Story and photos by Ashley Wirtzfeld
MSUM Mass Comm Major
Some people might shudder at the thought of working day after day by the side of their mother. However, this isn’t the case for mother-and-daughter pair Liz Walberg and Cari Luchau. They are the successfu1 owners of the arts and crafts store c.lizzy’s at 410 N. Broadway in downtown Fargo.
Liz Walberg and her daughter Cari Luchau in c.lizzy’s.
Although they didn’t set out to build a business together, Walberg and Luchau saw an opportunity and took it.
“We were both at a crossroads in our previous careers,” said Luchau. “My mother was retiring after 25 years in the dental industry and my job in the software industry wasn’t moving anywhere. It was basically now or never.”
Industry background and talent equals business
Now or never turned into now for Walberg and Luchau.
“My mother and I had always done craft shows,” Luchau said.
They started out with a small studio store on First Avenue.
“We were drawn to downtown,” said Luchau. “Downtown seems to fit our product offering.”
“We also love the downtown feeling,” said Walberg. “It is like one you can experience in bigger cities.”
With their studio in the perfect location, business was taking off. When people started stopping by their house to pick up orders, they knew something had to be done.
“We made three moves and one expansion in four years,” said Luchau. “Then we moved into our current store in 2006 because there was a need for a larger workspace.”
The new store location features a retail side and a studio side, providing enough space for the growing business. Besides having their store, Walberg and Luchau sell wholesale wares to other stores.
“We ship all over,” said Walberg. “We are in about 200 stores.”
A section of the retail side c.lizzy’s located in downtown Fargo.
C.lizzy’s also carries other artists’ work as well.
“We carry some local work but we also shop at wholesale shows,” said Luchau. “We bring national art to Fargo.”
The artwork of Ed and Kate Coleman is an example of national art featured in their store.
Ed and Kate Coleman
A line of clocks called “clique clocks” is currently featured at c.lizzy’s. The clocks were created by North Carolina couple Ed and Kate Coleman. The Colemans don’t have a retail store; they only have a studio behind their house.
A collection of ‘Clique Clocks’ designed by Ed and Kate Coleman.
Like Walberg and Luchau, the Colemans also sell their products on the wholesale market. The Colemans don’t sell their artwork on their website, rather they sell to galleries and stores.
“Our work is mostly one-of-a-kind pieces,” said Kate. “This makes it hard to sell on the Web unless someone is willing to photograph each and every piece. Some of the stores do sell it on their websites, though.”
Ed and Kate Coleman artwork in Fargo
With the Colemans such a distance from Fargo some might wonder how they even found out about c.lizzy’s and Fargo.
“We met Liz and Cari when we were both exhibitors at The Buyer’s Market of American Craft in Philadelphia,” Kate stated. “They came to our booth there and have been buying our work since then.”
The Colemans say they love the idea of selling their artwork to fellow artists.
“We do try to keep our work in select locations so it isn’t in one store after the next,” said Kate. “We didn’t have anyone even close to Fargo carrying our work so it seemed like a good idea to sell to Liz and Cari.”
c.lizzy’s offers a variety
The products offered at c.lizzy’s are all American handmade arts and crafts.
“The markets only have hand-created products made in the U.S. or Canada,” said Luchau. “So that is what we decided to specialize in our store.”
The variety of art designed by Walberg is always on display at c.lizzy’s. From jewelry to pottery, c.lizzy’s has a selection for all tastes. To add to the variety, Luchau also does some craft work.
“Mom is the true artist,” said Luchau. “I do more of the business side. Sometimes I will freehand paint (on) glassware or help with other things, though.”
Decorative glass globes featured in c.lizzy’s.
Downtown feels like home for mother and daughter
Being downtown feels like the natural place for their store.
“There is a sense of community and family down here,” said Luchau. “We get a lot of the same customers, too, which adds to the feeling of community and family. It’s fun when we get to know them.”
People come from all over to shop the streets of downtown Fargo, they said, adding to c.lizzy’s clientele.
“There is a lot of traffic from Canada, especially Winnipeg,” Walberg said. “People come from Bismarck and other places to stay downtown and shop downtown.”
Walberg and Luchau believe that downtown Fargo is overlooked by many of the locals. They also believe downtown has a lot to offer.
“There are a lot of hidden gems that people haven’t found yet,” Luchau said.
And, they understand the importance of growth.
“Downtown has a lot of opportunity for expansion, not only in retail but in events as well,” Walberg said. “People should grow as part of the community.”
Unique leaf sculptures made from read leaves.
Wine toppers on top of the bottle featured with hand-painted wine glasses.