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Cards for every occasion: Kilweins launch Creative Cards & Gifts

The employees of Creative Cards & Gifts includes, at left, Mary Ann Chaska, JoLynn Magdstadt, owner Ryan Kilwein, Marge Hitchrick and manager Jody Hecker. Additional employees include Sarah Fast, Ahava Johnson, Jenniefer Weflen and Chantel Keller. (Linda Sailer/The Dickinson Press)

Creative Cards and Gifts was opened in Prairie Hills Mall as the vision of owners Ryan and Nicole Kilwein of Dickinson.

"It's something Dickinson needed," Nicole said. "It definitely filled a void here after Hallmark left—everyone goes to the mall for cards."

"We need to support our local businesses, and to support our state in general—everything, police, fire, schools—is related to that," Ryan added.

Finding employees was easy—they moved down the hallway from a previous greeting card store.

"We have over 100 years of experience in the industry," Ryan said, referring to the shop's employees. "Customer service is a big thing—they're always willing to help—to be there for the customer."

"We love it here," said sales associate JoLynn Magstadt. "We've been at this store for a while, so we've established a good rapport with our customers."

The store manager is Jody Hecker. Sales associates also include Mary Ann Chaska, Marge Hitchrick, Sarah Fast, Ahava Johnson, Jennifer Weflen and Chantel Keller.

Creative Cards, which opened Dec. 19, 2016, has greeting cards for every holiday—126 feet of cards, with 40 feet of gift wrap.

"We have 12 feet of Valentine's," said Ryan. "Our biggest holidays are Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day."

In addition, there are gifts for a variety of special occasions, including kitchen gadgets, baby items, faith items, home decor, metal signs and even gifts for pets.

"We have customized LED signs that I've made," Ryan continued. "We want to build support for Pride of Dakota—to support our local artists."

The Kilweins chose the mall location because of its shopping convenience and North Dakota's unpredictable weather.

"The mall is great to work with," Ryan said. "People looking at starting a business should check out their options—don't leave a stone unturned."

Creative Cards & Gifts is the second business that Ryan and Nicole Kilwein have started in Dickinson.

"I guess working hard and building businesses are kind of in my blood," Ryan said.

The husband-and-wife team also own a cleaning and snow removal business called RLK Enterprises. That's been going since 2012.

Ryan credits his parents with his zeal to be an entrepreneur.

"I started delivering The Dickinson Press when I was eight," he said. "I guess it taught me responsibility and about money. Back then we used to collect from the customer, and if they moved, you were stuck with the bill."

He moved on to work as a carry out for Albertsons.

"That definitely taught me customer service," he added.

Today, Ryan works as an electrician with his dad, Robin Kilwein in B & K Electric. Nicole is employed by Northern Plains Engineering and coaches girls basketball at Trinity High School.

If being an entrepreneur didn't keep him busy enough, Ryan loves Special Olympics. He's participated in numerous fundraisers for the team. This year, the team is headed to the national games in Seattle. He's currently looking for plungers and prizes for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge on March 24.

If Kilwein could share just one message, it's this: "The biggest thing is to shop locally. Support your local community first, so they can support everyone else around you."