Monday, March 12, 2007

New chains want to set up shop in GF

On March 23 and 24, Columbia Mall in Grand Forks will play host to Franchise Expo 2007, a unique event aimed at finding potential franchisees for retail chains that would like to come to Columbia Mall and the Grand Cities. Read the Herald story.

Companies interested in setting up shop in Grand Forks include:

Dunn Brothers Coffee
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Charley's Grilled Subs
Taco Time

The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory website already lists Columbia Mall, Fargo's West Acres Mall, and Bismarck's Kirkwood Mall as "available" properties they are looking to find franchisees for...check it out.

Also, a January 19, 2007 story in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal mentions that Dunn Brothers "is in talks with prospective franchisees in North Dakota and Iowa and expects to open its first locations in those states later this year"...check it out.

Clearly, GK Development (the owners of Columbia Mall) would like to see these chains set up shop in their mall. The Dakota Cafe food court still has several empty spots that the mall would certainly like to fill. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this expo.


Anonymous said...

Please, for the love of God, can we get something other than frickin' food chains in this town for once?!

Anonymous said...

like the highest job growth in ND? - oh, wait...we have that right now. In meaningful industries..oh, wait - LM GLassfiber, Cirrus, Amazon, UND, Altru and others have added easily over 1,000 employees in the last 5 years. Hmmm...seems like your wish is fulfilled if you look for it.

Joey said...

You have got to be kidding me! More food in Columbia Mall?? How about clothing stores for men and women? I don't know about everyone on this blog, but Sears, JC Penny's and the new Macy's is just not cutting it for me. I'm a professional in my 30s and there is absolutely nothing in any of those stores that I like. I want to spend my money in town, but for anything stylish, I go to Fargo and MPLS.

dale said...

You have got to be kidding me! More food in Columbia Mall??

Well, what's in there now? The food court is largely bereft of anything I'd go out of my way for. Actually, it's completely bereft. I need a Subway sandwich, I'll go to one of the other 72 locations in the Grand Cities.

A decent food court becomes a destination, because you can go there with a number of people without arguing about what type of food you want to eat. When I lived in Michigan, my coworkers and I ate at the nearest mall food court about once a week, for that very reason. I've eaten at the Columbia Mall food court probably three times since it opened.

That said, I agree that a decent men's clothing store would be nice to see, though Silverman's demise kind of indicates that there's not a lot of demand for that, specifically, as people make do with Kohl's, Macy's and the other general retailers.

Coffee Guy said...

I have never eaten in the food court, and probably never will until something interesting opens.

A Men's Wearhouse would be a perfect addition to the GF clothing scene.

Coffee Guy said...

And GF would be lucky to have a Dunn Brothers open up.

Anonymous said...

I checked tonight's City Council agenda, does anyone know anything about the first discussion item regarding public consumption of alcohol?

Please tell me that the discussiion isn't to make it more restrictive.

Anonymous said...

Oops...I meant to post the above under the new city website thread.

Anonymous said...

Regrardless of all the new construction and chain restaurants, to me, Grand Forks doesn't "feel" any larger in the last 20 years. To me, in the last 10-15, it feels smaller.

ec99 said...

" LM GLassfiber, Cirrus, Amazon, UND, Altru and others"

How many more years are people going to point to these same examples as proof of GF's economic health? It's reminiscent of when Plains Software was the one example that ND was part of the technology world. Seems like all the other news concerns franchise restaurants with their what, 3.25/hr waitress wages?

Anonymous said...

"3.25/hr waitress wages"

Anybody who has waited tables knows that servers make some pretty good money. It's not fun or easy work, but if somebody were to work at a nice place full-time, they could make $30,000/year.

More than they start at Amazon or LM Fiberglass.

ec99 said...

"but if somebody were to work at a nice place full-time, they could make $30,000/year."

"Nice place full time" are the operative words. Do franchises offer either? Then there is the rumor that North Dakotans are most miserly tippers in the US.

Anonymous said...

to me, Grand Forks doesn't "feel" any larger in the last 20 years. To me, in the last 10-15, it feels smaller.

It's called gaining maturity seeing from a larger perspective. I formerly thought of Minneapolis as some mysterious metropolis, but no longer. It remains a midwestern city that is defined more by its history than by its aspirations.

bethski said...

As much as I appreciate more business coming into G-town, do we really need another sub sandwich shop? I wont argue the chocolate factory however....:o)

Anonymous said...

LM Glassfiber is a new citation, not an old one. And those who complain about their "low wages" are complaining just for the sake of it. We are already seeing the ripple effect of increased wages caused by LM recent higher pay rash of hirings.

How about BBI biofuels, a GF-based publishing company with now over 35 information and tech employees in the area?

Anon 52 said...

Why doesn't anyone ever mention Simplot? Might be urban legend, but I've heard that since it's unionized, a 20-year worker with a high school dgree makes more than a UND prof with the same amount of time in.

Anonymous said...


#1. Dunn Bros. Coffee. How many Goddamn autonomous coffee shops can one small town have?!

#2. Charley's sucks. Trust me on this one. Subway, Quizno's Blimpy's, Jimmy John's, Hell, even Wal-Mart's deli beats Charley's.

#3. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Okay, this one I can see. I'm not a big fan of chocolate, in fact, I can't stand it, but at least it's some much needed diversity.

#4. Wasn't there a Taco Time in the mall already? Look at the nail parlor's exterior and you will see Taco Time's old facade. That place was HORRIBLE. Cheap burritos that would make you physically ill within 30 minutes. That place tanked for a reason.

C'mon Columbia Mall, you can do better. How about a Teavana store? or you could talk Children's Place, LLC into opening a Disney store for Canadian tourists? A Sharper Image, Discovery Store, Burlington Coat Factory, or Steve and Berry's would rock! ESPECIALLY Steve and Berry's. In fact, THAT'S what should go into the old Target space.

