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Open Doors 65 shop looking for new site after being pushed out by parking project

Pam and Roger Sorenson have been volunteering with Open Doors 65 in downtown Fargo for about four years. The shop, which gives out clothes and household items to needy people, must move to make room for a parking lot. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO - For almost four years, Pam and Roger Sorenson have operated a “store” in downtown Fargo for the needy, giving out donated clothes and household items for free.

Now, Open Doors 65 is being squeezed out of its building to make way for a temporary parking lot as Fargo prepares to build a new City Hall and construct a floodwall along the Red River.

With the help of a constant team of volunteers, the couple will close up shop and cram all of their goods into a storage unit while they continue searching for a new home for their shop.

“We haven’t given up yet,” Pam Sorenson said.

Open Doors 65’s last day with its doors open is Wednesday. Roger Sorenson said he’s concerned – but not worried – about finding a new space downtown to continue doing the work they feel they have to do.

“I’m not in control,” he said.

“We’re just leaving it in God’s hands,” Pam Sorenson said.

Open Doors 65’s space, at 65 3rd St. N., is packed full of clothes, shoes, VHS tapes and books. As many as 30 people come through their storeroom on each of the four days a week they’ve been open, grabbing free clothes and maybe a bakery item.

“It’s amazing how many people move into this area who come here with nothing,” Roger Sorenson said. “There are more people than I ever realized there were.”

After nearly four years of running the shop themselves – it was previously run by Cornerstone Ministries, where the pair has been involved since the 1970s – Pam and Roger Sorenson were notified in early June they’d have to vacate by mid-July.

Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral said the city obtained a five-year lease from the building owners, with an option for a second five-year term. The building will be torn down later this summer, he said, and flattened into a 120-spot parking lot before winter settles in.

With city officials moving quickly on plans for a new City Hall, Pam Sorenson said she wasn’t surprised by the notice.

She and her husband hope to find a new home for Open Doors 65 in downtown Fargo, where most of their clientele live.

“A lot of our people don’t have transportation,” Roger Sorenson said.

But with development pushing up rent prices and most open space reserved for offices, they’ve had no luck finding an option they can afford – there’s not much revenue when you give everything away.

Pam Sorenson said she’s worried about the gap that would be left for the neediest people in Fargo-Moorhead if they can’t find a space. Thrift stores may be cheap, but there’s still a cost that some people can’t pay.

“We’ll go where we have to go,” she said.

Kyle Potter
Kyle Potter is an enterprise reporter at the Forum. He came to Fargo-Moorhead in May 2013 after stints at the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Daily. 
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