Small businesses invite all to ‘Shop Across the Prairie’ in rural towns

Shopping event will promote 15 businesses – and pop-up vendors – in nine northeast North Dakota communities

The Rustic Flea, a shop in Michigan, North Dakota, is one of 15 small businesses hosting the first "Shop Across the Prairie" event Saturday, April 29, in nine rural towns in the region. Here is a photo of the interior of the shop, which is filled with repurposed and new items.
Contributed / Cynthia Ritteman

LARIMORE, N.D. – About 15 stores in nine area communities are launching the first “Shop Across the Prairie” event, which will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 29.

Intended to highlight the importance of small businesses in rural areas and their impact on the local economy, the event will include shops in Larimore, Michigan, Park River, Lakota, Tolna, Brocket, Manvel, Crystal and Grafton. Some shops will also feature pop-up vendors.

“Our small-town businesses in North Dakota are vital contributors to our state economy, as well as the lifeblood of our small towns’ economy,” said Heidi Collison, social media coordinator for the Larimore Flower, Gift and Coffee shop.

Cynthia Ritteman, who owns and operates The Rustic Flea in Michigan, said this is the first event being organized under the banner, “Shop Across the Prairie.”

Ritteman has received positive reactions to the day-long shopping promotion from small business owners, she said. Recently, she went to Park River to see her daughter, who was anxious to show her the My Little Nest Egg shop. Ritteman enlisted the owner for Saturday’s shopping event, and then brought the idea to other business owners there.


“By the time I left Park River, I had five more stores (signed up),” she said. “Within two days, it was up to15.”

This map highlights the small businesses participating in the first "Shop Across the Prairie" event, set for Saturday, April 29.

At her Michigan store, Ritteman has received feedback from customers and others who say “the town is so happy that I’m there,” she said.

“The community has been very supportive of me,” Ritteman said, noting that her business occupies a building that, if not for her store, “may not be productive.”

Like other small business owners, she pays local taxes, which, at 7% in Michigan, helps support local services and projects.

The community support she receives is “reciprocated,” said Ritteman, who recently completed her sixth year in business. She donates items for door prizes or gift certificates to support special events, such as fundraisers for the golf course or turkey raffles.

She also makes it a point to steer her customers to the only local eatery, the Horseshoe Saloon and Grill, she said.

“I think about how lucky I am to have this place, (but) sometimes I wonder, am I doing enough, do I have sellable stuff,” said Ritteman, who specializes in repurposed as well as new items, “but then a customer will come in and say how nice it is to have (this business) in town.”

For more information, search “Shop Across the Prairie” on Facebook or call the Larimore Flower, Gift and Coffee shop, (701) 343-6207.


Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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