Fargo bars attract crowds with business model

Story by Matthew Liedke

MSUM Journalism Major

Downtown Fargo has a great deal of people at the bars on the weekend, it is not uncommon to walk by a select establishment on a Friday or Saturday night and see a place that has a flood of people in it. To some this may be annoying however there actually is a professional business model based around crowd sizes.

The bars are usually so filled up downtown it can be hard to even maneuver. Dempsey’s always has a good crowd. While at The Old Broadway, trying to make it from one end to the other without spilling your beer could possibly make it as a challenge on a reality show.

Dempsey's, a pub that can get so filled that there doesn't appear to be any room left.

The idea of making it through these bars can be annoying to some. However, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for business.  Judging by some of the reviews that are found on sites like “Yelp!” and “Trip Advisor,” these packed places are very favorable. Many saying that despite the crowd, the drink specials at The Old Broadway make it worth the visit.

The Old Broadway, the place has so many on the weekends it is very common to see a large crowd standing outside as well.

The full crowds in the small area of the Dempsey’s musical stage, The Aquarium, are well liked too. One review saying,

“The Aquarium is one of my favorite places to see live music. It has a great ambiance, even though it’s tiny, but this factor adds an intimacy between performer and audience.”

It is not just speculation. Filled up places, including bars, is an actual business model. Dr. Wayne Alexander, an MSUM professor at the Center For Business calls it “the bandwagon effect.”

“If you see a bar that’s empty, you will probably be more inclined to stay away,” Alexander said. He also explained how bars and clubs in bigger cities use this model by not letting people in until a large line has formed.

This can be observed on most given nights when looking at the very crowded Dempsey’s and comparing it to the less filled Billiards on Broadway. According to this, it seems that for businesses downtown, the special discounts and other attractions are just bait for the first few. The real attraction is the customer’s themselves.

The crowd at Billiards can be small at times.

What influences your decision in bar hopping, do crowded bars make you more likely to enter?


Attracted to the bigger crowds?



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(Edited by Kristin Kirtz, MSUM journalism major)


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About Deneen Gilmour

Deneen Gilmour is the MSUM professor who channels her senior students' work onto this blog. The stories and multimedia here are created by each semester's Mass Comm 405/Writing for the Web class. Gilmour was a daily newspaper journalist for 16 years before getting her Ph.D. and moving into academia. She and her husband, Jim, have a 20-year-old son and two daughters, 8 and 10.

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