Dakota News, which distributes magazines and bestseller books from major publishers to mass market outlets in parts of the Midwest, is expanding into southern Minnesota and the greater Twin Cities market. The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company is taking on accounts previously serviced by Gopher News, which went out of business in December. Dakota News has leased part of the building in suburban Minneapolis in which Gopher News has been headquartered since it was founded as St. Marie's Gopher News in 1902. It has also hired six full-time managers and about 70 part-time merchandisers previously employed by Gopher News, who will continue to work out of Minnesota. Dakota News already employs 67 full-time and about 100 part-time merchandisers to service accounts in Iowa, eastern South Dakota and Nebraska., northwest Illinois, and southern Wisconsin

About 85% of Dakota News’ business is magazine distribution, and about 15% book distribution, a breakdown that company executives expect to remain the same even after acquiring Gopher News’ accounts.

Dakota News, which was founded in the 1920s as Olson News, already has begun servicing southern Minnesota and Twin Cities-area grocery stores, drug stores, hospital gift shops, and mom-and-pop stores that stock magazines and books. It is also servicing about 25% of the shops that carry books and magazines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. “About 30% of the [total] book-buying up there is at the airport,” Kevin Mitchell, Dakota News’ general manager, tell PW. Mitchell’s family has owned Dakota News for the past 60 years. Dakota News has also begun partnering with other regional distributors to service central and northern Minnesota accounts previously serviced by Gopher News.

“It’s a tough business right now,” Mitchell says, “We’re trying to right-size, and to make it as efficient as possible. It makes more sense to partner with someone already on the ground.”