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Published October 12, 2010, 09:31 AM

High Plains Cooperative eyes holiday launch for new store

The newly named general manager of a fledgling North Dakota cooperative says it could open a retail store and order shipping center in Mandan, N.D., as soon as November.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

The newly named general manager of a fledgling North Dakota cooperative says it could open a retail store and order shipping center in Mandan, N.D., as soon as November.

“We want it to be open by the holiday season. That’s our goal,” says Stephanie Sullivan of High Plains Cooperative.

An equity drive that would help to finance the project has passed the halfway point, and the cooperative is optimistic of getting the rest of the way, she says.

The newly formed cooperative seeks to market products from members of Pride of Dakota.

Pride of Dakota, affiliated with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, helps its 400-plus members with marketing and business plans, but can’t sell their products, many of them agricultural.

Some Pride of Dakota members joined together to establish the new cooperative. Its Mandan retail store would allow consumers to buy products from cooperative members at a single location, rather than contacting each member individually.

The cooperative store will be a big help, says Cindy Yale of Mikey’s County Candy in Burlington, N.D., who is active in the organization.

“It promotes my business all the time. It’s a 24/7 extension of my business,” she says.

The store will be in the former J.C. Penney building at 308 Main St. Mandan is the sister city of Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital.

Plans call for part of the building to be occupied by a restaurant that would serve products from cooperative members. The rest of the space would be designated for retail space, Sullivan says.

It’s unclear if the Mandan store would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Some states have stores that specialize in products from that state, Sullivan says, but she’s uncertain if any of those stores have the same organizational structure as the cooperative store in Mandan.

Kiosks planned, too

The cooperative also hopes to establish seasonal kiosks, for holiday shopping, in the North Dakota cities of Minot, Grand Forks and Fargo.

A kiosk is expected to be up and running in Minot this year, but Grand Forks and Fargo kiosks probably won’t be in operation until the 2011 holiday season, Sullivan says.

There also are plans to establish a state-of-the-art website, she says.

Sullivan, a North Dakota native, has a background in marketing and retail management.

“I’m really happy to be back in North Dakota,” she says.

Besides seeking to raise money from Pride of Dakota members, the cooperative is selling preferred stock to the general public.

Each share of preferred stock sells for $5; at least 10 shares must be purchased.

Information: www.dakotaco-op.com.

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