At one time there were a half dozen or so Happy Dan's Convenience Stores located in the Mankato area, now there is only one. It's a daily destination for many as it sits on the Corner of Victory and Hoffman. In this week's Hometown Business Connection, in partnership with Connect Business Magazine, Lisa Cownie looks at the man behind that iconic Mankato business.

Through some real estate deals fifteen years ago, Bruce Keckhafer became the owner of the Village East Shopping Center. Bruce says, "Mankato is a wonderful place to raise a family." Sensing Mankato was a special place, he moved his wife and two children here ten years ago and when the tenants of the Happy Dan's convenience store decided to move on, Bruce and his wife decided to take it over rather than board it up or wait for a new tenant to move in. 

Bruce says, "How hard can that be we said (laughs) we learned it was a lot of work. It took some time to get shelves filled with product that customers wanted. But that's what we did, we put in time and we put in the work." And over the years as other vacancies arose in the shopping center, Bruce would come up with his own ideas to fill them. Bruce says, "We decided some years ago the next time a space opened up, we wanted something that was going to stay in there for a long term. We went to customers, people in the neighborhood and said, what would be helpful."

After that input, he's added a Laundromat, and liquor store that features local craft beers and wine. Bruce is also in the business of helping the community he now calls home. He's involved in the Tapestry Project which helps new American families to their new neighborhood and he takes part in the Cops and kids program, He is also a big supporter of Mankato east High School, where both his children attended. Bruce says, "In this end of town we are able to experience and enjoy the good neighbors that we have, refugees that come to our state and town we help out where we can with them."

For Hometown business Connection, I'm Lisa Cownie.