MARILYN HAGERTY: Fergusons tread gingerly into book business for Grand Forks
Some days, he wonders what he is doing. Other days, Dane Ferguson is sure he is on the right track. To me, he is a hero. He dared to open a bookstore in Columbia Mall when major stores B. Dalton and Barnes and Noble moved out. He saved Grand Fork...
Some days, he wonders what he is doing. Other days, Dane Ferguson is sure he is on the right track.
To me, he is a hero. He dared to open a bookstore in Columbia Mall when major stores B. Dalton and Barnes and Noble moved out. He saved Grand Forks from being a city without a bookstore in its major mall.
When he gets flustered, his wife, Elizabeth, reminds him they are in business for the long haul, and they are doing OK. And he is quick to agree and credit initial success to his brother, Taylor Ferguson, who is his business manager.
The Fergusons ventured into the book business when they opened a used bookstore last June at 3750 32nd Ave. S., in the Menards shopping area. They opened their store in the Sears wing of Columbia Mall in April after having had a kiosk there. Dane and Taylor built bookshelves out of old shelves. They created cozy corners in their main store near Menards and a large reading room in the Columbia Mall store.
Dane and Elizabeth are graduates of Concordia College in Moorhead and had been living in Fargo before moving to Grand Forks. She teaches fourth grade at Highland School in Crookston and takes their 16-month-old son, Xander, along to daycare there.
While he had been working for businesses here, he always had an itching to run his own business. And now he is following his dream. Some days, he hopes only to make a go of it. Other days, he thinks of expanding to other cities.
He feels he has found a formula that works. He offers customers a pre-owned book with the purchase of a new book. And, if he doesn't have the new book desired in stock, he will order it for customers. They still go out of the store with a book.
He has found that he can draw customers by offering something free. In the days when he had only a kiosk in Columbia Mall, he handed out 15 percent off cards for people who might like to browse for books in the book store near Menards.
And the Fergusons have tried to make their store near Menards a place where people like to gather and network. There is a Socrates Cafe group that meets sporadically. Next Saturday, there will be a CD signing of "Winter Boys."
Both of the Ferguson book stores are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and stay open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours are noon to 8 p.m.
Both stores have cozy nooks where customers can read. And the stores incorporate shelving and wood used in former Grand Forks bookstores. There's a touch of B. Dalton left in the shelving at Fergusons. The buying and trading of books is done only at the Menard center location.
The Fergusons like to read. Dane and Elizabeth have cut off their own cable television service at home to make sure there is more time for reading. And also to save a little money. He was a political science major who couldn't really get into science fiction. She loves children's literature and had harbored the dream of some day running a bookstore.
Her interest in reading stems from the Harry Potter books. She's read them all. Then she yearned for more children's literature.
They are reading books now to Xander. One of the favorites is, "Good Night Moon."
Meanwhile, they are focusing on the local touch they can offer to customers in their stores. That means something free rather than discounts. And it means they will order books for customers who are not inclined to buy books online.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 772-1055.