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Sherri Richards, Published November 23 2010

KotiKites takes flight in downtown Fargo

Business profile

KotiKites and WindSports

North Dakota uses wind as an energy resource. A new store in downtown Fargo is promoting wind as a recreational resource. KotiKites and WindSports opened Monday at 102 Broadway.

The specialty kite store is dedicated to all things wind, its owners said, from fanciful kites such as the 16-foot “Aloha Bird” perched in its Broadway window front to spinning lawn ornaments and wind chimes.

“This concept is bringing a whole new demographic downtown: families and kids,” said co-owner Aaron Lamb. “It’s clean, green fun.”

KotiKites has six niche areas, Lamb and co-owner Trevor Ibach say:

The store will offer a kids’ club as well as rentals and lessons in power kiting. Employee Jesse Kallander is certified to give lessons by the Professional Air Sports Association.

Power kiting can be done on land (land boarding, using a large-scale skateboard), water (kite boarding) or snow (snow kiting). Participants hold on to a bar, or the kite can be harnessed to the individual.

KotiKites and WindSports was among the top 20 finalists in Innovate ND’s 2010 venture competition for entrepreneurs.

The idea was spurred in two main ways. Lamb had worked for a similar store called Into the Wind in Boulder, Colo., as a college student about 13 years ago. Then last year, Ibach, Lamb’s wife’s cousin, approached the Lambs, who have a product development firm called Generation IDEA in the North Dakota State University Research and Technology Park Incubator.

He had an invention: an automatic spooling system for children’s kites. Ibach was inspired when he saw a man kiting on Duluth’s Superior shore using a power drill.

The KitoReel is still in development and won’t be carried in the store right away. But the idea was parlayed into KotiKites, and it has spurred Lamb and Ibach to connect with a nationwide kiting community.

“Now we feel we have an obligation to help grow the sport,” Ibach said.

Located between open plains and Minnesota’s lakes, Fargo is perfectly situated for wind sports, they said. They can imagine college students spending spring breaks power kiting in the area.

People will no longer need to find a mountain for winter recreation, Ibach said. “Who says you can’t fly a kite in North Dakota in the winter?” he said. “Go two miles out of town and blaze across a field.”

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