Vendor Feature: The Story Behind the Soup at North Aire Market

wild rice soup

What happens when two best friends decide to create easy-to-make, delicious food and share it with the world? You get North Aire Market!

Who are these friends you ask? You probably know them as Maggie and Mary - from Maggie and Mary’s award-winning soup lineup. Among this lineup is of course the delicious Minnesota favorite, Creamy Wild Rice (available in our Colorful Minnesota box). 

Backstory

Founders Mary Dodds and Maggie Mortensen met when they both missed the bus back to campus their freshman year of college in 1975. But what started as a mishap was actually a stroke of luck. After getting to know each other, they quickly became the kind of best friends that last a lifetime. 

Both daughters of entrepreneurs, Mary and Maggie always knew they wanted to own their own businesses. As Maggie puts it, “the dream of owning our own business was talked about often as we walked across campus those days.” But at the time there weren’t many substantial opportunities for women in the business world. 

When they graduated, they both went into their chosen careers to get real-world experience. Meanwhile, the dream of owning a business simmered.

Flash forward to 1987 when things started lining up for the duo to start up their dream business. But you know the saying about best-laid plans. On October 19, 1987, three weeks after they borrowed money from a local bank, the stock market crashed and the bank called their loan. But the two besties had planned and saved and still were able to start up North Aire Market despite the Black Monday collapse. 

Today

Thirty-four years later, the Shakopee-based North Aire Market market is still going strong and living the mission of “creating quality food for real people.”    

The company’s biggest seller is their line of national award-winning dry soup mixes, but they also produce dips, appetizers, desserts, and beverage mixes.

Honors and Awards

  • 2011 Winner - 6 Design/Packaging Awards, including a Gold Addy
  • 2008 Winner - SCAA Best New Food Product
  • 2001 Finalist - NASFT Outstanding Pasta, Rice, Bean or Grain 
  • 1997 Winner - Gourmet Retailer’s Aisle by Aisle Competition 
  • 1995 Winner - NASFT Outstanding Pasta, Rice, Bean or Grain 
  • 1995 Finalist - NASFT Outstanding Pasta, Rice, Bean or Grain

Values and Culture

Maggie and Mary have set a down-to-earth tone for their business. Just check out their “strict” dress code: “No blue suits, pantyhose, or high heels are allowed anywhere within 30 feet of the building’s perimeter.”

More seriously, they honor their relationships with their customers, co-workers and vendors. They believe that integrity, fairness, humor, and hard work needs to be incorporated into everything they do. 

Learn More

Find out more about Maggie and Mary’s story on their FaceBook page or website.

Maggie and Mary’s Creamy Wild Rice Soup is available in our Colorful Minnesota Box!