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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Energy, intelligence fuels this Atomic entrepreneur

Karson Keely

Moorhead, MN - It only takes seconds after meeting GaNè Skatvold to notice she possesses what many professionals refer to as the “X-Factor.” That indescribable mixture of a veteran’s intelligence, common sense, self-deprication and business savvy while still approaching her business with a rookie’s energy.

GaNè’s entrepreneurial energy and passion roots back to her adolescent years. “I knew from my junior high days, I wanted to be self-employed.” This drive is what lead GaNè on her entrepreneurial journey.

After graduating from Moorhead High School, GaNè enrolled at Moorhead State University, where she attended classes for two years. Having been influenced by her love of flying and the memories of her father’s small engine plane from the farm, GaNè entered the workforce as a flight attendant for Western Airlines, which later merged with Delta. After five-and-a-half years of flying the friendly skies, GaNè and her husband, Michael, made the choice to have GaNè stay at home with their children Andrew and Charlie.

Then one afternoon, GaNè was reading a magazine when she made the decision to enter the workforce again, only his time she would be self-employed.

“I read an article in Family Circle magazine in 1985 about women having businesses at their homes,” GaNè said. “Then I started a gift basket business called ‘Ultimately Baskets in Moorhead, which I ran for 20 years.”

At this point in GaNè’s life, she was faced with a milestone many home-based entrepreneurs eventually face - the empty nest syndrome.

Displaying that youthful energy and insight, GaNè jumped on the Internet and began searching for her next business venture. She landed on Copperfield Coffee. The coffee house served coffee for about two-and-a-half years before GaNè closed the doors on this progressive business venture.

“Copperfield’s was a $30,000 learning experience,” GaNè said.

The interesting irony related to GaNè’s closing of Copperfield’s is that it eventually opened three additional doors of opportunity. After operating Copperfields for two years, the former owners of Atomic Coffee approached GaNè about purchasing their Atomic Coffee location in downtown Moorhead.

“If I would have never gone through the experience of Copperfield’s, I wouldn’t have been successful with Atomic Coffee,”
GaNè said.

Armed with the experience of making mistakes and overcoming obstacles, GaNè began a barrage of business ventures - opening Bridgeview Liquors, a second Atomic Coffee location, Paragon Office Park and moving the downtown Moorhead location to its current location, off I-94 in South Moorhead.

“When I started the liquor store, I knew zero about the industry,” GaNè said. “I met with the distributors, asked tons of questions, surrounded myself with professionals and began the start-up.”

This aggressive plate of projects was completed in six months (with four months of prior due diligence) and she was able to walk away weeks later knowing each one was operating. It didn’t take long before she was presented with another opportunity that caught her attention. A downtown Fargo location for Atomic Coffee.

GaNe says about 70 percent of her daily coffee business is between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., although there is a night crowd as well. When asked about her nightly clientel, GaNè said, “Each location has its own subculture - soccer moms coming in while their kids are at practice, college students, business folk downtown and van loads of junior high and high school kids hanging out before the dollar movie - we absolutely love the variety of ages and personal interests.”

So what’s next for GaNè? An Atomic South location? Another office park? An interior design business? All would be realistic projects in GaNè’s life, but GaNè has other plans.

“I am going to take a little breather,” she exhales, “It is time to enjoy the fruits of my labor, enjoy the grandkids and keep my options and eyes open for the next business venture.”

Skatvold’s Current
Business Ventures

Atomic Coffee
16 4th St S
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218.299.6161

Atomic Coffee
805 30th Ave. S.
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218.477.6161

Atomic Coffee
222 Broadway
Fargo, ND 58102
Phone: 701.478.6160

Paragon Development, LLC
819 30th Avenue South, Suite 200
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218.284.0429

Bridgeview Liquor
819 30th Avenue South, Suite 200
Moorhead, MN 56560

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