ND Tough Gear & Lifestyles prepares to open in Mapleton

Owner Mallory Vorwerk said the move to Maple River Town Square will give the shop ground-floor access for customers and put her in easy driving distance of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area.

Mallory Vorwerk, owner of ND Tough Gear and Lifestyles, is pictured Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in front of the future location of her store in the Maple River Town Square in Mapleton, N.D. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
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MAPLETON, N.D. - Mallory Vorwerk is planning to toughen up Mapleton - in a good way.

Vorwerk is moving her business, ND Tough Gear & Lifestyles, from Casselton to the Maple River Town Square.

Vorwerk hopes to get her space next to Muddy Boots Coffee House fitted up and ready for occupation sometime in early 2022.

While her initial location, just above Z’s Pub and Grub (formerly Dusty’s Tavern) on Front Street, has been good to her boutique and custom apparel printing shop, she said the 26 steps to the second floor are a barrier for some customers.

It was taking on a part-time gig as a barista at Muddy Boots that opened her eyes to getting in on the ground floor - literally - of the new strip mall.


“Being ground level has become pretty important to me. I have a lot of customers that can’t climb those 26 stairs up to my store. I want to be sure everybody can stop there, not just the people who can climb the stairs,” Vorwerk said Friday, Dec. 3.


She currently runs the business from her home. (The storefront has been shuttered about 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.)
Not long ago, Muddy Boots approached her to make their employee uniforms and some merchandise. Vorwerk told Muddy Boots co-owner Kathryn Kingsley that she had worked at a coffee shop during her college years, and would be willing to help if needed.

“I started working with them in October. The more I was at the coffee shop helping them out, the more I realized that the space next door to it was the perfect location for my store,” Vorwerk said.

In a few weeks she signed a lease.

The space for ND Tough Gear & Lifestyles in the Maple River Town Square strip mall appears ready to be fitted out Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Owner Mallory Vorwerk said if all goes well, the shop should be ready to open in early 2022. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

“I am beyond excited, a little nervous but most of all grateful that I have the opportunity to open my ND TOUGH Gear doors again on GROUND LEVEL!!!” she wrote in a Nov. 26 Facebook post.


Vorwerk began custom printing T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, tumblers and other gear about four years ago.

She got the idea for the company after hearing National Football League (and former North Dakota State University) quarterback Carson Wentz described as being “North Dakota tough.”

“I remember thinking, ‘Someone really needs to put this on a shirt.’” she told The Forum in a 2018 interview.

Within a short time, she got her business off the ground. Eight months later, she added the boutique side, ND Tough Lifestyles, to her business model.

Vorwerk does custom printing for a number of area businesses and organizations, she also sells her products online and in four Fargo-Moorhead area Hornbacher’s grocery stores.

She figures she’s printed about 80,000 shirts so far, calling it “the backbone of the business.”

Vorwerk and her family live in Casselton, but says the Mapleton location should be good for the business, if only because it’s just five or six minutes from the Fargo-Moorhead metro area.

“It will absolutely help,” Vorwerk said. “Mapleton is just so close to West Fargo now. You just blink and you’re there.”


The websites for Vorwerk’s operations are and

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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