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Fargo's Great Harvest Bread Co. needs new owner to rise up and take over

The south side whole grain bakery has been Susan Bates' bread and butter for 16 years, but now she's ready to retire and bake some memories with her family.

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Susan Bates, owner of Great Harvest Bread Co. in south Fargo, is selling her store. “I’m just getting up in age. You don’t know how long it’s going to take to sell a business and you have to begin sometime,” Bates said Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (Helmut Schmidt/The Forum)

FARGO - Susan Bates is ready to hang up her apron.

The owner of Great Harvest Bread Co. is tired of rising early and is looking to sell the franchise business that’s been her bread and butter since 2005.

“I am seeking the next person(s) to continue this long-standing, thriving business and help it’s new owners find the enjoyment of owning their own business,” she said in a recent Facebook post, urging interested parties to private message her.

“I’m just getting up in age. You don’t know how long it’s going to take to sell a business and you have to begin sometime,” Bates said Tuesday, Aug. 10. “I’ve got grandchildren and family that are anxious for some more energy from me, and I’m anxious to be able to help them out when I can. So, those are all things in the back of my mind at this point in my life.”

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Bates says the business at 1523 S. University Drive in the Southside Center has survived the coronavirus pandemic well. It became a go-to place for people who needed bread, and found themselves in a jam when they couldn’t get it in grocery stores.

“We have not shut down at all. In fact, business has picked up,” Bates said. “I think when people realized there was no bread on the grocery shelves that they sought options out and found us. Through COVID, we’ve actually survived just fine, which is a bonus for potential buyers.”

Bates said she could not reveal the asking price for the franchise shop, which she’s owned for 16 of its 33 years in Fargo. She directs potential buyers to the Great Harvest website ( greatharvest.com ) to contact the company.

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Bates was “a greenhorn” herself when she took over the business. She had done baking at home, but not a great deal. She was simply interested in owning a business and the owners of the St. Cloud, Minn., Great Harvest shop pointed them to the Fargo franchise “and we jumped in with both feet.”
A big plus is that Great Harvest gives its franchisers lots of leeway in customizing the menu for their area.

“We’re not cookie cutter by any means,” Bates said.

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Great Harvest Bread Co. at 1523 S. University Drive is up for sale, owner Susan Bates confirmed Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (Helmut Schmidt/The Forum)
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

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Great Harvest was started in 1976 in Great Falls, Mont.

It is now headquartered in Dillon, Mont., and there are more than 200 Great Harvest Bread whole grain bakeries and cafes around the country.

In her Facebook appeal, Bates said finding a new owner is the least she can do for her employees and customers.

“I am committed to working with the next owners and getting them started on their journey in the business of rolling in the dough,” adding that she’s looking for “someone that will give it the loving hands and energy the business, and amazing staff deserve.”

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Loaves of bread, including a cinnamon chip bread, wait the noon rush Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, at Great Harvest Bread Co. in south Fargo. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

Bates said she’ll miss her employees and customers.

“Those are the main things I will miss, A lot of familiar faces we see every day,” she said.

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But not the hours, which are meant for the earliest of early birds.

“We begin at 4 .m. It’s an early morning and long days. But you know, it keeps your mind working and your body working,” she said.

Bates doesn’t know what she’ll do in her next act. But she doesn’t figure she’ll loaf around in retirement. A part time gig might be doable, she said.

“I think I’d like to take a few weeks off and kind of regroup and readjust my body. Then see what my family’s needs are,” she said.

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Loaves of bread, including a cinnamon chip bread, wait the noon rush Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, at Great Harvest Bread Co. in south Fargo. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

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Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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