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Sherri Richards, Published June 19 2010

Fargo woman opens handbag boutique in the Black Building

Laura Emmil understands why many women love purses. “Purses fit,” she said. “Clothes don’t always fit. Shoes don’t always fit. Purses always fit.

“It’s an accessory. It shows your own unique style,” she added. “You can wear an all-black outfit and you carry a colorful, stylish purse, and it looks sharp.”

Emmil turned a partiality for purses into a part-time business. She opened Lauraz Handbags about a year ago in the lower level of downtown Fargo’s Black Building. It’s open two Saturdays a month, including today.

Emmil said she looked into opening a franchise but was turned off by the expense. “I just thought I’d do it on my own,” she said.

She works full time as an information technology professional, so the limited hours work well for her, though she’s often open more than just the two Saturdays.

“There are months I’m open 12 days,” she said.

The store also holds private parties, often on a Friday or Saturday evening. The party hostess invites friends to shop and receives credit to the store.

The women will often go out for coffee or drinks afterward, Emmil said. It’s one advantage to her store being downtown.

“I love downtown. Downtown, I think, has so much to offer,” Emmil said. “I chose the Black Building because I’ve always loved the building. There’s so much here.”

Her shop carries fashion purses, most priced around $45. She also stocks Miche bags, which have interchangeable shells. She also carries wallets, scarves and flip flops.

Emmil said she focuses on variety, stocking many shapes, sizes and colors of purses. She will only order a few of each to ensure uniqueness.

“If a grandma, a mom and a 16-year-old daughter came in, they can all find something,” Emmil said.

Denise Henschel of Fargo wanted to buy her 23-year-old daughter a Miche bag and heard Lauraz carried them. She ended up buying one for herself, too.

Her 21- and 17-year-old daughters now also have purses from Lauraz, and she’s planning on ordering clutch purses for her eldest daughter’s bridal party. She also has hosted two purse parties there.

“I like that she always has something new in there,” Henschel said. “It’s almost like I found a treasure downtown.”

Business profile: Lauraz Handbags

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