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Richardton: 'A growing community'

Bella Salon stylist Neilie Dockter goes to work on a new hairdo for 11-year-old Elle Goetz Tuesday afternoon. The Richardton salon recently moved into a renovated space in an office building on North Avenue.

RICHARDTON - This sleepy town 20 minutes east of Dickinson along Interstate 94 is getting less sleepy.

Partially because of its proximity to the Bakken oil play and its boomtown neighbor to the West, Richardton is getting to be a busier and busier place these days.

The Stark County town of about 600 is home to a new 10,000-square-foot grocery store, several new businesses in the past few years, and a general feeling among local business owners that things are picking up, even though no oil rigs or pump jacks can be seen surrounding the town.

"Richardton is a growing community," said Springfield Market owner Tanja Goellner, a Richardton native and owner of the store. "I live in Fargo now, but I graduated from high school in Richardton in 1993 and since I've been back, you can really tell that western North Dakota is bursting at the seams."

A full-service grocery store complete with a deli, bakery and sit-down dining area, Goellner said the market has received a nice welcome from the community since its opening in March.

"We've been getting great community support," Goellner said. "We seem to get someone every day who says 'Wow, we didn't even know you guys were here.'"

Calling the market a "big town store as far as selection in a small town," Goellner said many people in and around the town have told her they prefer to shop in Richardton, rather than making the trip into the hustle and bustle of Dickinson, one of the fastest-growing micropolitan areas in the nation.

"A lot of people don't like leaving the Richardton area because they don't want to deal with the traffic," Goellner said. "We hear that all the time. I think some people are surprised at the selection that we can offer."

Jerome Reynaert owns construction contracting company Valtex in Richardton and said he's noticed an uptick in activity in the town since he opened his business' doors in early 2012.

"You can tell there's a lot more stuff going on," Reynaert said. "I think Richardton is only going to continue to get interest from people. It still has a small town feel, yet it's only 20 miles from everything that's going on in Dickinson and in other areas of western North Dakota. We try to only go within a 30- or 40-mile radius, but we're still very busy. We're hiring for several positions."

Though her business isn't new to town, Bella Salon owner Marcy Kuntz said she's noticed more traffic in town and said there's a feeling that the business climate is becoming more and more positive.

"We're nice and busy," Kuntz said Tuesday afternoon, though she only had a few minutes to talk between appointments. "There's more people and more going on in Richardton and that's bringing attention to the businesses here. I had to hire another person at the salon, but we still have a small town feel here."

Offering a full list of services from hair coloring to manicure, pedicures and a tension-releasing treatment Kuntz specializes in called "core synchronism," the salon -- which was formerly known as SPA Ten -- is located in a renovated area in a newly refurbished business office building along North Avenue in Richardton.

Richardton is also now home to a veterinary clinic and, if all goes according to plan, will soon be welcoming a new law office.

Though it may not ever be the size of Dickinson -- and that's likely just fine with most Richardtonians -- the town is changing and that's a welcome sign for business owners.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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