FARGO — Downtown Fargo’s SHANNALEE Boutique is becoming the SHANNALEE Event Boutique.
What started as “a gathering place” and “a happy space” for people to share of love of fashion in downtown Fargo is becoming a new type of gathering place, with plans to host everything from birthday parties to corporate events to pop-up shops.
With the retail climate changing, owner Shanna Lee said she sensed a new opportunity for the space at 313 Broadway N. that she first renovated in 2006.
“Gatherings and experiences and events are very important to this community,” Lee said Monday, Aug. 12.
“(The boutique space is) upscale. It’s Fargo. It’s a place where if you were entertaining clients or guests from all over the country or the world, this represents Fargo, right here, and the new direction of Fargo,” Lee said. “It doesn’t get any better when that theater sign is lit in here at night. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”
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Lee said she’s been part of the retail industry for 25 years, 13 of them as proprietor of SHANNALEE Boutique.
Lee said it was 2017 when she saw the disruption of brick-and-mortar retail establishments by online shopping beginning to hit North Dakota.
“It was just time to retire from the fashion industry,” she said.
“Sometimes, you have to listen to the taps on your shoulder,” Lee said. “First and foremost, I am a businesswoman, and I see where the future of retail is going, and it’s brutal.”
It was also in 2017 that she started the SHANNALEE Inside speaker series at her store, bringing in experts to share their insights on various topics and giving people something to bond over.
Over time, she learned that guests at some of the events were interested in renting her space for their own functions, such as weddings and corporate meetings.
“The cornerstone of an event is really the space itself, the feeling a space has. You can’t buy the view out the front window. Check it out,” she said, pointing to the iconic Fargo Theatre marquee directly across the street.
There is about 1,000 square feet of event space, with another 500 square feet in back that can be used by caterers.
The venue will be available from 6 a.m. to midnight. Renters can put together their own events or use event-planning specialists from the area, she said.
Lee said she has not yet determined the rental rates.
She offers the space to people “who need a small, intimate, funky, groovy, artsy space, with Broadway access.”
Lee said pop-up shops will be part of the new uses for the event boutique’s space. She envisions some of the pop-ups being run by industry outlets, whether it's an upscale fashion retailer or a consumer electronics shop.
She also plans to do her own pop-up SHANNALEE events, selling items like shoes, handbags or denim.
“But it’s not going to be merchandise that’s hanging here for six months,” Lee said.
“This is an opportunity,” she said. “Pop-ups have become really critical to manufacturers,” allowing them to make direct connections with consumers.
Lee anticipates that events will begin in October, after the last of renovations are done to the first-floor space.
“I am excited. I’ve been excited about this all year long,” Lee said.