Sasquatch and jerky fans rejoice.
Jerky maker Jack Link's has opened its new retail store in the skyway level of the recently renovated Target Center, and besides the walls of meat snacks, it offers a wide variety of campy Bigfoot-themed merchandise from sasquatch-emblazoned sweatshirts to a booze dispenser cut into a small log.
The 800-square-foot "Wild Side" store is a new concept for the Wisconsin-based meat snack company, which is known for its lineup of jerky flavors parked on the counters of convenience stores across the country.
The store is part of a larger branding effort by Jack Link's that includes new products, a major sponsorship of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx pro basketball teams and a soon-to-happen move into offices and research space across the street in Mayo Clinic Square.
"This is trying to immerse people into the experience of Jack Link's," said Tom "TD" Dixon, Jack Link's chief marketing officer. "You obviously see jerky but, more importantly, you see the way our brand comes to life."
With more than $1.2 billion in annual sales, Jack Link's is the country's largest beef jerky purveyor. Its advertisements, created by Minneapolis advertising agency Carmichael Lynch, have long been tied to its slogan to "feed your wild side" and its popular sasquatch monster mascot.
In recent years, it has contended with a growing number of companies making meat snacks.
Most of the merchandise in the store, from home decor to clothing apparel, has never been available before, Dixon said. If successful, Jack Link's plans to expand the brand store concept to other such markets as Las Vegas and Orlando.
The store, which had its soft opening Thursday, will offer a diverse selection of Jack Link's jerky along with new products and flavors, including fresh jerky cooked up at the new research kitchen.
The idea for the store is to be a test site for future products.
The Jack Link's store is one of the final touches on the $140 million revamp of Target Center.
As one of five chief sponsors of the Timberwolves and Lynx, Jack Link's paid a portion of the renovation.
The store will have extended hours during events and games at Target Center in addition to being open during the weekdays and Saturday.
Next month, employees will start moving into Jack Link's new offices at Mayo Clinic Square, which has space for about 300 workers. The first-floor research and development space, where staff can experiment with new products, is slated to be complete in March.
The company also plans a restaurant on the Hennepin Avenue and 6th Street corner of Mayo Clinic Square, but details are still being worked out.