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Angie Wieck, Published April 30 2012

Gramm’s Hallmark in Northport Shopping Center to close

FARGO – Northside shoppers will soon say goodbye to another retailer. Gramm’s Hallmark, a family-owned business at the Northport Shopping Center for 49 years, will close its doors when its lease is up at the end of June.

Bob and Marty Gramm bought Carousel Card and Gift Shop in 1963. Soon after, the couple introduced jewelry and a jewelry repair service and renamed the store Carousel Jewelers, Card and Gift Shop.

Their son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Sandi Gramm, purchased the store when Bob and Marty retired in 1988. The Gramms phased out the jewelry business and called the store Gramm’s Hallmark.

A clause added to their lease in 2001 forced Gramm’s to move farther north in the shopping center so Hornbacher’s could expand.

That move was one of the first financial hits to their business.

“At our old location, we did a lot of window dressing because people would walk in that shopping center door to get into Hornbacher’s,” Doug Gramm said. “Down here, we didn’t have that walk-by traffic.”

The bottoming out of the collectible market also hurt business. Items such as Swarovski crystal or Armani collectibles, which could sell for upward of several hundred dollars, are not as popular as they once were. Gifts and collectibles that continue to sell are more within the range of $25 to $30.

Each business that has closed in north Fargo in recent years has affected the profits of other northside businesses, Gramm said.

“Business drives business. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “Every store that left here, we could see our business decrease.”

Northport Shopping Center was home to 18 stores in 1996, its 40th anniversary in business. The shopping center will now house six businesses: Hornbacher’s, Northport Drug, Blockbuster Video, Anytime Fitness, Northport Library and Royal Liquors.

The family sent letters to longtime customers and ran an ad in Sunday’s Forum thanking shoppers for the memories and nearly 50 years of business.

“Doug thinks of the business aspects of closing, and mine is the emotional side of it,” said Sandi. “It’s (the store) been a part of our life, and the people we met here were family.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501