After a year of plenty, Dickinson’s independent retail businesses prepare for more normal year-end sales

Out of Town owner and manager Brooke Leno, left, helps employee Chloe Jazvic as she helps a customer and Melissa Moos folds clothing on Friday, Nov. 29, 2015, at the store in the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson, N.D. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press)
Out of Town owner and manager Brooke Leno, left, helps employee Chloe Jazvic as she helps a customer and Melissa Moos folds clothing on Friday, Nov. 29, 2015, at the store in the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson, N.D. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press)

Holidays can make or break the profit margins of small retail businesses.

In Dickinson, the time carries even greater meaning for relatively new businesses — especially those that sprang up in recent years around the promise of the burgeoning energy industry and population growth, only to see commerce wane in the wake of the industry’s slowdown.

“In general, business is slower,” said Brooke Leno, manager of Out of Town and Out of Town Kids in the Prairie Hills Mall. “People aren’t coming in and dropping a bunch of money like they used to. They’re being more strategic about their purchases. It’s nothing that’s going to make or break us. It’s definitely slower and you can tell. But it seems like the last few days, people are getting into that Christmas shopping.”

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Just another Black Friday: Stores take ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach anticipating deal hunters

Rachelle Bliss, left, helps customer Janel Ladbury of Dickinson on Friday afternoon at Ace Hardware at the T-Rex Plaza.

Stores take ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach anticipating deal hunters

Customers flooded Dickinson stores Thursday night and throughout the day Friday, hunting for deals and officially kicking off the holiday shopping season. Yet, store managers in a city known for having employee shortcomings said they were able to keep pace well, despite hectic instances. “This is our all-hands-on-deck thing,” Herbergers store manager Sarah Molnar said. “This is our year right here. So basically, we’re all here.”

Herbergers was the first retail store other than Walmart to open on Thanksgiving Day, starting its deals at 6 p.m. It stayed open through the night and, by 3 p.m. Friday, still had customers waiting in long lines at service counters waiting to pay for the deals they’d discovered.

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Sears’ new manager gears up for holidays: Ownership, location change hasn’t slowed appliance dealer

Sears Manager Kyle Gengler, left, and his sister-in-law and employee Tanya Jo Keck discuss appliances with a customer at Sears in Dickinson on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Gengler took over management of Sears, which is owned by his stepfather. On the cover, Gengler stands in front of the Sears sign on the T-Rex Plaza off Third Avenue West. The store relocated after spending several years in a stand-alone store west of the Prairie Hills Mall.

Kyle Gengler knows he is starting his job at a busy time.

Not only is the Dickinson retail business booming, the holidays just happen to be right around the corner.

Last Tuesday morning, shortly after opening at 9 a.m., customers and looky loos started trickling in to the new Sears location in the T-Rex Plaza. Some shopped for tools — the people who knew exactly what they needed — while others browsed appliances and sale items.

“I’m already sitting here and gearing up for next week,” Gengler said as he sat behind the store’s computer, taking a break in between customer questions and shoring up his delivery driver’s morning itinerary.

Gengler is the new manager of Sears, which relocated to the T-Rex Plaza earlier this fall. The store is now owned by Gengler’s stepfather, Dale Keck.
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Love it or hate it, Black Friday brings ’em out

A look at the Walmart Black Friday crowd.

On Thanksgiving night — or Gray Thursday, if you want to call it that — crowds of shoppers gathered inside of Walmart awaiting the proverbial 6 p.m. starting bell that allowed them to buy discounted items such as TVs, iPads, video games, vacuums and even Tupperware.

Yes, Tupperware. But to be fair, at less than $7 for 30 items, any 1950s housewife will tell you it was a steal of a deal. And any 2013 gamer will say you’re crazy if you’re not in line for $30 copies of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto V.

Love it or hate it, Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales sure do have a way of bringing out customers.

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Shoppers Holiday: Dickinson store owners, managers prepare for Thanksgiving, Black Friday rush

Sara Spradley puts a tool set on a rack at Newby’s Ace Hardware on Wednesday in preparation for the store’s early morning opening on Friday.

Lenny Johnson calls the sound similar to a “stampede of horses.”

The co-owner of Starboard, an apparel store in the Prairie Hills Mall, has been a part of three Black Friday doorbuster sales pushes. Each one has been more interesting than the last, he said, as the mall doors open and customers flood in — some of them running — toward stores looking for deals.

“It is absolutely the craziest thing you will ever see,” Johnson said. “You can literally hear the feet.”

Dickinson’s population has practically doubled in the past five years and many who work in retail businesses said sales have improved during that span.

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