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1348 posts categorized "Retail news"

January 27, 2015

Options abound for one of Rochester's oldest storefronts

While many are speculating about the future of a 129-year-old building in the heart of Rochester's downtown, the owners say they haven't locked down a plan yet.

549b9e10ed075.imageThe long-empty former Paine Furniture store at 313 S. Broadway was purchased by local developers Hal Henderson and Grant Michelitz in November. The deal also included the attached 309 S. Broadway building now occupied by Big Brad's bar on Broadway.

Some renovation work and installation of new windows is being done on the second floor, said Henderson. They also hope to build a skyway across the alley to connect the Paine building to the 318 Commons building, also owned by Henderson and Michelitz.

The University of Minnesota Rochester leases space in the 318 Commons building for student housing, office space and classrooms. A connecting skyway could make the second floor of Paine building attractive to UMR.

"We do foresee space crunches in our growth plan prior to the development of the future campus," said Jay Hesley, assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement. While no decisions have been made, Hesley acknowledged the university had looked at the second floor of the Paine building.

"We've certainly explored all of the different opportunities that are available, and that was certainly one of them on the list," he said.

Henderson said there have been preliminary talks with UMR officials about the Paine building. He also said an option is to demolish the Paine complex and put up a building that would be a sibling to 318 Commons.

"I do have more real estate on that block," he said. "In the future, we may have a plan that we may try to unveil or look at pretty seriously." Henderson owns the adjacent Cafe Steam at 315 S. Broadway and the Canvas & Chardonnay building at 317 S. Broadway. "It all depends on what transpires in the next three to six months" with Destination Medical Center and the university's plans, he said. "I think right now, everyone is still leaving their options open."

January 23, 2015

WSN buying empty Home Design Studio on W. Circle Drive

After being empty for years, new life is on the way for a former home construction showroom in northwest Rochester. 

Widseth Smith Nolting, a Crookston-based engineering and architecture firm, announced this week it has signed a purchase agreement to buy the former Home Design Studio from Rochester's Event Studio LLC. The 32,000-square-foot complex is located at 3777 40th Ave. NW, along West Circle Drive.

HomeDesignDusk2-10x8_editedThe sale is expected to close in March with a build-out beginning in April, according to WSN. The plan is for WSN to move its increasingly crowded Rochester office into 11,000 square feet of the building by August.

"We are absolutely shoe-horned in here," said Brian Carlson, WSN's director of business development, of their current 4,500-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road NW. "We need to provide the space and resources for our team members to do what they do best."

WSN opened its Med City office in 2009, when it merged with QED Engineering. In 2014, it merged with Rochester's Kane and Johnson Architects. WSN now has 20 employees based here. WSN has a total of seven offices and 200 employees in Minnesota and North Dakota

The firm plans to lease the rest of the building to other tenants, probably to other professional offices. This is a very different fate than was expected for the Home Design Studio building. It opened for the first time in 2006 at the height of the construction boom, which imploded soon after.

It was designed by Kane and Johnson Architects as a home builders' showroom with model kitchens, bathrooms and other room layouts. Lead by local contractor Jerome Bigelow, a group of 13 owners optimistically launched the operation with a grand party attended by hundreds of Rochester business leaders. It had 59 people on staff working for a variety of construction-related businesses. The last occupants moved out in April 2012.

Event Studio LLC, of Rochester, then bought the unique complex from Partnership 10, of Byron, in 2013 for $1.3 million. Event Studio lists Rochester developer Dan Penz as manager on its incorporation documents.

Then in 2014, WSN began the search for a larger space in Rochester.

"We looked at lot of different buildings all around the city. We really like this building," Carlson said. "We liked the exposure. We liked the location and the ability to have our whole team in one spot."

December 30, 2014

Strip mall with Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe sold

A 68-year-old commercial center in northwest Rochester recently sold for $765,000.

The strip mall at 902 Seventh St. N.W., anchored by Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, was purchased by Song H. Hong on Dec. 1. HonYeoldebuildingg also owns Safechoice Insurance Agency, which is based in the center.

Other tenants in the Seventh Street plaza include Catering By Design and Jakobson Management Co. The brick-and-concrete center was built in 1946, according to Olmsted County property records.

Hong bought the building from HRB LLC, which state records list as being based at 1830 Second St. S.E. HRB purchased it back in 2001 from RC Properties of St. Paul for $900,000, according to county records.

December 15, 2014

Longtime used book store sells to new owner

The cover and title will remain the same, but the "author" of a local used book shop is changing in the start of 2015.

Erik Olson is taking over the 34-year-old Paperback Book Palace from longtime owner Karen Meyer, who is retiring. The shop is in the Cedarwood Plaza, 4106 18th Ave. N.W.

Store"I see nothing but potential," said Olson, who has been a customer of the shop since it opened in 1980.

While he intends to expand the shop's online presence, Olson has no big changes planned for the business. The store exchanges used paperbacks for in-store credits of 21 percent of the book's original price. Credit slips are good for a year. Those books then go on the shelves priced at 53 percent of the original price.

"She has a very loyal customer base," he said. "This time of year, we're getting a lot of snowbirds coming in to stock up on books for the winter."

Olson says the Paperback Book Palace has about 25,000 books on its shelves in the 800-square-foot shop.

"It's a pretty cozy environment," he said.

Meyer's two part-time employees are staying on with the store. The main change for customers will be that Olson will replace Meyer as the primary face of the store.

