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No shortage of specialties at Grand Cities Mall

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Artist Darin Drummer works on a picture of Sitting Bull in his new studio space in Grand Cities Mall. (Janelle Vonasek/Grand Forks Herald)3 / 4
Denise Adams opened her Spice of Life baby and women’s boutique about nine months ago. She carries Angel Dear’s supersoft, lightweight bamboo baby blankets in adorable prints of blue birds, pirate ships and little crabs. There’s also jewelry, soaps and cute baby and women’s clothes in small to plus sizes. (Janelle Vonasek/Grand Forks Herald) 4 / 4

The Grand Cities Mall is filled with all sorts of wonders and specialties — so many so, it was difficult to get more than a peek at some of the shops and services in the better part of two days. Here are a few more we saw:

• Artist Darin Drummer is still getting settled into his new space called Drummer Studios. One whole wall jumps to life with a mural depicting an outdoor scene with a giant bear, a Minnesota woods, stream and fish. A motorcycle tank is behind glass and an easel holds a picture of Sitting Bull, another work in progress. Drummer, who does custom painting in all sorts of mixed media, also does tattoo art. Though he's getting things in order and he's not officially open, he is taking appointments. Already, he says, he's booked for the next three months.

• Denise Adams opened her Spice of Life baby and women's boutique about nine months ago. She carries Angel Dear's supersoft, lightweight bamboo baby blankets in adorable prints of blue birds, pirate ships and little crabs. There's also jewelry, soaps and cute baby and women's clothing in small to plus sizes.

Sounds of music

• Alaynee Van Ornum just finished up a Lifesong Family Music session when we caught her this week. She explained that Jessica Ford's business offers class settings for children as young as 0 to 5 and their families. "It's giving children the experience of music" in structured settings. Even with very young children, Van Ornum said concepts such as steady beat and pitch matching can be covered. A partner business, Children's Music Academy, is owned by Stephanie Johnson.

• A sign announces a "Huge Guitar Sale" in the entryway of Popplers Music, but that is not our only treat today. Inside, we meet owner Don Langlie who tells us the store has enjoyed its new location. It has plenty of space for its 300-some feet of shelves to store music for band, marching band, orchestra, choral, jazz band, solo ensemble and vocals. There are lesson rooms and shiny-new instruments. But the most impressive of all might be the piano showroom. It's here we are treated to a mini performance by recent UND music/business graduate Josh Gratton. On a black grand piano, he plays a beautiful piece by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

• We said hello to Stacy Remer at Play It Again Sports. The East Grand Forks Sacred Heart basketball standout was just back from college at West Virginia Wesleyan. She works summers at Play It Again, where she said baseball and softball sales are hitting home runs now.

• We find Jordan Adams and Bailey McMahon doing a "sew out" on one of the embroidery machines at Stengl's Signature Travel & Graphics. Once the customer approves the test run, Adams says the machines can pump out 25 to 60 embroidery pieces in a day, depending on the number of color transitions and other factors.

• It was a big day Wednesday at Burggraf's Ace Hardware. General Manager Tony Gilson said the store was in the middle of a new install for Stihl Power Equipment. The large neighborhood hardware store carries pretty much everything you'd need, including a large variety of grills and the Yeti brand. "It's an oversized mom-and-pop store," Gilson said.

Educational, too

• This reporter learned a few other interesting things at the mall. Moriah Gust of Jack's Shoes says "any shoe with cork is almost immediately better than any shoe without cork." And a German-made shoe company even puts a good-smelling herb between the leather and the sole. "As you wear them, it's supposed to smell good," she says. Does it work? We'll leave that for someone else to find out. We did find two other pairs we just had to buy.

• From footware to fondant, we learned another interesting fact at Cheri Randel's O' For Heaven's Cakes N' More. The most popular cake is not chocolate. Rather, it's almond. The most popular frosting? Traditional buttercream, again, with almond flavoring. Randel says it can take up to seven hours to decorate the most frilly of wedding cakes, and her business probably does about 200 wedding cakes a year. This weekend, she had five on her plate.

• At Family Dollar, the seasonal items also are hot, says Manager Julie Pengilly. "The bus stop nearby really helps (business)," she says. Not everything here is exactly a dollar like its sister business across the street. Still, the pool noodles were, and that's a bargain in blue, green or orange.

• If you can't find a gift at The Christian Bookshelf, you might be suffering from a serious shopping deficiency. Coleen Feist pointed out the longtime store's huge collection of adult and children's Bibles, but the store also carries thousands of other gifts for all ages. What caught this reporter's eye were the boxed sets of greeting cards, faith-based coloring books and the beautiful keepsake boxes.

• Debbie Meagher says she once fixed "137 coats in four months" at the shoe shop owned by her brother, Danny Spiros. They say the 95-year-old family business Service Shoe Shop is the only one like it within 80 miles. The day we stopped, a woman from Grafton picked up her black pumps and told us she tells everyone she knows to come here. Behind the counter, shoes and boots neatly line the shelves and one-of-a-kind tools are scattered on a beaten workbench. The rich smell of leather and shoe polish fills the air.

Last call at the mall

• If you are one of those people who is always one bar bingo number behind, Rumors Sports Bar & Grill would be a good place for you. Giant screens at every turn flash the numbers one at a time. It helps you follow along, but it doesn't necessarily help you win. It was no such luck for Donovan Mitchell who stopped for a game after work. He says the bar plays 75 numbers for $1,000 every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He adds: "The best thing they ever did in this mall was put in that playground. I bring my granddaughter to play every once and awhile."

• Michael Norgard says one of the top sellers at Nature's Country Store is its wide selection of essential oils and diffusers. "If there's an issue, there's usually an oil to help you solve it," he says. "Nature's Shield" is a good oil for those who suffer from allergies.

• At Toucan International Market, you will find foods from around the globe, such as Korea Kimchi, Sushi Nori Wrap and Toddy Palm's Seed and Jack Fruit in Syrup.

• Broc Wurzbacher at Raptor PCs Personal Computer Service was helping two customers get a video to run on their computer. A sign inside his store says he works on Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems.

• Bruce Davis of Forx Vacuum says he's teaching his son, Tyler Davis, the business. The store sells a variety of new vacuums and equipment. They also repair vacuums.

• Faith Presbyterian Church and Thrive Community Church of Grand Forks also are located in the mall.

• Wayne Miller says he stays busy at Correct Time Watch & Jewelry Repair. He's been in the business since 1965 and in the mall since 1980. "It's not as high-demand as it used to be. There's too many throwaway watches," he says. Yet, he still fixes "a lot of old pocket watches from Grandpa."

• You also can find a WIC office, Renewed Hope Chiropractic, Cost Cutters and the North Dakota Ballet Company.