We typically refrain from commenting on politics at our store, Ingebretsen's. Our policy has always been to respect varying points of view - as it should be.

As many of you may know, our family is very closely connected to our own immigrant story, and because of that we feel strongly about the importance of making a statement of support for the immigrants helping to shape our community. Ninety-five years ago our market was opened to serve the specific culinary needs of the vibrant Scandinavian immigrant community that surrounded us, much like the bodegas and halal groceries that surround us today.

Our relatives began their lives here with limited to no ability to speak English, with few resources, fiercely dependent on each other's support for survival and sense of family and community. They held tight to the traditions that helped them feel connected to distant homes. They dedicated themselves to learning, to growing, and to participating in the health and prosperity of our neighborhood and our democracy - a sacred tradition that extends today through the fourth generation of Ingebretsens.

Today, while the countries of origin of immigrants have changed, the same basic principals of starting a life in America have not. It is a long transition, it is challenging and it is filled with hope. Over the past 30 years, we have had the good fortune to see our community enriched beyond measure by the presence, dedication and big hearts of our Latinx and East African neighbors, and many other cultures. We are continually struck by how similar our relatives' immigrant story is to many we hear today.

We are so thankful to continue to be part of this diverse group of new, not so new, and indigenous Americans who truly want a happy and healthy life for themselves and their families. They are working hard to make that happen. So in the wake of an undeniably divided vote in this nation's presidential election last November, today our reality of connection feels important to share.

What is truly great about this country is the opportunity to live and work side by side with so many. Let's not miss trying to connect to the myriad of things we have in common, even when it feels uncomfortable, and especially when we think we disagree. Let's not forget to see the beauty and potential in one another. Let's always strive for compassion. Let's never forget kindness.

Julie Ingebretsen is a fourth generation business owner of Ingebretsen's Scandinavian Gifts on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Anna Bloomstrand is her daughter. www.ingebretsens.com

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