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Business owners grateful for their 'tribe' after issues arise with contractor

The women claim a contractor misused their fit-up money and did not complete the necessary work, pushing back their opening date by at least two months.

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Friends Kelsey Rasco, right, and Allison Lunde talk Friday, April 30, 2021, about their plans to open adjoining businesses at 4600 32nd Ave. S., Fargo. Their respective shops, Dash & White and Florentine & Foliage, are opening behind schedule after problems with a subcontractor. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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FARGO — Business owners Kelsey Rasco and Allison Lunde recently learned a painful business lesson.

The women sat alongside one another on a sofa in their empty store space Friday, April 30, describing what they call an "unfortunate textbook contractor situation."

Rasco planned to reopen her business, Dash & White, at 4600 32nd Ave. S. Suite 124 in the Blu 32 development next to Lunde's Floret & Foliage store the week of April 19. Instead, she pulled up to her business that Monday morning to find a complete mess.

"It's like everyone reads about the contractor who didn't do work as promised," she said. "And the work that was done needs to be redone to ensure that it's correct. We are out a massive amount of funds."

The women declined to name the contractor but said they reported him to the proper authorities.

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"As much as in private I speak to her about how frustrated I am, I truly am hurt just for the fact that this has put a lot of my close friends and family at risk," Rasco said. "But it's not my intention (to name the contractor) because, at the end of the day, he is the one who is going to have to sit with that decision and that ripple effect. I don't need to push that even further."

The women hired Great States Construction to complete the project, which they hope can be wrapped up in six weeks or so.

Great States Construction President Michael Casper confirmed his firm was hired to finish the fit-up.

"It is unfortunate that some contractors are not responsible with other people's welfare. They give the rest of us who are doing it the correct way and taking complete responsibility of the project a bad name," he said.

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Friends and partners

Rasco and Lunde met through the social media app Instagram, first following each other's personal pages and later their business pages. Soon after, Rasco began carrying Lunde's plants at Dash & White.

"It was on consignment, so I took care of her babies. She was making a little money in town and branching out from weddings," she said.

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Dash & White opened in 2019 at The Shoppes at BLU Water Creek at 3265 45th St. S. in Fargo. Because Rasco's location was on the backside of the strip mall, she jumped at the chance two years later to move nearby to a space that faces 32nd Avenue.

"For me to have high-end furniture, people would walk around the corner (at the former location) and it was kind of startling. Also, I was growing out of my space a little bit. And, of course, this is on one of the busiest corners of North Dakota," she said.

Ultimately, she said, she wouldn't have moved if Lunde's Floret & Foliage was not going to be her neighbor. In fact, the women are planning an open archway between the two businesses.

"I fully expect to get trained in over there (at Floret & Foliage)," Rasco joked.

Lunde launched her career at the Northport Hornbacher's flower shop after studying landscape design at MState. She worked there for several years before moving to the Twin Cities area with her husband.

While she was able to find a job in her profession there, she ultimately missed Fargo.

"My husband told me if I got 25 weddings we could move back, so I did," she said.

This summer, she has 45 weddings booked but nowhere to assemble arrangements due to construction delays. Her home and garage are filled with plants that were delivered in anticipation of an April opening date.

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How to help

Both businesses are still selling their goods and services online at dashandwhite.com and floretandfoliage.com .

While Rasco said there will likely be delivery delays because her merchandise is in storage, her online store is "still very operational."

"I am very tired, and I'm trying to be in three places at once and still be a wife and a mother, and I feel like I'm failing at all of it. But, yes, my online store is still very operational. And I'm trying to fulfill orders as quickly as possible," she said.

Dash & White is also still able to serve its design clients. Customers are charged a $1,500 retainer that includes three appointments with a designer.

"That $1,500 retainer can either buy the plan and all the information or they can use it towards a credit toward furnishing at Dash & White," she said. "It's a really flexible program. We think it will be easy for people to get into actually having a designer because that can be kind of intimidating."

Lunde is hoping Floret & Foliage will see a bump in business from Mother's Day.

"So many people ask how they can help me, but honestly I don't know right now. I do have an online store as well, and we do deliveries," she said.

The women are also planning a pop-up at The Thaw at Blu Water Creek , a shopping event planned for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6, for Blu Water Creek Shoppes along 45th Street and 32nd Avenue.

"We're going to have a joint tent just right in front of where our spaces would have been open," Rasco said.

In the end, she said, the lesson she learned from what happened is more heartwarming than painful.

"I think the lesson — Oh my God, I'm going to cry — that I actually really learned is how beautiful of a tribe that we have and how much we have endured as business owners and friends," Rasco said.

Angie Wieck is the business editor for The Forum. Email her at awieck@forumcomm.com
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