Posted 6/02/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
North Dakota grows entrepreneurs as much as it does wheat.
Nyssa Grey is the owner of Boomtown Babes, which just opened a new location in Tioga next to the Pinnacle station. The Tioga spot follows the original Williston location, which Grey said is highly successful.
At 27, the entrepreneur is seizing opportunities left and right.
Grey is planning to open up more Boomtown locations, and she is starting an environmental cleanup company that utilizes Biochar, a charcoal that absorbs contamination.
“I want to make North Dakota a better place. This is my home now,” Grey said.
While working at a coffee shop in her home state of Washington, she read about waitresses making a killing in the booming economy and set her sights on moving to the Bakken.
It took her a while to find an apartment in Williston, but when she got a call about a vacancy, she snatched it up and arrived in North Dakota with nothing but her savings, having never visited the state before.
That was four years ago.
“It was quite the culture shock,” she said.
Among her first jobs here was a waitress position at Applebee’s, but that didn’t last very long.
“They said I wasn’t very ‘Applebee’s’,” she recalled with a laugh.
She set her sights on opening her own business. Her plan was to open a small coffee shop in a modular unit that catered to the large male population in the area, with attractive baristas serving coffee in hot pants and tight tank tops.
Finding a location was among her more difficult challenges. She needed to lease space on a business’s property, but it was hard to find anyone who could be bothered. Businesses were making so much money, she said, it was hard to get anyone interested in leasing her some space for her modular shop.
“I learned it’s all about who you know. That’s key,” she said.
She finally secured a location and started advertising on the Internet, with the employees posting “selfies” at the start of each shift. With over 4,000 people following the site, it’s apparent the business model has worked.
She scouted a number of possible locations for her second shop and finally settled on something in Tioga, in part because she has friends in town and she found a location.
“There was a trailer with a ‘for sale’ sign and a number on it. So I called,” she said.
She also wanted a location close enough to Williston so she can rotate baristas between the two sites fairly easily.
The Tioga City Commission considered her application around this time last year for a conditional use permit. While there was some hesitation on the part of a couple of commissioners, the business would be complying with city building codes. So the commission approved it.
Since that time, she’s worked her way through other permitting processes, but she finally opened her new location last week.
So far business, she said, hasn’t been as booming as the Williston location.
“I don’t think anyone knows we’re open yet,” she said.
She is currently using baristas from the Williston location but is hoping to hire some locals as soon as she can. Grey said interested applicants can drop their resumes off at the shop anytime it’s open.
Boomtown Babes Tioga is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.