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Let’s Eat: Dawson General Store, a one stop shop on Dawson Road

The former Leppanen’s store has a new look and new owners.

Jesica McNabb and her husband Mike, his father Mike McNabb and Jesica’s sister-in-law Nancy Freeborn bought the store and gas station on the corner of Dawson Road and Mapleward Road and reopened it as Dawson General Store on Feb 18, 2021.

“As COVID went on, people are looking for businesses that are going to have staying power, allowed to be operational, allowed to bring something into the community,” explains Jesica.

They have “everything you’d expect from an old fashioned general store,” she says. Other than gas pumps, there are basic groceries and some hardware, but Dawson General Store’s specialty is the wide variety of locally-produced food available.

“We have 28 local vendors right now,” Jesica says, adding that that number keeps growing. There is coffee from Rose N Crantz and Wolfhead Coffee, milk and dairy products from Slate River Dairy, and hot sauces from Heartbeat Hot Sauce and Hooligan Fuel. There are frozen pizzas from not one, but two local pizza places; Both Hands Wood Fired Pizza and Bakery and Eat Local.

“There’s fresh bread five days a week from four different local bakeries,” she says. “We get bread from Pinetree Catering three days a week and it’s still warm when it comes in. It’s so good with a hunk of Thunder Oak Gouda.”

There are also skin care items from Bare Organics and fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from local and regional farms.

“[Customers] can access all these local vendors, a lot of which you can usually only get at the Thunder Bay Country Market,” says Jesica. “But we’re open seven days a week.”

“We carry stuff that we want in our house,” Jesica explains. “My husband and I live out here, and I grew up out here. I know what’s a pain in the butt to run out of, and what you don’t want to have to run into town to get. [We have] what’s convenient, what makes your life a little easier, what’s delicious.”

If you want to know what’s the latest local goodie they have, check their Facebook page, which is updated daily.

They are currently working on installing a kitchen, hoping to start serving hot food for takeout this spring. Breakfast burritos for breakfast, pizza for lunch (using crusts from the Bakeshop on Boundary) and fried chicken, waffles and wedges for supper are planned.

Jesica says she hopes to bring in a soft serve ice cream machine and picnic tables for the summer. “I’d like to make more use of the space surrounding the store,” she says. “It’s a fairly large property. So we’d like to use the space to serve the community.”

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