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Inspiring Conversations with Neal Kielar of MidModMen+friends

Today we’d like to introduce you to Neal Kielar.

Hi Neal, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I usually tell people that we’re an “accidental business.” It started innocently enough when my partner and I moved into an amazing modern home. We brought along furniture that was perfect for the old place but just didn’t fit the new space. So we started to sell it and discovered we were pretty good at that. Then we went on the hunt for what we really wanted, with a focus on mid-century and Danish modern. This was a while ago and the pickings were good. Really good. We not only found pieces we wanted – and that my partner was skilled at refinishing – but lots of other things we didn’t need but just couldn’t leave behind. So we snatched up the extras and started to sell them as a side hustle. I had a full-time job that required a good bit of travel, but also had an irregular pattern – a lot of hurry up and wait. So I had time on my hands. My partner was self-employed and had lots of flexibility in his life. Oh, plus my background is in branding and marketing so I started to shape a brand around our offering. It snowballed to the point that we couldn’t do it the way we wanted as a part-time gig. So we opened a storefront, making a three-month pop-up commitment, and have been there for nine years. We evolved over time, upped our game and stayed buttoned up as a business. One of the best things we did was invite a small group of other aficionados to sell alongside us. That’s where the +friends in our name comes from.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I have a lot of business experience and got to work with people who really knew what they’re doing. So my experience also has been well-rounded. And both my partner and I are super pragmatic and work hard to not take on more than we can handle. Our growth has been incremental but also steadily heading in the right direction. There definitely were bumps in the road: the innate unpredictability of retail, sometimes a dry pipeline for inventory and the usual things a small business frets about. But we’ve always been self-funded so there was no outside pressure to redirect the business or grow too fast or compromise on quality. We’ve been really lucky, too, building great relationships with partners, vendors and inventory sources.

We’ve been impressed with MidModMen+friends, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
MidModMen+friends offers authentic mid-century, modern and made-in-Minnesota furniture and decor at its best. We hand-select vintage items and then clean, rejuvenate or restore each one according to need. The emphasis is always on quality. Plus, we feature local artisans and artists whose creativity matches our versatile style.

Essentially, we created the store that we wanted to shop in when we were customers. Buying vintage doesn’t have to be a gamble. We choose our pieces wisely and invest in them – restoration, reupholstery, cleaning – so our customers can buy with confidence. It’s a labor-intensive approach but it gets a result that we can feel proud of.

What makes you happy?
The whole darn business makes me happy! That and the fact that I don’t have to prepare, present or listen to a single PowerPoint presentation!

Pricing:

  • Value-priced for the quality
  • A range of prices that keep us accessible to many shoppers

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All photos copyright MidModMen.

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3 Comments

  1. Neal Kielar

    November 18, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    Many thanks for featuring local small businesses, organizations and change makers. Especially because you keep the articles in their own words. It’s an honor to be featured.

  2. Nathalie Wilson

    November 18, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    Love MidModMen+friends! Great to see Neal and Jon here

  3. Noah Gerding

    November 19, 2021 at 2:56 am

    Great article – thank you, and Neal and Jon are the best. We’ve re-homed many beautiful treasures and pieces from their store, large and small. We know when we visit them that it’s more than finding the item. We’ve always felt like they’re part of our family, and in more ways than simply having the piece in our home. They’re in the relationship business, and they care deeply about their business, partners, customers, and the community as a whole.

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