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Army veteran in Bismarck promotes community while selling sweets



Bismarck, North Dakota – Bismarck’s sweet delicacies are being served by an army veteran who is also getting to know the locals.

Owner Mike Iken has been selling sweets at Dakota Nuts-N-Candy in Bismarck for eight years. Iken has been a resident of Bismarck since 1996, and the inspiration for the confectionery shop originated from observing the gaps in the downtown area. Additionally, he intended to develop a solution to the generational divide.

“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.

Iken worked with at-risk children and their families as a mental health counselor for more than 20 years before he even considered starting a confectionery company. Additionally, he spent four years in the Army serving our nation.

“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 offers a wide variety of goods, including candies you might recall eating as a child, mixed nuts, and chocolate. He has acquired a sweet tooth for a particular confectionery as a result of being exposed to so much of it over the years.

“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.

In addition to selling candy, Iken’s store serves as a gathering spot for locals. Iken is from Boston, so it’s practically like Cheers Bar there, where everyone knows your name. He’s had the chance to engage with and get to know his regular clients.

“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.

Iken is always appreciative that you visited. Iken, a proprietor of a small business, emphasizes the significance of consumers shopping locally.

“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.

Be sure to stop by and say hello to Iken the next time you’re in downtown Bismarck, or give him a wave and grin if you pass him outside his shop.

The shop is located at 218 N 4th Street.