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Fargo's Northern Home Furniture going out of business

FARGO - Northern Home Furniture and Design in the historic Ford Building is calling it quits.

The upscale store is closing at the end of business today, Sept. 21, giving workers time to prepare for a liquidation sale starting with an invitation-only event Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 26-27.

The sale then opens to the general public starting Friday, Sept. 28, and runs until all merchandise is sold.

Store Manager Sheila Hanson says several factors led to the decision to close the store on the first floor of 505 Broadway, chiefly losing sales to the growing popularity of internet shopping and people moving away from purchasing high-quality furniture.

"The furniture industry today, it's a hard business, especially with the mid- to high-end" products Northern Home carries, Hanson said. "A lot of the furniture that we carry ... are heirloom pieces that you can hand down. If you care for them properly, you can hand them down for generations."

Northern Home has been part of downtown since it was first opened at 300 Northern Pacific in 2001. Founder and owner Kevin Bartram later moved the store to its current location in September 2006, after he purchased and renovated the Ford Building.

Hanson, who has worked at the store since it first opened, was already retagging furniture and accessories Friday morning.

"It's sad. I mean it's just a sad situation," Hanson said.

Robert Putt, CEO of SMART Furniture Promotions, is running the liquidation.

"We're expecting crowds," Putt said.

Putt said custom orders for furniture will be taken at sale prices, and a trunk show will also be held for rugs, "so people can finish their projects."

The sale is expected to last six to eight weeks, Bartram said Friday.

Bartram, the principal architect and owner of Mutchler Bartram Architects PC, said the decision to close Northern Home came down to a diminishing bottom line.

Sales had dropped over time and "just weren't where they need to be," Bartram said.

Bartram said talks have already been held with a couple potential tenants.

Another business, InterOffice Workspace Furniture on the mezzanine level, may be moved to what Bartram called the "Rail Yard Development," where Drekker Brewing recently opened their "Brewhalla."

A plan calls for remodeling another building there for InterOffice, which would give it room to expand.

"We're excited about that," Bartram said.

The Ford Building was built in 1915 as an assembly plant for Model T cars. Ford Motor Co. owned the building until 1956.

It later housed an appliance store and a printing company before being purchased by Bartram.

Mutchler Bartram Architects PC and Sterling Companies moved into office space on the second floor, while the third floor was converted to high-end condominiums.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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