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Sherri Richards, Published December 15 2010

Kiosks pop up at mall for holidays

Some of Fargo-Moorhead’s newest businesses will be gone as fast as milk and cookies set out for Santa.

More seasonal carts and kiosks popped up in area malls this year than before, selling gift-based merchandise from mid-October or November through late December or into January.

This is the first year See’s Candies has had a presence at West Acres Regional Shopping Center in Fargo. The San Francisco-based candy company opened in 1921, and has more than 200 shops in the West.

The temporary West Acres shop, one of 10 seasonal kiosks there, sells boxed chocolates, truffles, caramels and lollipops. Cashiers wear white and black uniforms.

“Customers have been very happy. We hear all the time from a lot of people … they don’t have to order online or drive to Minneapolis,” Assistant Manager Joyelle Schroeder said.

Sales were steady Monday afternoon at the Calendar Club and Go Games, two temporary kiosks in the J.C. Penney wing. They’ve been seasonal additions to West Acres for more than 10 years.

Manager Mark Rasmussen rang up 2011 calendars, 1,000-piece puzzles and light-up “fluffy balls.”

“With calendars, you obviously couldn’t make a living year-round,” he said. “It works great for us to come in the first of October and leave Jan. 25.”

Toys R Us wanted to open a seasonal storefront in West Acres, but there wasn’t room for them, said leasing manager Jim Ross.

The mall’s stores are basically full, as are 35 kiosk spots. There are a couple of open corridor spaces, but those generally aren’t leased for aesthetic reasons, he said.

“What limits the leasing in the common area are the electrical outlets,” he said.

“We want to provide our customers with as much choice and as many options as possible.”

Their choices may not just be limited to Christmas-time. West Acres is also leasing more kiosks on a year-round basis, Ross said.

One of those is Zoom Copter RC, which sells remote-controlled helicopters, race cars and flexible tracks. It is owned by Domingo Rojas. His wife, Naima Bejjih, said while the toy-based kiosk is open all year and does well in the summer, Christmas is its best time for sales.

The Moorhead Center Mall has two kiosk businesses. The Jewelry Wagon opened in November and plans to leave in the middle of January, said Mall Manager Kristi Ulrich. Da Vinci Teeth Whitening, a permanent kiosk, opened in March. It’s the first permanent kiosk Ulrich has seen in her nearly nine years with the mall.

Jeremy Horst, Moorhead Center Mall leasing director, said the mall plans to grow the kiosk portion of its business.

“We plan to do some remodeling to create more space for kiosks,” he said. This would involve removing the fountain at the City Hall entrance, he said.

Horst said business owners find it’s a way to try out a shopping center without a long-term commitment.

Ulrich agrees. “I think it’s an opportunity for a business to test the waters,” she said. “Hopefully they will move into a permanent location.”

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