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Through fines, Grand Forks mall essentially pushes kids' shaved ice business out due to stains on carpet

Kool Kreations Shaved Ice was informed by management at the Columbia Mall they would be fined $150 per stain left by customers on the mall carpet, and the kids could no longer sell "damaging products."

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The Kauffman family stands outside their Kool Kreations Shaved Ice business at the Columbia Mall.
Matt Henson/WDAY
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GRAND FORKS — Who is to blame for the stains?

The Columbia Mall in Grand Forks is blaming some children.

Those kids run a shaved ice business in the mall.

But they say they're essentially being told to close.

It's an announcement that has created a bit of an uproar on social media, especially given the fact that well more than one-third of the store fronts at the Columbia Mall are empty.

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"It's the first spot besides just in our front yard," said Micah Kauffman as he was doing a little deep cleaning inside Kool Kreations Shaved Ice.

Normally the business is closed on Mondays.

Later this week it will be closed for good inside the mall.

"Disappointed we could not have been here for longer," he said.

The Kauffman family kids started their cool business five years ago in front of their home near Century Elementary.

They were just a bunch of kids looking to earn some spending money.

Soon the business became too big for their home. They were being asked to set up shop at community events across the northern valley.

Their mom helped them secure space at the mall; first they shared space with her balloon business, but their business kept ballooning, and mom moved her business across the hall.

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"It's a lot of hard work, and it just takes time to actually build up like a foundation and build up all of our regular customers," said Nehemiah Kauffman.

Part of their appeal is the nearly three dozen colorful flavors to choose from. However, in recent months, they say mall management tried to shave their profits.

"They were going to be charging us $150 for stains," explained Micah.

The mall is carpeted, and management said they were having problems getting the stains out. The Kauffmans expanded their seating area to encourage customers to eat there. They also tried clear flavors.

"They didn't come for clear flavors, they came for the fun, colorful flavors. We changed our cups to cups with a big rim, so if they do spill, it will try and keep most of it in the cup so it doesn't spill over," said Nehemiah.

In June, the mall gave them a $300 bill and said they could no longer use damaging products.

"I have seen plenty of people spill their Dippin' Dots all over the carpet," said Nehemiah.

Kool Kreations said they have no other choice then to pack up and leave.

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BigFoot BBQ has offered the Kauffman kids space to store their machines and make ice there.

Still, it's a big loss. The mall counted for half their profits.

In the meantime, the kids hope to expand by focusing on more events and pop-ups around the region.

"Don't give up on your dream. If it doesn't workout the first time, you can try different things and see what works for you. You gotta make it work for you," said Nehemiah.

Kool Kreations will be open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Calls, emails and Facebook requests for comment locally and to the mall's corporate headquarters in Chicago went unanswered.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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