WEST FARGO—Kathleen Siewert is used to trying something new, but the store she's opening this weekend is ambitious, even for her.
Helping Hands LLC, 423 Christianson Drive, will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 1. It's a first-of-its-kind business for North Dakota, and Siewert said it took state tax officials a week to decide she needs to charge a sales tax on items she's purchased through liquidation sales.
It's not just a new venture for North Dakota; it's the first time she's opened a store. But it's a logical next step for Siewert, who founded Helping Hands in 2009 to conduct estate sales around the region and has grown the services it offers since then.
The 2,000-square-foot store, attached to Sheyenne Storage and not far from the Harley-Davidson store at 701 Christianson Drive, has elements of what might be found in an average thrift store, including used furniture, antiques, art and kitchen gadgets.
It won't accept donations or drop-offs because Siewert has her own inventory stream through liquidation purchases and selling consigned goods. She hopes it stands out from other stores in town in another important way.
"I want to keep my prices like I do with my estate sales, very fair and reasonable," she said.
Getting to this point has been a long evolution for Siewert.
As she launched Helping Hands, she realized there were companies that helped people move to a new house or apartment, and there were estate sales professionals. But there weren't any local business that did both, so she began to help relocate people as they downsized or moved into assisted living.
Sensing another need, Helping Hands next offered liquidation services, essentially buying the entire contents of a house and then selling those items to others.
Her new store will combine elements of those services while also giving other people a place to display their items that they'll sell through consignment. Helping Hands will also continue to do estate sales and liquidation purchases.
"I'm like a one-stop shop with Helping Hands," she said.
Siewert said many of her clients are antique dealers, resellers, college students and refurbishers, and that will likely remain the case at the new store. Shoppers will find new inventory each week as the store restocks what's been sold and changes up items on display, she said.
The store is managed by Tanya Peterson, a friend of Siewert's who shares an interest in the industry.
"I've always had a passion and knack for design, and I love old, antique and vintage stuff, so it just worked out," Peterson said.
While Siewert will keep the store's new inventory coming in—something she's not too concerned about because she already has several full storage units and she's still buying out households—Peterson will keep Helping Hands a cozy, inviting place to shop through her design work.
Rather than random shelves of stuff, Peterson aims to make "vignettes" to showcase goods, such as a mock bedroom display.
Siewert makes it a point to not become a collector herself, even though she easily could because she buys new stuff all the time. But she said she's passionate about helping other people find these "treasures" to cherish and use for years to come.
"They're their treasures, and that's what I call them even when I meet with my clients," she said. "They have a lot of their life tied to these things."
What: Helping Hands LLC
Where: 423 Christianson Drive, West Fargo
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Phone: (701) 929-1875