The most recent oil boom that swept western North Dakota brought thousands of people and jobs that changed the economy quite a bit.
The area saw more franchises and big box stores — but ‘mom and pop stores’ are the ones that have had to modify their business models to accommodate so much change.
On National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day, KX News went to a few local businesses to see how they’ve survived through several decades.
“A lot of dedication, a lot of time, for sure. A lot of time, yeah, we call this our home away from home,” Rich and Diane Hensen, owners of Hensen’s Fur & Leather said.
A home a way from home — that description of local business is a common theme among store owners in the area.
Thomas Fitzpatrick, owner of Tom’s Coin, Stamp & Gem Shop said, “If you’re willing to work not 7 days a week, 8 days a week, and more than 40 hours, then it might be for you.”
No matter what they do or what they sell, there’s one requirement for mom and pop store owners that’s the same across the board, “it definitely takes a lot of work to keep a place going,” Hensen added.
“It’s by segmenting yourself into a much more unique concept of customer service,” generational owner of D&S Bootery, Bryan Anderson, said.
“You have to be consistent and you have to pay attention to the person that you’re talking to,” Fitzpatrick said.
His advice to pay close attention is what he and fellow store-owners say keeps the appeal to customers they might otherwise lose to big box stores.
Anderson said, “just make good choices and be truthful and honest to yourself and to your loyal customer base.”
In his case, it’s adapting to the ever-changing economy, “adapt to those, and be strong and faithful to the business that you’ve chosen to run.”
For the Hensens, it’s bringing in new inventory, but also sticking to what they know.
“That’s kind of our thing, Hensen’s for the gloves,” Diane said.
And for Fitzpatrick, it’s getting a good read on his customer base, “ugly is better than pretty,” he said, “people tend to like to buy ugly.”
The state of North Dakota does not require local owner’s to hold a business license so it’s hard to count just how many mom and pop stores are in the city.
But, according to the chamber of commerce, there’s at least 1,000 local businesses in the Minot area.