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By Craig McEwen, Published April 29 2004

Fargo craft store relocates

Michaels Arts and Crafts will open its new 24,000-square-foot store at noon Sunday in West Fargo.

"We started moving products last Tuesday (April 20)," said store manager KaDee McKinnon.

The new store – 8,000 square feet larger than the former 16,000-square-foot store – is brighter with wider aisles, McKinnon said.

Located at 1638 13th Ave. E., it will employ 35 sales associates, about the same as at the previous store, McKinnon said.

"We're always looking for new opportunities," said Asita Sheikh, real estate counsel with Michaels' corporate offices in Irving, Texas.

"We're generally just looking to upgrade our stores to the most current prototype," Sheikh said.

That means expanding to close to 24,000 square feet and using a configuration that fits Michaels' merchandising strategy, she said.

As of January, Michaels had 798 stores in the United States and Canada, averaging 18,000 square feet, 40,000 items and $3.8 million in annual sales, according to its corporate Web site.

The former Fargo store at 4340 13th Ave. S.W. in the TJ Maxx Plaza did $4.2 million in sales, McKinnon said. "This store, we're going to be a $4.6 million store. Next year I can foresee us being $5 million.

"The number one reason we got this store is we were such a high-volume store at the old store," she said.

Customers will see significant changes. The scrapbooking area has expanded from four aisles to nine. "Scrapbooking is big in Fargo," McKinnon said.

The Fargo store ranks 32nd among Michaels stores nationwide in bead sales, she said. "So our bead sales are expanding."

Of the 12 stores in this district, Michaels of Fargo ranks first in wedding supply sales. The yarn display area will triple in size, McKinnon said.

The store will continue to offer classes such as cake decorating, beading and painting in its activity center at the front of the store.

Each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Michaels will offer a Kids Club, where children can make crafts while their parents are shopping, McKinnon said. The charge is $2 except May 8, when it will be free as part of the store's grand opening.

The former store closes on Saturday with clearance items now discounted at 70 percent off, and 90 percent off on Saturday, McKinnon said.

Michael's is a publicly held company (NYSE:MIK). It reported a record net income of $177.8 million in 2003.

In August 2003, Hobby Lobby opened its first store in North Dakota at 4427 13th Ave. S.W. in Fargo.

The 50,000-square-foot store opened in a former Kmart, employing 50-55 full- and part-time workers.

Hobby Lobby, with headquarters in Oklahoma City, had 321 stores operating in 27 states as of this month, according to its company Web site.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502