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Dressed for success, The Nines set to move and expand

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It’s been only one year since Lauren Zima opened up her women’s clothing store The Nines in Detroit Lakes, and already she is planning a huge expansion.

“I’m so excited,” said Zima, “…a little overwhelmed, but very excited.”

Zima and her husband, Steven, have purchased the big commercial space across from her downtown location that was once the old theater.

It more recently housed two different restaurants — the Becker and lastly the 917 Bar & Grill, aptly named for its address 917 Washington Avenue.

The historic location has been vacant and on the market for over four years.

It was an expansion spot the Zimas weren’t even eying up until other location ideas fell through.

“And I was looking out the window one day and thought… what about that spot?” said Zima, who set up an appointment with the realtor to see what the inside looked like.

“And I fell in love with it — I just felt like it was meant to be,” she said. “I loved how you can feel the old glam vibe. There is an old chandelier, exposed brick that gives it an old downtown feel, and I just think the history behind it is so cool.”

Zima says she believes the building is really “special” and has every intention of glamming it up like it was in the old days.

That’ll be quite an undertaking for an old building that Zima says will be completely renovated inside and out.

“The face of the building will look completely different besides the window and the structure,” she said, adding that on the inside, they’ll start with the floors.

“We have to lift up the whole floor because there is a decline in there from it being a theater, so we’re going to level that off,” she said, adding that much like the renovation of her first retail spot, she and her husband (who is a union carpenter by trade) will do much of the work themselves.

“In fact, my husband also bought the building that housed the Red Willow, and so he fixes up buildings on the side,” said Zima.

“And then a couple of the ladies who work for me also do some interior design, so they’ll be helping with the project, too.”

Some walls have already been knocked down inside, and if all goes as planned, Zima hopes to have her store switched over to the new location before Christmas.

Customers can expect the same type of style The Nines offers now, but expanded.

Because the building is exponentially larger than the current location (the main level alone is four times as large), Zima says they will carry much more merchandise with even more variety than what she can carry now.

“And then we’ll add some more dressing rooms, too, because like on Saturdays the lines to the dressing rooms are really long,” she said.

Zima also says she may be thinking of expanding beyond the clothing, jewelry, shoes and purses The Nines currently carries, but exactly what is still in the works.

The plan, Zima says, is to run the retail store out of the main level of the building, while using the upstairs for the online section of her store. That’s ended up being a successful aspect of her business that she never saw coming.

“We ship all over the country now,” she said, “and we don’t even have a website yet.”

A big Facebook following has paved the way for a lot of over-the-phone sales just based on photos she posts of her and other sales staff modeling the merchandise.

Having an entire upstairs space to just handle that end of things will be nice, she said, adding that the plan is to eventually use the top as a retail spot as well.

“But we’re saving up for an elevator,” she laughed, “and that’s like $100,000.”

For Zima, a Moorhead native with a flair for fashion, Detroit Lakes has ended up being quite a hot spot for her dream.

“We had no idea it would take off like this,” she said. “I had a very small goal for myself to open a place that was fun to work at, and I didn’t really care if it made that much money, but it ended up doing that, and I think it’s because I’m having so much fun, the staff has fun, and so the customers end up having fun, too.”

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

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