Bringing business to downtown merchants

By Keiko Kimoto
MSUM mass comm major

Downtown Fargo’s The Chocolate Frog Gift Shop held its first “Make Your Own Candy Bouquet” seminar on Jan. 28.
The turnout surprised the owner and prompted her to quickly schedule more classes.

Eclectic gift shop is new to downtown

The Chocolate Frog hasn’t been around very long, opening July 14, 2008. Danette Nicoloff, owner of the store, worked as a journalist for 10 years, giving her skills to research how to open a gift shop. The store carries locally and originally made items from North Dakota and Minnesota.

“(The gifts) are unique to this area,” said Jessica Barner, a candy bouquet seminar participant. “I like to buy those for gifts for people who live outside of here.”

 

 
Danette Nicoloff, owner of The Chocolate Frog Gift Shop. Photo by Keiko Kimoto

Business downtown

Nicoloff, who loves downtown Fargo, knew she wanted her store to be downtown.
“There is a revival going on in downtown,” she said. “When I was a kid, this is where we shopped. Everything was in downtown. As the city has progressed, people are starting to come back to downtown. Every store in downtown is unique. So I thought this would be a great place to do something unique.”

Owners and staff of downtown Fargo stores meet at least twice a month to discuss strategies to attract people to the refreshed business zone, Nicoloff said. Downtown shops pool their resources to try new marketing ideas and buy advertising together. They work together to bring shoppers downtown and encourage other people to open businesses downtown, she said.

“Make Your Own Candy Bouquet” seminar

With the economy in recession, bringing people into stores proves difficult, she said. To Nicoloff’s delight her seminar idea, “Make Your Own Candy Bouquet” caught people’s eyes and brought them into The Chocolate Frog and downtown Fargo as well.

Nicoloff decided to show participants how to make candy bouquets while serving appetizers and wine.

“I was hoping for getting five or six people but I got 12 for my first time,” Nicoloff said. “So I’m very happy with the way it turned out.”

Participants of the seminar. Photo by Danette Nicoloff

Jed Pahan, the only male participant, helped promote the seminar. He said it was fun and interesting to get new ideas on how to be creative in gift making. Some participants said they have never experienced that kind of creative seminar or event in downtown Fargo and are willing to come back.

Visit those Web sites for future seminar and event information.

The Chocolate Frog Gift Shop
Downtown Community Partnership

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