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July 12, 2012

Roch. retailer expands, returns to roots

Today's column is the answer to my tease at the end of Wednesday's piece. In case you don't remember the set-up, here's what I wrote:

The word is that well-known Rochester retailer will soon expand its reach by returning to its roots on the south side.

Look for this local original to have three stores by the time the dust settles this fall.

And here's today's article about this family-owned retail business. Bonus fun fact, the founder of this business was the manager of the old Dayton's store in the Apache Mall.

Long-time Rochester retailer Hers will soon open a third store.

Hers, which has a pair of women’s clothing stores in downtown, is returning to where its first store opened 32 years ago to launch the latest addition to its shops, says owner Bruce Dahlstrom.

07112012hersonplazaThe hope is to open the new store in September in a 1,550-square-foot spot between Champs and Abercrombie & Fitch in the Macy's wing of the Apache Mall. That's the former home of the Prior Avenue shoe store.

Bob and Lorie Dahlstrom, Bruce Dahlstrom's parents, opened the original Hers in the Apache Mall back in 1980. It stayed there for a couple decades before shifting downtown.

Now the next generation is heading south once again to put the Hers name back into the mall mix.

"We believe there's still a local market that we are not addressing, and they're shopping at the Apache Mall," Bruce Dahlstrom says. "So we're going back to where we started."
While his stores in the Shops at University Square and in the Kahler Hotel remain very successful, he says the mall concept and accessibility will help Hers reach customers who don't frequent downtown.

"This one will skew just slightly younger and slightly more fashion-forward than the other two," Dahlstrom says. "And it will be a little heavier on accessories like Vera Bradley handbags."

Look for the younger sister store to open with a staff of about eight. Dahlstrom already has about a dozen employees working in downtown.

This new project is the latest move in a string of many during the past few years.

There was a store expansion in 2005. Then construction disturbed both stores for months in 2007 during the upgrade of the Peace Plaza, and the University of Minnesota Rochester moving into the top two floors of what is now University Square. Hers finally went online in 2009 with the launch of an active e-commerce catalog website.

"Through it all, we've been fortunate to continue to grow," he says.


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