Ann Yin of Local D’Lish
“A little general store that could feed a community — but with a focus on the food and where it comes from,” says Ann Yin, describing her local food store Local D’Lish. And since September 2008, Local D’Lish has been just that to Minneapolis’s North Loop community. Yin then speaks of the road that led her to open Local D’Lish, a road that started several time zones away in China.
While living in Wuhan, China for six months in 2006, Yin engaged in the traditional custom of shopping daily at the market to purchase ingredients for that day’s meals. During this time, she got to know the vendors who made the tofu, spices, and other goods she purchased. They soon would recognize her and, upon her approach, would begin to package up her normal order. In building these relationships she describes feeling a “connection with the food — trusting it.”
Upon her return in early 2007, Yin was inspired to share the feeling she’d discovered while abroad. She and her husband, Yulin, had previously spoken of opening a business together, so now with a concept in mind they set out to make it happen. Targeting downtown Minneapolis, they found their location and the concept soon came to life.
Local D’Lish is full of goods ranging from vegetables to sauces to meat to spices sourced from “small, local, quality food makers.” Yin has visited many of the sites where the food is made, witnessing the “dedication, care, and passion [that they have] about what they are making.” She passes this experience along to her customers, many of whom she knows by name, through her cheerful customer service and deep knowledge of the products. Whether it’s fresh goods or packaged, Yin speaks to products and even gives suggestions to serve (see below for some recommendations).
Although Local D’Lish is a small store, Yin is “trying hard to make the prices fair.” She compares the prices for her products to her competition, saying that she’s most similar to the co-ops. This pricing allows some of her regular customers to practice as she did in China, shopping for their grocery needs at Local D’Lish first and then supplementing when necessary elsewhere.
Because most vendors are local, the store is able to receive the freshest products possible and the ‘shop daily’ model complements the store’s delivery schedule, which promises something new arriving each day of the week. Bread is delivered daily, microgreens from DragSmith Farms arrive Tuesdays along with produce, Wednesday is milk day from Castle Rock Dairy, Thursday brings fresh chicken (butchered just the day before) from Callister Farm, and the week ends on Friday with trout from Star Prairie Trout Farm and eggs from SunBarn Farm. Wednesdays and Saturdays are also sweet with cupcakes, brownies, and French macaroons made with locally sourced ingredients arriving from Sweets Bakeshop.
Furthering her accessibility to customers, Yin also runs a booth at the Mill City Farmers Market on Saturday mornings where she sells milk, butter, fresh chicken, bison, and dry goods. Local D’Lish also hosted the Mill City Winter Farmers Market and plans to do so again next year.
Yin plans to offer classes at the store, starting in June. Topics will include “How to Get the Most Out of Your CSA Membership,” “Cooking in Seasons,” “Raw Foods,” and “Eating Healthy.” Look for more information to be posted on the Local D’Lish website.
Suggested pairings from Ann Yin of Local D’Lish:
Star Prairie Trout served with Lucille’s Kitchen Garden’s Garlic Pepper Jelly
Fresh Callister Farm’s chicken barbecued with one of Spooky’s BBQ sauces
DragSmith Farm’s microgreens dressed lightly with olive oil and vinegar (she recommends vinegars from the Golden Fig)
Angelina’s Kitchen’s pre-made meals of homemade pastas and sauces
Learn more about this business in The Heavy Table’s Atlas of Ethical Eating and Drinking.