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Local is the New Black

Originally published in the December 2016 issue of Fargo Inc!

Fargo is a retail destination for shoppers from hundreds of miles around, anchored by the very successful West Acres Shopping Center. The largest mall in the state, West Acres has established Fargo as a shopping mecca in the minds of North Dakotans and Manitobans alike.

West Acres is anchored by national and regional chains that draw in a critical mass of shoppers, which has allowed smaller local retailers to flourish inside the mall and surrounding it in the 13th Avenue South shopping district.

There’s another retail destination in Fargo that offers up more than 75 eclectic, local, small retailers: downtown Fargo. Shopping downtown Fargo holds surprises and experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.

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Photo by Josie Danz, Zandbroz Variety

The picturesque magic of the holiday lights along Broadway is brought to you by the Downtown Fargo Business Improvement District, a collaboration of downtown property owners who pool resources to continuously improve the neighborhood. They’ve upped their game this year with more and brighter lights that make the sidewalks glow.

For those nostalgic for the vintage practice of dressing store windows for the holidays, the retailers of the Downtown Community Partnership bring you #WindowWinterWonderland. On Saturday, December 17, stroll down Broadway and be dazzled by the creativity of downtown merchants. Step inside the stores to be dazzled by in-store specials and holiday surprises.

The Red Silo, an upcycling shop at 12 Broadway, has partnered with Dakota Carriage Company to offer Sunday afternoon horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown through December 18 – a great family picture idea!

On December 22, downtown retailers offer gift wrapping for your last-minute purchases. Dubbed the Victory Wrap, it also includes a pint of locally brewed Drekker beer for each $25 spent in participating stores.

zooThe retailers of the 400 Block of Broadway combine forces on special holiday season events. Customers love to bring children shopping on their annual petting zoo day! This year, they have added Snail Mail Day on December 8 to their lineup, during which the 400 Block retailers offered holiday postcards for shoppers to write and send, right from the store.

Downtown Fargo will surround you with art, history, music, and events to make the season bright. Need a break from your shopping spree? Be a guest of one of downtown Fargo’s 61 restaurants, cafes, and bars. Bring your skates and lace up for a glide around the outdoor rink at the corner of Main and Broadway.

Need more reasons to make downtown Fargo part of your shopping fun?

Shopping local is a way to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. When you make a purchase at a locally owned shop, you are supporting your neighborhood risk takers and community builders. Small business owners employ more people per revenue dollar, and in turn are customers of the local economy, creating opportunities for more local business growth.

Study after study shows that much more of your dollar stays in your community, creating more local wealth and jobs, when you spend it in a local, independently-owned business. Who knew your shopping list held that much power?

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Get to know the owners of our local shops. They would be happy to share with you the impact you make when you become a customer. Every dollar you spend is a vote for the downtown neighborhood you want to see.

Regarding the elephant in the room, parking exists downtown! Parking along Broadway is free for 90 minutes until 5:00 p.m., at which point the time limit is lifted. If you can’t snag a spot there, data show that a block off the core of Broadway in any direction is typically only 50 percent full at any point during the day. Walking a block to get to Broadway is less than the distance you would walk from 13th Avenue straight in to the West Acres main door, and the walk is lined with interesting shops rather than parked cars and dangerous traffic. Throw in the many low to no-cost public parking lots and we’ve got you covered.

Shopping at small, locally-owned businesses contributes to your community. It opens you up to unique new experiences you can only have in Fargo. Happy Holidays!

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