In an effort to challenge online competition or an area Bismarck business bias, Mandan store and restaurant owners are implementing strategies that offer an experience beyond an exchange of cash for services rendered. In many cases, the tactics are successfully driving traffic.
From floral workshops at Beyond the Blooms to learning to mix cocktails at Thomas & Moriarty's, the approach is adding appeal to downtown Mandan. Fledgling businesses — leading what appears to be a small cultural revolution — are partnering with one another to create a unique experience.
"It is exciting to see that collaboration," said Ellen Huber, Mandan Business Development's director. "It is fabulous."
New business owners say they experience a camaraderie that extends beyond money.
"We all share the same struggles," said Stacy Sturm, co-owner of Thomas & Moriarty's, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last week. "I think we realize Mandan needs a little help getting people to come across the river and even staying across the river. The more you can promote each other and band together, the better the chance of people seeing the value of what Mandan has to offer."
While Sturm focuses on providing at least one seminar, class or educational event a month, Melanie Lennie of Beyond the Blooms is looking to Valentine's Day to team up with Dakota Nuts-N-Candy for a Roses and Candy special. Then she is partnering with Prairie Patriot Firearms for its Date Night on Valentine's Day and providing roses there for the couples.
"We have had some pretty great responses to our collaborations so far and will continue to reach out and work together in the future," said Lennie, who opened her business on Nov. 1.
The new energy has brought some to characterize downtown Mandan as up-and-coming, a phrase used by Hannah Schafer, one of the owners of Dialectic Brewing Company, which opened May 14.
"Currently, many people do not recognize Mandan as a fun place to be, but we hope to change those perspectives," said Schafer, who aims to draw interest with soup and chili competitions, game nights, beer dinners and will soon be adding educational events about beer to the business repertoire.
In particular, Dialectic Brewing will be partnering with Das Mountain from 3 to 8 p.m. Feb. 23 for a serving of fleischkuchle with a side of locally crafted beer.
The new flavors in downtown Mandan are drawing interest from other prospective business owners who are beginning to see the area as a destination.
Mandan High School graduates Cody Stern and Alan Miller are renovating the former Dakota Four Seasons Heating and Air building at 417 W. Main St., where they plan to open Old Ten Bar and Grill by June. The restaurant will feature family-friendly and adult sections with a menu ranging from appetizers and sandwiches to lavosh, steaks and pasta, according to Mandan's Business Development Community Report 2018.
Existing business owners in Mandan say they are open to newcomers.
"People ask us all the time, 'What if another bar moved in next to you?' We'd love that. If it brings more people to our area, we're ecstatic. You actually feed each other business. The more the merrier," Sturm said.