waters. 

Austin Perkins said his father and grandmother grew up in the Albert Lea area, and when his grandmother died 11 years ago, he and his family moved down to the family farm. The couple has three children, ages 6, 10 and 16. His wife grew up in the Austin area.

Austin Perkins said he previously worked at Alamco and also has farmed, and Miranda Perkins most recently worked through Mayo. 

They plan to work at the store full time and may hire a part-time staff member down the road, too. 

The couple said they are excited about their new location and look forward to when downtown events such as Wind Down Wednesday take place there again next year. 

“A lot of businesses have come and gone, and it’s so great to bring another business downtown,” Miranda Perkins said. 

They thanked the community for the support they have received thus far, along with other downtown business owners. 

“Everybody loves to see more businesses,” Austin Perkins said. 

Man Between the Lakes will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. It will be closed Sundays and Mondays. 

People who come into the shop this week can be entered into a raffle for gift certificates, and at the end of the week they will also give away one of Taylor’s art pieces.

The store can be reached at 373-1714.