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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published November 24 2013

A sugary conspiracy? Woman’s bakery shares building with her husband’s dental office

FOSSTON, Minn. - On Friday, Melinda Sandwick opened Althea’s Cakery, which specializes in cupcakes with sugar-laden frosting. Her business shares a building with husband Todd Sandwick’s dental practice.

At earlier Althea’s Cakery operations in neighboring Bagley and Bemidji and during the wait for Althea’s opening here, Melinda has received good-natured teasing from customers who wonder whether her sweets are drumming up cavity-filling business for hubby.

“Quite a few people have mentioned it,” Melinda said. “It is ironic, for sure.”

The two laugh about the ribbing, but also insist that the side-by-side businesses are not hypocritical.

“It’s about moderation (in sugar intake) and brushing teeth,” Todd said. “It’s all about getting in the habit of oral hygiene.”

They’re not just giving lip service to oral hygiene. On Althea’s front counter, next to the cash register, is a plastic glass full of free, disposable toothbrushes for customers.

“With the toothbrushes, in essence, I’m actually helping,” Melinda said.

There also is some cross-marketing involved. In addition to the free toothbrushes at Althea’s, the dental practice will have complimentary cupcakes on its counter, as a way to spread word of the fledgling business.

“We’re having some fun with it,” Melinda said.

Todd has had his Fosston practice since 1995. The couple married five years ago, with Melinda operating an Althea’s Cakery, named after her grandmother, for a combined three years in Bagley and Bemidji. Weary of the 45 miles of travel to Bemidji from their rural Fosston home, she moved the business here.

The two-business building along U.S. Highway 2 provides a boost to the city, Mayor Jim Offerdahl said.

“It was an empty lot and now it’s a tax-producing property,” Offerdahl said. “And, any business, even if it’s one or two people, is important to a town of 1,500 people.”

Todd likes the setting, too.

“I have the nicest-smelling dental office in the state, if not the country,” he said.