Markella Smith, founder of The Dream Shop, shared her story behind the inspiration that led to opening up this North Minneapolis shop, and the importance of changing the landscape of marginalized communities. The grand opening of The Dream Shop occurred in the last weeks of August, in which I showed up to show love and ask the big “why?”
“We need positivity in our communities. I wanted to create a safe, positive space. We need that.”
Markella explained how some people were shocked by her choice of location for the shop, and that’s exactly why she chose the location. Located at the intersection of 38th and Fremont, Markella explains how at the center of her vision lives strength and community, not fear.
“Entrepreneurs from the community that often lack representation or the resources to foster their business can come and put their product in the shop and make a good profit.”
At the dream shop, entrepreneurs are able to come and have their product placed in her store; in which they get most of the profit. Markella expressed the importance of generosity and how the only thing that matters is generating wealth in her community. Markella also mentioned that wealth means more than money. It means well-being, and that’s the reason why The Dream Shop is more than a store–but a space for conversation, social connection, and healing. The percentage that comes out of vendors’ profit is solely for the sake of keeping the building open (rent) and to support the cost of community events.
“It’s about circulating wealth in our communities and holding space where people feel comfortable to show up, feel supported, and seen. I wanted to create a flow of trust and relationships in this space–values that are often broken down in communities like these.”
Markella’s 13 year old son was working the cash register when I stopped by. He briefly spoke on the hard work that went into bringing this vision forward, and how their family was very hands on in the whole process. Markella acknowledged the major help from her father, and also mentioned how the community was family during the whole process as well; volunteering to help with whatever, as needed.
“North Minneapolis is my home. I have sons that I don’t want to have to worry about being safe in their own Neighborhood. No one should have to worry about being safe here, we’re a community. I knew it had to start with me. With us. With the Northside.”
Markella Smith has successfully brought forth her vision. Full of unique, local products, and centered in creations from the community itself. If you are in Minneapolis and are interested in checking it out for yourself, I’m sure you’d feel a different side to the Northside. One that is kind, creative, loving, and resilient.