Created By: Coleman Memorial Museum
118 Main - Body Shop / Bjornstad Building / Ben Franklin
P.H. Bjornstad and Son established the first hardware store in Ellendale, in 1882, and became renowned for fitting and repairing horse harnesses, in addition to supplying the standard stock of hardware. They kept a busy store, and even had a church congregation in their building. In 1884 the Baptist Society was organized in Ellendale, and they held their early meetings in the hall above Bjornstad’s store until they were able to construct their own building.
Bjornstad’s first store was destroyed in the big 1916 fire, but a solid brick building was soon constructed, just to the hardware stock was kept in front, and the harness shop occupied a room at the back. In December 1919, the Mitchell Company, which had been operating a small hardware store on West Main, bought the business and moved to this building.
In 1935, Les Mertick bought the Bjornstad building and started a franchise of the Ben Franklin store. Ben Franklin was a prominent national chain selling dry goods and household items. In 1961 the business was moved just east, to what had been the Red Owl store (the present site of Mahler’s Village Variety). In 1964 Art and Ardys Fryslie purchased it, expanded it, and renamed it Village Variety.
In 2006, business partners Tokina McHarry and Valerie Wagner bought the building and created the Body Shop, a fitness center with modern workout equipment that is available to customers in early mornings and evenings.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Ellendale - Tour of the Core City