Hot Spot: A tradition that sizzles


Ben Lippert & Anna HansonJuice Editor and Juice Reporter

Dick Fergen, owner of Nick’s Hamburgers, received the 2011 Retailer of the Year Award.

The menu is pretty simple; cheese or no cheese, single or double.

That menu hasn’t changed much since the 1930’s when Nick’s Hamburger Shop first landed on the Brookings scene.

Back then you could get a slider for five cents. The price of sliders has gone up over time, but Nick’s remains a big hit with the Brookings community for their cost-affective burgers and ageless tradition.

Nick’s has undergone some major changes in the last couple years. In 2008 they expanded the inside, essentially doubling the seating capacity.

Dick Fergen, owner of Nick’s Hamburger Shop, mentioned other things he had in mind for Nick’s in the future, but not one of those things included changing the menu.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Fergen said with a chuckle.

From the sizzle of burgers cooking to the salutations from some of the best customer service this side of the Mississippi River, you know you’re in the right place.

Fergen interacts with many of the customers on a first-name basis. He said that he takes great pride in knowing his customers. In fact, it’s the thing he loves most about being owner.

“South Dakota people and Brookings people are amazing,” Fergen said. “Some days I just have to shake my head at how great these people are.”

Fergen has been running the show since August 2004. In that time, Nick’s has gone through some changes in their marketing plan.

About one year ago, Nick’s implemented a text message marking program to reach out to the huge college audience. Practically every student has a cell phone, and most of those students use text messaging as a preferred means of communication.

The text message program is pretty simple. All people have to do is text the word “Nicks” to the number 68398 and they will automatically be put on the text message coupon list.

It’s an opt-in program that people can sign up for at no cost.

Once the customer receives a text coupon, all they have to do is present the text to their cashier to get the discount.

Nick’s has made a lot of progress the past few years, and Fegen’s efforts and success as a business owner haven’t gone unnoticed. He received the “2011 Retailer of the Year Award,” on January 10 at the annual South Dakota Retailers banquet in Pierre.

Fergen was selected for the award by a committee of retailers all throughout the state of South Dakota.

“It was pretty special,” Fergen said. “The only way it could have meant a little bit more would be if my mom and dad were still around.”

If you want to try a taste of Brookings tradition, come to Nick’s, the only place that you can “buy em’ by the bag.”

#1.1918871:3166320673.png:NicksHamburger-GALLAGHER.png:Dick Fergen, Nick?s Hamburger Shop owner, talks with guests sitting around the counter of their newly remodeled restaurant over the busy lunch hour.:Collegian Photo by Robby Gallagher