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Get your spirits up at Seven Sisters -- New liquor store opens on Highway 59 south

From left, Crystal Piekarski,Corey Maple, Steve Larsen and Jay Malstrom are part of the crew running Seven Sisters Spirits, the newest liquor store in the area. It is located on Highway 59, south of Detroit Lakes about seven miles.1 / 2
A wine tasting bar was built in Seven Sisters out of corks and various beer taps. The liquor store is offering wine tastings every Thursday-Saturday. They will also host craft beer tastings from time to time. This weekend kicks off the grand opening celebration with both tastings.2 / 2

When customers walk into Seven Sisters Spirits, they shouldn't expect, well, seven sisters greeting them at the door. (Which has been questioned already.)

Instead, customers should expect a selection of craft beer and wine that rivals any liquor store from here to the Twin Cities.

Located about seven miles out of Detroit Lakes on Highway 59 south, co-owner Corey Maple said there are 2,500-3,000 varieties of wine and 300-plus varieties of craft beer.

"It's a lot of what you just can't find here," he said.

Some of the product they have to go get because vendors don't even deliver to this area, he added.

With a wide variety of beverages and a log building that anyone traveling Highway 59 will notice, seven Sisters Spirits has had a successful soft opening, and owners and staff are preparing for the grand opening this Thursday through Saturday.

Different plan in the beginning

When siblings Brad, Corey, Jay Malstrom and Melissa (Malstrom) Rensch and friend Corey Maple decided last year to open a liquor store, it wasn't a new idea for them.

"Brad and I talked about it for 10 years," Jay Malstrom said of his brother. "It seemed recession proof."

After the 2010 census came back and Detroit Lakes' population still hadn't hit 10,000 -- which would end the city's ability to hold the capitalizing card on liquor stores in the city limits -- the owners decided to find a new location.

Malstrom Realty was located where Seven Sister Spirits is, and the group talked about just remodeling the 1,000-square-foot building.

"Then we realized the beer cooler would be bigger than the building," Maple said with a laugh.

So instead of a remodel, they leveled the building and started fresh, erecting a log building that fits in with the feel of the lakes surrounding the area. The trees they had to remove on the property even became a part of the building.

"Guaranteed, this is the best looking liquor store in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Texas -- OK, I don't know about Texas," Maple said with a laugh.

"It turned out much better than I could have dreamed," he added. "It's off the beaten path, so we wanted to make it a destination location."

The surrounding lakes also contributed to the namesake of the new liquor store.

Legend has it that a farmer named area lakes -- Sallie, Melissa, Maud, Lizzy, Ida, Eunice and Lida -- after his seven daughters.

"It's an old legend. We can't prove it though," he said.

Before deciding on a name though, Jay Malstrom said they had a list of 30 possibilities that just didn't fit.

"As soon as he (Corey Malstrom) said it, we stopped and knew it was right," Maple said.

When building the liquor store, the owners used local products and people, from the contractor to the wood, the animal mounts to the floatplane hanging from the ceiling.

The liquor store features a loft that is open for community events of any sort. Maple said they had a group of 25 women in for a wine tasting one day and used the room. He said a Bridge club could meet there if they wished -- virtually any group that the space can hold can utilize it.

"We want to be very community orientated," Jay Malstrom said.

There is also a large deck outside that will be used in the warmer months for wine tastings.

Maple said the building alone should help to dispel the stigma that surrounds liquor stores.

"You don't have to be embarrassed about coming in and shopping."

Selection of beverages

The cold beer in Seven Sisters Spirits is showcased in 23 cooler doors, and there are shelves of craft beers where customers can build their own six packs, picking one bottle of six different beers if they wish.

"Zorbaz pioneered craft beer, but you couldn't buy it anywhere," Maple said.

For the wine display, Maple said they arranged the wines by country and type. When people come in and ask for a merlot, they aren't really learning anything about where the wine came from. Now they can.

Seven Sisters hosts wine tastings every Thursday and Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

There is also a value wall of wine, where all the wine in that location is $8.99 to $12.99 per bottle. Customers can then grab six bottles for $60.

"The inventory is as unique as the experience," Maple said.

Emphasis on customer service

"Our No. 1 objective is customer service, taking care of the customer and providing the best in the industry," Maple said.

He said the huge inventory and beautiful building contribute to customer satisfaction, but it's the extras like helping people with their purchase out to the car if needed, a free bag of ice with each purchase and the wine and beer tastings that will keep customers coming back.

They also have 1919 root beer on tap for the kids that come in with adults.

"We need to take care of them while parents shop," Maple said.

To help with the customer service, and the business as a whole, the owners hired Steve Larsen as general manager and Crystal Piekarski as assistant general manager.

Maple said that Larsen's "combo of experience and the fact that he knows everyone in the area" will certainly add to the business' success.

The business will be open year round, and the group said they will participate in anything to promote Detroit Lakes and the surrounding communities because this area thrives due to the lakes and the success of local businesses.

"We're still going to be a part of the community even though we're seven miles out," Larsen said.

The more people that come to Detroit Lakes, the better it is for the community as a whole, Maple added.

"My roots are in Moorhead, but I've always been to the lake every summer," he said. "I want to plant a few more roots here and this is a great opportunity."

Though they've been open almost three weeks, they did it quietly to make sure the glitches were worked out before the grand opening this weekend. The group has been happy with the number of walk-ins thus far and is ready for the summer rush to the lakes area.

"It's just a quick little detour" off Highway 10, Maple said.

Seven Sisters Spirits is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.