MODE founder hopes to open 75 stores by 2024
FARGO—One might say Ciara Stockeland is in expansion mode. Since franchising her Fargo outlet store, MODE, in 2011, she has opened locations in Bismarck, Grand Forks, Sioux Falls, S.D., Roseville, Eagan and Woodbury, in Minnesota, and Overland Park, Kan. She also recently signed franchise agreements for stores in Wichita, Kan., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Mount Pleasant, S.C., that she expects will open this summer.
Her goal is to open 75 MODE stores by the year 2024
'Home of the $40 jeans'
Stockeland said she always dreamed of establishing her own brand. She initially intended to do so with Mama Mia, a high-end maternity store she opened in downtown Fargo in 2006. A year later she opened the first MODE store after being approached to sell a shipment of random overstock merchandise. Stockeland was blown away by MODE's success.
"People like a good deal," she said. "So, in 2008, we merged the concepts. We brought the outlet overstock idea into the boutique environment."
From the beginning, designer jeans were one of the store's top sellers. She decided to trademark "Home of the $40 Jeans" in 2010 as a way to set MODE apart from other outlet stores.
"We knew we had a niche with the designer denim jeans," she said. "We used to sell them for $62 and $89. We thought if we could do it for $40, everybody could afford them. So, we trademarked that and we really started to focus on jeans."
MODE stores also carry overstocked women's shirts and accessories that Stockeland said complement their 12 to 14 different brands of jeans.
More MODE stores, no matter their location, mean more jobs here in Fargo. Franchise support, marketing and buying are all done here in the corporate office adjacent to the MODE store. All of the merchandise also comes to Fargo, where it is sorted and shipped out to stores.
Stockeland said it is important to her that MODE's headquarters remain here.
"I was born and raised in Fargo. It's so exciting to start and grow a company here," Stockeland said. "We're a women-run company. All of our employees are women. And, I love giving young women a job. We have a lot of girls who come here from NDSU's retail merchandising program."
Stockeland is currently looking for additional office and warehouse space. Once that has been secured, she intends to expand the Fargo store and to create a franchise training center.
When it comes to more stores, Stockeland plans to focus on the Midwest. She said finding the right franchise owner is almost more important than finding the right city.
"We're really looking for a woman who understands owning a small business is a lot of work. Someone who is willing to dedicate her time and efforts to that, but who understands there is a great reward to owning their own business as well. I'm looking for someone who is very involved in her community. At this point, we've only granted franchises to women who live in their communities. We feel like that's really important."
Heather Pitsiladis owns the Bismarck store with her sister, Andrea Birst. The former counselor said franchise ownership was perfect for her when she wanted to make a career change a few years ago.
"I like to help people. I like to brighten their day by finding them an outfit. We have stuff here for teens all the way up to the 84-year-old who wants bling jeans," Pitsiladis said. "For me, this franchise was the perfect fit. They've already done all the dirty work and found out what works and what doesn't," she said. "We love MODE."
Where: The Fargo store is located at 4302 13th Ave. S., Suite 13.
Contact: (701) 478-9969