So many possibilities...

Anonymous said...

Quality children's items, even/especially a used clothes store, is one area of retail in this town that's untapped. It's the biggest retail opportunity in town right now.

Coffee Guy said...

"#1. Dunn Bros. Coffee. How many Goddamn autonomous coffee shops can one small town have?!"

Dunn Brothers is a national chain, with a hundred or so locations. I don't think that qualifies as an autonomous coffee shop. That said, their coffee is EXCELLENT, as they roast fresh daily in every store (except the kiosk outlets, who get theirs fresh from the nearest shop). They also focus on what roast is best for each bean, not just burn it to a crisp like Starbucks does.

In my opinion, Dunn Brothers is the best of the national chain coffee shops, and I for one would welcome them to Grand Forks. Maybe then the people who pay for Urban Stampede's "coffee" will be able to taste what good, fresh coffee is all about.

ec99 said...

The point is there is already a plethora of coffee places in GF. This in spite of the fact most people in this city drink a brew which looks like Lipton Tea.

Anonymous said...

Did Rex Appliances close or did I miss something (other than Rex)

Coffee Guy said...

Yes, Rex closed. You're not missing anything, unless you like the feel you get when you walk into a used car dealership.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why, but somehow I just KNEW I'd irk the Coffee Guy with the Dunn Bros. comment! LOL ;)

Seriously though, does the mall need another coffee shop? I'm sure Dunn Brothers is good, but those ladies just opened their coffee shop in the mall not too long ago.

The point I'm trying to make is that Columbia mall needs to get more retail there. A good food court should COMPLIMENT the retail in the rest of the mall. I remember when the Gap opened and my college friends and I said "Great...a Gap...and it's only been most of a decade since the Gap was cool...Well done, folks."

I don't live in GF anymore, but I mean this, I would come back up there if GF got out of it's rut. I couldn't stand not having any choices. I would make GF a better place on my own, but I don't have the kind of money needed to do that. Look at the Holiday Mall situation: The plan had a museum, an IMAX, all kinds of great possibilities, and then they sell half of it to a couple of locals who have never run a multiplex. That place is gonna tank. It sucks, but it's true. The Grand Cities needs to get over it's fear of outside influence if it's EVER going to grow like Mayor Brown says he wants it too. Sometimes the locals actually DON'T know better...

Coffee Guy said...

Yeah, you really kept me up last night!

Anonymous said...

REX Electronics probably would have fared much better had the Target development area not sprung up. They were in a great position for development (Washington westward), same area that Simonson's, Uncle Harry's (because he's such a good friend of the family!), and Ford decided to set up because that looked to be the development area.

Now, it is now more. A combination of originally sound placement, shifted economic development, and a rather seedy feeling when you did go in.

As for Silverman's "folding," it didn't; he retired. I personally would love to see a store for big and tall in this town once again, as well.

dale said...

Rex was a dump. I'm amazed that they lasted as long as they did, between the horrible location and the overall ambiance of the place, which was on a par with those "rent to own" places that just ooze "rip-off." That said, I knew several people who enjoyed shopping there and will miss it.

As for Silverman's "folding," it didn't; he retired.

You mean to say that Steve Silverman, all of about 50 years old, retired? On what, the earnings of their "going out of business" sale? If there was a market for high end men's clothes in town, he'd have sold the business, not shuttered it.

I do get the "folding" joke, though. Nice one.

Matthew said...

Maybe then the people who pay for Urban Stampede's "coffee" will be able to taste what good, fresh coffee is all about.

At least Urban has some kind of identity and unique crowd, something your wonderful chain coffee shops will never be able to accomplish.

Coffee Guy said...

Uh oh, here I go! :)

Yes, Stampede has a nice ambiance and maybe an interesting crowd. You might as well order a cup of tap water, because at least that will taste fresh. Me, I'd much rather have a great cup of coffee. Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic, but a phenomenal cup of coffee can make me forget that I'm in a shopping mall, downtown scene-centric shop, or even my living room. The ambiance is of no concern when the product is superior. Maybe the ambiance IS the product for Urban Stampede, and that's fine. Maybe the price of admission and wireless Internet is a cup or two of stale coffee, which is also fine from a market standpoint, but I think it's a shame from a coffee standpoint. This is just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth.

Don't get me wrong, I'll all for independent coffee shops, as long as they have good product. I had the Pourpora (sp?) coffee in Columbia Mall and was unimpressed. And to buy "freshly roasted" beans there will set you back more $$$ than anywhere else in town. I don't like the exclusivity nature of that.

As far as a chain not having a unique identity, that's not true. Dunn brothers is often a "meet up" place for home roasters. These folks have been known to get together there to see how a chain that cares about it's coffee roasts on a larger scale. It's known to attract people who like and understand good coffee. To me, that's the epitome of identity AND a unique crowd. Very unique.

Matthew said...

I've never had coffee at Urban, so I have no idea. I'm not a coffee connaisseur. I usually have hot chocolate. :)

wolfgf said...

"If there was a market for high end men's clothes in town, he'd have sold the business, not shuttered it..."

Silverman's had been out of touch with men's "style" for decades. I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did. I prefer to patronize businesses with a local imprint, but not when they rest on their laurels and refuse to refresh their concept, merchandising and products. You can't compete on service - no matter how good it may be - if you don't have what people want.

and another one gone said...

Looks like the South Forks Plaza, or, Grand Cities Mall, will be looking for a new tenant soon. Big Lots is having a store closing sale.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to get the impression that Coffee Guy likes coffee.

wolfgf said...

Forks is getting two more 24-hour gyms. When it rains...

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