Following Her Dream: Experienced Retail Worker Opens New Boutique

Charly Haley, MSUM Multimedia Journalism

Violet Vintage looks out into the courtyard of the Black Building. Owner Pam Kinslow has stocked an eclectic variety of items from clothing, to jewelry, to furniture.
Pam Kinslow, 50, opened Violet Vintage on Oct. 16 in the Black Building on Broadway in downtown Fargo.

FARGO, N.D. – When Pam Kinslow was a little girl, she admired her Grandma Violet.

“She was like this movie star grandmother,” Kinslow said. “She always had this beautiful style of dressing, with her pearls and her beautiful heels. She was just stunning.”

Something about Violet’s fashion sense sparked an interest in Kinslow.

Years later, at about age 20, Kinslow started working in boutiques.

Violet Vintage owner Pam Kinslow keeps a photograph of her Grandma Violet, who is the store’s namesake.

“I grew up in Fargo, so I’m kind of an old Fargo girl, and I’ve worked all of my life in this town,” she said. “I spent many years working locally here for all sorts of beautiful boutiques that were owned by other women.”

This past summer, after almost 30 years in the boutique business, Kinslow, 50, decided to open her own store named Violet Vintage, after her grandma, Violet.

Vintage hats and dresses at Violet Vintage.

She made up her mind

Violet Vintage, located in the Black Building in downtown Fargo, officially opened Oct. 16.

Kinslow first noticed the open location this spring. It’s above The Red Door, a high-end art boutique owned by Janice Scott, Kinslow’s friend and former boss. Kinslow peeked into the windows of her own future store, and after a week, decided to call and ask how much the rent was.

Violet Vintage has knickknacks like candles and cards.

After another week, Kinslow’s sister and mother came to look at the space.

“They were just like, ‘Pam, you need to do this. You need to just open a little boutique already, you’ve talked about it for years,’ ” Kinslow said.

Scott and Kinslow’s other friends and co-workers encouraged her, too.

“This has been her dream,” Scott said. “She’d tell all her friends, and everyone knew.

Violet Vintage owner Pam Kinslow displayed this jewelry from a Chicago designer in a picture frame.

Everyone is so excited for her now.”

Kinslow was hesitant at first, mainly for financial reasons. At the time, she was a full-time employee at O’Day Cache boutique downtown, owned by Cindy O’Day.

“When I found out what the rent was,” Kinslow said, “I thought, ‘You know what, maybe I better do it because if I don’t, I’ll wonder my whole life why I didn’t try it,’ and I didn’t want to feel like I’d be 80 or 90 years old and look back and think, ‘Why didn’t I just do it?’ ”

She reflected on experiences

“I’ve worked for all these other fabulous women,” Kinslow said, “I feel like I’ve really pretty much had the experience and the knowledge to do this. It was just to find enough faith in myself, to believe that I could try doing this. So I kind of did some soul-searching for a week and then I thought, ‘Just do it, Pam, just sign a lease and give it a whirl.’ ”

Violet Vintage has lampshades made by an artists in Menahga, Minn.

Most of Kinslow’s retail experience comes from working nearly 20 years at Laurie’s, a high-end women’s clothing store in West Acres mall. There, she practiced one-on-one selling and waited on clients, many of whom she developed long-term friendships with.

Before Laurie’s, Kinslow worked at Little Women and Victoria’s Secret in West Acres, and the Plains Art Museum when it was located in Moorhead, Minn.

In the early 2000s, Kinslow met Scott in downtown Fargo. At the time, Scott owned The Red Shoe boutique on Broadway, near the then also recently opened O’Day Cache and Shannalee Boutique.

There are handmade paper diaries at Violet Vintage.

Kinslow loved The Red Shoe so much that Scott invited her to work there when she had a day off from Laurie’s. While working there, Kinslow fell in love with downtown Fargo.

“Something just came over me with the aura of downtown,” she said.

When she went back to her job at West Acres, something was missing.

“I just didn’t get the same enjoyment as I felt I did when I would be downtown,” Kinslow said.

She took a job at Shannalee, and eventually ended up in her job at O’Day Cache, which is where she’s worked for the past three years. Even with Violet Vintage opening, Kinslow still works at O’Day Cache once a week.

She decided on a style

Natural lavender products are for sale at Violet Vintage.

After Kinslow signed the lease in June for Violet Vintage, she then had to decide what kind of store it would be.

“I thought, ‘Well the high-end clothing thing would be kind of out of my price range,’ ” she said. “So I thought, ‘I’m going to go for the kind of old, true vintage mixed, with a little modern.’ And I thought, ‘That I could do.’ ”

Displaying merchandise was Violet Vintage owner Pam Kinslow’s specialty at her previous retail jobs.

She started collecting home decor items, clothing and art. As she planned, she connected with many local business owners and artists to help fill her store.

Vintage Violet has many original items, like handmade paper diaries, natural lavender products, new and vintage clothing, jewelry, prints and decor. There are several items by regional artists, including vintage lampshades and ceramic pottery. There are also a few furniture pieces.

“I’m going to bring in more interesting things as I go,” Kinslow said.

Now that she finally has her own store, she said, “It just feels like what I should be doing.”

3 Responses

  1. Hola Pam! It’s your nephew Raymond! This story is music to the soul! I’m so happy for your accomplishments and persistents to your ambitions! Send much love and peace! Come to to visit soon! 🙂

  2. Dorothy Kleist

    Congrats Pam. I will come visit you on my next yesr’s visit to Fargo to see all my friends.
    I know you will be very successful in your new venture.
    You & I worked together at Laurie’s & you are a real swweetheart.

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