FARGO-There are lots of places to get stuff in Fargo, but the new owner of a long-running website hopes to make Fargo Stuff stand out as a fun place to get locally branded apparel, home decor and more.
Fargo Stuff has operated as a division of Office Sign Co. LLC, 310 NP Ave., since the brand was purchased last summer.
At first, Marketing Coordinator Jack Yakowicz said the company thought the "labor of love" project to revamp and grow a website that was launched in 2006 would better connect with the community.
But he said he was surprised when people began stopping by the downtown office wanting to buy Fargo Stuff apparel and gifts. Office Sign Co. is primarily an e-commerce business-about 85 percent of its sales are online-so it was a new experience to have more customers coming into the building.
"When that happened with Fargo Stuff, we were a little bit not ready for it," Yakowicz said. "People would get walked back to our inventory and go through our break room where people were heating up their lasagna and we were playing Jay Z music too loud."
Connecting to Fargo
While Fargo Stuff is still primarily an online business, Office Sign Co. has responded to growing interest in the brand by adding a retail showroom to its front lobby.
T-shirts, posters, art, mugs, coasters and hats are out on display, giving walk-in customers a way to look over some of the options and make a purchase. Yakowicz said the showroom will be expanded more this summer.
The Twin Cities native said he's realized since moving to Fargo that there is an "innate" love for the city here. He said that's what tends to make people want to buy a T-shirt or mug with Fargo on it.
"I've never really witnessed that much hometown love as I do up here in the Fargo-Moorhead area," he said.
Fargo Stuff isn't the only local apparel or gift brand to capitalize on hometown love, but it is one of the oldest. It was founded in 2006 by John Borge and purchased by Jill and Pete Christopher in 2010 before the brand was sold again to Office Sign Co. last year.
The goal now, Yakowicz said, is to use the brand to represent Fargo as a "cool, up-and-coming place" that's increasingly getting recognized around the country. While most customers are in the region, he said about one-third of sales are to people outside the area.
Office Sign Co. will soon add "Fargo Flavors" options to the Fargo Stuff brand, allowing shoppers to put together gift baskets of foods and products from the Fargo area.
Yakowicz said Fargo Stuff is a way to showcase the creative minds and range of products that Office Sign Co. has become known for since Ryan Fritz started the company in 2008.
"People will always need signs, but it only appeals to really the business community," he said. "This is a way to connect with all of Fargo and let people know who we are."
What: Fargo Stuff
Where: 310 NP Ave., Fargo
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Phone: (701) 566-2913