'Find keepsakes' at JQ Clothing: Medora retail business offers something for everyone
“There’s a little bit of something for everyone. You come with your family, your kids can find something, the moms can find something, the dads can find something,” Jessica Quandt, owner of JQ Clothing, said.
MEDORA, N.D. — Celebrating her fifth season in Medora, Jessica Quandt of JQ Clothing is seeing more international traffic, which was halted drastically two years ago with the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. Quandt is hopeful for a successful season, with future plans to expand her store timeframe from seasonal to full-time.
“... Being in that location it is literally, I say this every year, just complete joy because everybody’s in a happy mood,” Quandt said. “They love Medora once they get there; they just love being there and it’s just great. The conversations that you have and the people that you meet, you’ll never find that anywhere. It’s one of the most amazing places. It really is.”
Owner of JQ Clothing, Quandt opened her first and the original location of her business in 2013 in Oakes, North Dakota. Opening her storefront in Medora has always been an aspiration for Quandt.
“We travel to Medora. My family and I, we ride horses a lot. So we’ve been going out there for years and I love that town,” she said. “... For years, there was never any retail space available in Medora.”
After coming across a post that was looking for a retail business, she quickly hopped on her Medora dream, signing the lease at the beginning of 2018 and getting her storefront ready for opening that summer.
“It was a whirlwind of a couple of months, but I just said, ‘This is something that I want to do.’ And my family was on board with it. So we opened the store kind of on a whim out there just because it’s a place that I love and it’s been amazing,” she said. “Even though it’s a tourist community… the locals are amazing. We have a huge contingency of local shoppers.”
When she opened in Medora five years ago, her store mainly featured women’s boutique clothing from small to 3X as well as Medora and North Dakota merchandise such as gifts items for both children and adults.
This year, JQ Clothing has expanded its space. One side of the store displays all child-related items. She added that some families when on vacation like to treat their children to one special item, and JQ Clothing provides that affordable option. Along with a children’s section, the store also features some men's items.
“The one thing that we always got when the families would open the doors, the kids would be like, ‘This is a girls store.’ Or, ‘This is a mom store,’” Quandt said, explaining, “... We just really wanted to capitalize on that because Medora is like a family place. So this gives more selection and variety for kids. So there’s lots of kids toys, there’s kids clothing, just fun little things for traveling.”
Since opening her store in the old western town, Quandt has dealt with some struggles, especially in 2020.
“The pandemic was a little bit scary because we always purchase all of our inventory in that late December, early January timeframe because… it’s a little bit slower in some of our other stores,” she said. “... So we had just literally ordered all of our freight and had started getting boxes of freight in and then, the pandemic hit.”
Like countless other business owners in Medora who rely on summer tourism, that time was “nerve wracking.” However, despite the setback, “Medora saw an exceptional year,” she added.
“We saw people from across the country… trying to get out of the cities and where places were closed, they were doing the National Park tour. And so, Theodore Roosevelt National Park was one on their list. And so, we saw a ton of influx; the numbers that we had in 2020 — traffic wise and dollar wise — were far better than 2019, which was not what we expected. But it was amazing,” she recalled.
So far this summer , Quandt said they’re seeing a significant amount of customers. Outside JQ Clothing, there’s a world map where people traveling through can mark where they come from. This year, Quandt noted that she’s seeing more international traffic for the first time in two years.
In 2021, Quandt also opened up a new location in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. For her Medora store location, she’s hoping to continue expanding her space to increase their inventory, while also looking at the possibility of lengthening their time in Medora instead of only being open on a seasonal basis.
“ Medora is really trying to be more of a year-round town where we host events throughout the year and we are there for the locals. So it would be really nice for us to be able to have somebody out there more on a full-time basis where we can be open after the busy season,” she noted.
Whether taking a Sunday cruise from Dickinson or those traveling from far beyond, Quandt encourages people to check out her retail business while stopping in Medora.
“There’s a little bit of something for everyone. You come with your family, your kids can find something, the moms can find something, the dads can find something,” she said. “You can find keepsakes that are significant to Medora or significant to North Dakota.”
JQ Clothing, located at 338 Pacific Ave., is open from now until Labor Day. For more information, call 701-742-5638 or visit jqclothingco.com .