Local matchmaker shares success storiesThe phrase “labor of love” is a cliché and is sometimes overused, but Jamestown resident Sharri Besednik said it fits her second career as a professional matchmaker.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
The phrase “labor of love” is a cliché and is sometimes overused, but Jamestown resident Sharri Besednik said it fits her second career as a professional matchmaker.
Besides serving as owner/manager of Jamestown home décor and antique shop Calamity Jane’s, Besednik has been a matchmaker in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for the past seven years with her dating service Dakota Dates.
She said the goal of Dakota Dates is to find a love match for everyone who uses her service — something she said she has successfully accomplished for about 70 couples since 2005, including four engagements in the past year alone.
Besednik said her service specializes in singles 40 years and older in addition to senior citizens. A one-year base membership runs for $195.
Based on member profiles and like characteristics, Besednik individually matches clients with one another.
“It’s such a rewarding thing when you’re able to put two people together and have it last,” Besednik said. “I’ve met so many good people and made lifelong friends who are so appreciative that I’ve been able to help them find love.”
Twenty marriages have resulted from the Dakota Dates matchmaking service, according to Besednik, who coined her own nickname “The Dakota Matchmaker,” upon starting the company.
Dakota Dates currently has about 100 active clients, with approximately 400 on file for having used the service in the past seven years.
While those numbers are merely a drop in the bucket compared to national, online dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony that have hundreds of thousands of registered members, Besednik said Dakota Dates offers its clients something larger companies simply cannot.
“You see the commercials about all the successes Match.com and those sites have had, but when someone’s struggling trying to find their match or just needs someone to talk to, those big websites don’t have anyone for its clients to go to,” she said. “But here, I talk to everyone individually, get to know these people and get a real feel for what they need and what they like.”
That was certainly the case for former Valley City, N.D., resident Christi Kracht, who said she tried online dating before joining Dakota Dates in July 2011.
At a social mixer Besednik held in September 2011, the now 49-year-old Kracht met now 54-year-old Jeff Enzminger of Jud, N.D.
“We had both tried online dating and discovered we had both been in many bad relationships over the years,” Kracht said. “When we met that night, though, it was pretty much an instant thing. We looked at each other across the room and were both like ‘Whoa!’”
The couple got engaged Dec. 23 and has since moved in together at Enzminger’s home in Jud. No wedding date has been set.
North Dakota reality show
Besednik’s matchmaking success even led to interest from Los Angeles area TV production company Fremantle Media last year that she said considered producing a North Dakota-based reality show.
Attempts to reach representatives from Fremantle who were familiar with the project were unsuccessful.
Ultimately, Besednik said, she and Fremantle representatives agreed in December to temporarily shut down discussions about the possible show.
“Reality shows want to see drama and that’s just really not what Dakota Dates is about,” Besednik said. “They wanted to see how the clients and I would react at a social mixer, so we left on a note that I would get back to them when we were ready for our next one of those.”
Besednik said the success stories she has been able to witness over the years are better than those on a reality show anyway.
Those stories include couples such as Rich Reiger, 49, and Megan Peck, 37, from Bismarck, who have been engaged for four months.
“I spent four years dating through Sharri’s service with her trying a lot of different matches along the way,” said Reiger, who heard about Dakota Dates through a TV ad more than four years ago.
Reiger said when Besednik finally matched him with Peck about eight months ago, he knew he had met the one.
“Sharri really took the time to understand what I wanted and while it didn’t work out with those other women, I could always count on her to try and provide a good match,” Reiger said.
Reiger and Peck are now expecting their first child, which Besednik said would mark the first baby resulting from a Dakota Dates match since she began the service in 2005.
Besednik said she has also been invited to an upcoming wedding for a couple she matched up last September. Kenya Knobloch, 37, Jamestown, and Jeff Shannon, 47, Ashley, N.D., were engaged July 1 after meeting through Dakota Dates.
“It sure worked for us. She pretty much was able to find the perfect match,” Knobloch said.
Shannon was divorced following an accident in December 2009 that resulted in him being in a coma for a short period of time, although Shannon said the divorce was already under way before the accident. He said he has since found love again with Knobloch, and Besednik said it has been a great joy watching him find happiness again.
“Everything just worked out perfect and I couldn’t be happier today,” Shannon said.
Reviving the social mixer
Besednik said she plans to get back to one of her company’s founding events — the social mixer — very soon with her next event likely taking place about October. The first social mixer of its kind took place in 2005 at the Gladstone Inn & Suites in Jamestown with about 80 people attending, according to Besednik.
It’s a type of event that Besednik said many of the couples in her service originally met at, and she hopes to spawn future love matches using the mixer as a starting point.
For more information on Dakota Dates, visit www.dakotadates.com and to contact Sharri Besednik, call 701-368-1228.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org