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AROUND TOWN: Grand Forks clothing store has new owner, location

Mode, a discount seller of designer fashions, is reopening with a new owner and new location on Grand Forks’ South 42nd Street.

“The Grand Forks Mode Store just needs a fresh start,” said Ashley Rae Johnson, who bought the local franchise for the Fargo-based chain.

She plans to open the store at 801 S. 42nd St. in 42nd Street Square, the strip mall across the street from the Alerus Center. Her aim, she said, is to be ready for a grand opening June 13.

The store was located next to the Scheels All Sports store on Columbia Road, but had recently closed, said Rae, who goes by the last name Rae in her other professional ventures. With Scheels set to move to its new mall location, Rae decided 42nd Street would be an up-and-coming, high-traffic area for the store.

“There’s been a lot of talk about that being a destination corridor,” she said.

The Mode chain already has a following for offering “high-end designers at low-end costs,” as Rae put it. She was a fan of the store before buying the franchise.

“I’ve always been a bargain shopper,” she said. “I love sales, I love discounts, but I love fashion, too.”

Digi-Key upgrading buses for workers

Digi-Key, the large electronics distribution company in Thief River Falls, is making its commuter bus service more comfortable for workers coming from Grand Forks.

Rick Trontvet, Digi-Key’s vice president of human resources, said the company is replacing one of the two buses that run from Grand Forks with one that has reclining seats and a restroom while keeping Wi-Fi service. Digi-Key started the bus service last fall to bring workers from 50 miles away because of a worker shortage in northwest Minnesota, exacerbated by a lack of available housing.

“They’re very nice buses, but they’re not a road bus,” Digi-Key President Mark Larson said of the current shuttles. “We’re working to improve the commute for our people.”

Trontvet said Digi-Key expects to add the coach-style bus by June, while keeping one smaller shuttle-style bus. He said the company wants to test the response of the new bus.

Trontvet said Digi-Key has just started busing workers from Bagley, Minn., which is about 25 miles west of Bemidji. The company’s first bus route came from Crookston. There are 62 riders from Grand Forks, 31 from Crookston and 20 from Bagley, he said.

While Digi-Key doesn’t necessarily have plans to expand bus service to other cities, it does want to add more riders.

“We’re pursuing more and more leads to try to grow that service,” Trontvet said.

EGF firm building office on 42nd St.

An East Grand Forks communications company plans to build a new headquarters on 42nd Street.

Reliance Telephone specializes in communication and security systems for county jails, with customers around the Upper Midwest, according to CEO Dave Hangsleben.

“People don’t realize we’re here,” he said about the company’s low profile and niche market.

Reliance is located near the intersection of Central Avenue and Gateway Drive, but Hangsleben said a new Grand Forks location would house business offices, some equipment assembly and engineering work in a 6,600-square-foot, single-story building near the 17th Avenue South intersection with South 42nd Street.

He said construction could start June 1.


Send business tips to Bjorke at and (701) 780-1117 or to Hageman at or (701) 780-1244.