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Sherri Richards, Published May 01 2010

LeeAnne's Bridal shifts focus

Cindy Dokken wants her store to be a different kind of bridal shop. “Everything but the dress,” as Dokken describes it.

After nearly a decade, Dokken has closed her LeeAnne’s Bridal and Formal store on Main Avenue in Fargo. LeeAnne’s Bridal and Bliss Prom is now in south Fargo’s TJ Maxx Plaza.

With the new store comes a new focus on alterations, bridesmaid and formal dresses, wedding accessories and tuxedos.

Dokken (whose middle name is LeeAnne) will carry only three lines of wedding dresses in the new shop, focusing instead on the rest of the bridal market.

“We want to be full-service for the whole wedding,” she said.

Dokken also expanded her store into Jamestown, N.D.

She operated a prom store in the Buffalo Mall from January through April. LeeAnne’s Bridal and Bliss Prom will open in downtown Jamestown in September.

Nicole Quam, manager of the Jamestown store, said there haven’t been options for brides or prom-goers in the east-central North Dakota city of nearly 15,000 people.

“It cuts down on the travel. The kids get to get all their stuff in one spot,” Quam said. “It’s brought a lot of kids to Jamestown to shop. They’re just flat-out happy we have a store like this in town.”

JoDee Rasmussen, executive director of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, shopped with her daughter at the Buffalo Mall store, where they bought her prom accessories.

Rasmussen said the bridal and prom store will be “another awesome addition” to Jamestown’s revitalized downtown.

Bridal business

Dokken got into the bridal business 10 years ago when she bought Lady J’s Bridal and Formal Rental. She changed the name and relocated to 2610 Main Ave. in Fargo.

She’s offered prom dresses each year, but in a small spot of the store. “It was very claustrophobic if you had bridal and prom,” she said. “We had outgrown our store to do both.”

She opened the southwest Fargo prom shop in January, operating both Fargo stores and the Jamestown shop for four months. The Main Avenue location closed this week, and its bridal inventory moved over.

Erin Barnhart is the Fargo store manager.

“It’s a huge change, and I think it’s a great change,” Barnhart said. “I think the business is going to flourish from it. … It’s more easily accessible from the interstate, more parking, a bigger location.”

Dokken recognizes it’s a risk to limit the selection of wedding dresses in her store but said the dresses she will stock will be current in style and appealing to most brides. She’ll also accept dresses from other stores for alterations.

She said it’s not common in the industry for shops to alter other stores’ dresses, but she feels doing this helps the experience be more personal for the bride.

“So many people get their dress out of town,” said Dokken, who does the alterations herself.

She said the changes will make her store more “boutique-like.”

“We’re trying to go off the beaten path a little,” she said.

Business profile

LeeAnne’s Bridal and Bliss Prom

Ownership: Cindy Dokken

Where: 4340 13th Ave. S., Fargo

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Contact: (701) 232-7433

Online: www.blisspromnd.com; www.leeannesbridalnd.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556