Army Veteran in Bismarck sells sweet treats while focusing on community

Published: May. 28, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - An Army veteran in Bismarck is serving up sweet treats, while also getting to know members of the community.

At Dakota Nuts-N-Candy in Bismarck, owner Mike Iken has been selling sweet treats for eight years. Iken has lived in Bismarck since 1996 and the idea for the candy store came from looking at what downtown didn’t have. He also wanted to create something that could help the generation gap.

“What do grandparents have in common with their grandkids? How can they have a positive interaction? They can come here and talk about the old-fashioned candies, and that’s a shared experience,” said Iken.

Before Iken even thought about the candy business, he was a mental health counselor for over 20 years working with at-risk youth and their families. He also served our country in the Army for four years.

“It was interesting, it was fun. I did 2 ½ years in Germany and 1 ½ years stateside. It was nice to get out and see the world on Uncle Sam’s dime and experience some interesting things,” said Iken.

Iken sells everything from mixed nuts to chocolate to candy that you might remember when you were a kid. Being around all of this candy over the years, he has developed a sweet tooth for a specific one.

“I like the sizzlin’ sweet cracker mix, that’s my take home for right now. It kind of cycles through every now and then, you try something different. It’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child, everything has its time,” said Iken.

Iken’s store isn’t just a place to buy candy, it is also a place where people stop by and catch up. It’s almost like Cheers Bar in Boston where everyone knows your name, and that’s where Iken is originally from. He’s had the opportunity to get to know his regular customers and form connections.

“We have a core group of regulars that come in, and I’m like, ‘Hey, Susie we have your…,’ and then walk over and grab them for them. They become family, you get to visit with them, find out how their kids are doing, if they are graduating high school this year, what’s going on. It’s really nice,” said Iken.

And Iken is always glad that you came. Being a small business owner, Iken stresses the importance of people shopping local.

“If they don’t shop local, they are going to lose the community tax base. If you spend local, that gets turned around and stays local. Instead of spending money that goes out of state, it stays here,” said Iken.

The next time you are in downtown Bismarck, be sure to stop by and meet Iken, or if you see him outside of his store acknowledge his friendly smile and wave.

For more information on Iken’s store, click here. The store’s address is 218 N 4th Street.