He notes that though it has moved three times since opening, the Paperback Book Palace has long been a mainstay of the Rochester business scene.

"With all of the closings lately, I think it's nice to see something stick around," Olson said.

December 03, 2014

Paine Furniture building sold for $1.7 million

New local owners hope to breathe new life into a 129-year-old building in downtown Rochester.

Get_photoOn Nov. 20, local developers Grant Michelitz and Hal Henderson purchased the long-empty former Paine Furniture store site at 313 S. Broadway as well as the 309 S. Broadway building now occupied by Big Brad's on Broadway. The pair acquired the property from Cedric Paine under a Contract for Deed deal for $1.7 million. Michelitz said negotiations for the sale have been ongoing since the Paine Furniture store closed in 2006.

While they plan to upgrade and restore the property, Michelitz says no deals for new tenants have been signed yet.

"The word leaked out pretty quick. We have got several meetings with prospective tenants coming up here in the next week or so," he said. "We're already invested in that block. We like the direction that it is going in."

The business partners also own the nine-story 318 Commons complex used by the University of Minnesota for student housing and classes. It's behind the Paine site facing First Avenue. Henderson, the principal in the Rochester office of HGA Architects and Engineers, also owns the adjacent Press Coffee & Tea Lounge at 315 S. Broadway and the Canvas & Chardonnay building at 317 S. Broadway.

Michelitz owns the 220 and 222 buildings across Broadway from the Paine site. They both have been renovated in a classic style similar to what is expected to happen at the Paine building.

If the weather allows yet this year, they hope to soon replace the second-story windows with double hung ones that better match the original design of the building, said Michelitz. They also expect to add an elevator and stairway tower on the alley side of the building to make the second story accessible.

Built in 1885, the 313 building housed the Paine Furniture Co. for 104 years from 1902 to 2006. In 1927, the Paines expanded into the 309 building, which had been home to the Klee grocery store and the Stedman bakery prior to that.

This sale is the latest in a long string of business changes and real-estate sales in Rochester's downtown.

Michaels restaurant, Barnes & Noble bookstore and Sontes all have announced they will close at the end of this month, and Hanny's Men's Wear is closing its street-level store.

Michelitz declined to speculate on the future of the area, but seemed optimistic.

"It is really fluid right now. I think we all hope for smart growth," he said.

November 18, 2014

In praise of shoes, Hawley opens Luya Shoes in Zumbrota

Connie Hawley really, really loves shoes and sees them as art.

She has now brought that vision to life on Zumbrota's Main Street in her new store, Luya Shoes and Other Fine Things. The 4,000-square-foot store carries footwear of all kinds for women, men and young children.

10305598_10154867691090571_6430566947257334096_n"Shoes are very sculptural. Even if you aren't wearing it, you can see it in a box or in a closet and it is beautiful. Shoes make people happy," Hawley said.

Since these "sculptures" are ones that people wear, she says it's equally important for them to be as comfortable and durable as they are attractive.

"I've tried to find brands and styles you can't find anywhere else in the area," Hawley said.

10670270_867058883338632_8450038742804535500_nShe has hand-made moccasins from Spring Grove and popular brands that include OTBT, Rieker, Naot, Corky's Footwear and Corral boots. Luya also carries jewelry, belts and purses, including Baggallini bags. For men, Hawley also has conditioners for beards as well as related gift baskets and accessories.

Adding to the art gallery feel of her store, she displays her products on cabinets and shelves refinished by Jim Hahler of Hahler Restoration and Design. She also has artwork by three local artists for sale on the walls.

The one big question remaining is: What's the story behind the name Luya?

Hawley explained that she has talked about opening a shoe store for many years. Part of that dream also was playing on her last name of Hawley and calling the shop something like HawleyLuya, pronounced like hallelujah.

"I realized it was kind of crazy and a bit too long and too hard to say," she said. "But I still liked Luya, so that's what I went with."

Christian Book and Gift to close after 57 years

After 57 years on North Broadway, the family-owned Christian Book and Gift Shop announced Monday it will close its doors for good on Dec. 31.

264155_10150248194599430_474142_nIn a note to customers, owner/manager Karen Mulholland McKenzie and co-manager Judy Mulholland stated it was a heart-breaking decision to close the store at 815 N. Broadway.

Christian Book and Gift was launched by Karen's parents, Dennis and Elaine Mulholland, in 1957, when they purchased the Home Book Shop from Harry Boyer. They ran the store for many years out of the family’s nearby home on North Broadway, until expanding into the commercial store and growing it into one of the largest stores of its kind in the region.

“We’d ... like to express our deep sense of grief over no longer being able to provide this service to our customers and our community," they wrote. "There are myriad challenges in running a Christian retail business and independent bookstore — challenges that require youth and energy to stay in the game."

As the store has struggled, the Mulhollands have been talking to several Christian retailer chains looking for a buyer, but they were unable line up anyone to take over the store.

The store temporarily closed on Monday to prepare for a "Going Out of Business" sale and will re-open with marked down products on Thursday.

In their statement, the family voiced their appreciation for their "loyal customers" and their 11 employees, "many of whom have been with the bookstore through several building expansions and countless story times, summer tent sales and events with local and national Christian authors."

This announcement follows on the heels on the recent sale of the store, its parking lot and four houses to Samaritan Bethany. The senior living facility is just across Eighth Street from the book store, and its employee parking lot is adjacent to it. Samaritan Bethany closed on the purchase on Oct. 31.

"We have no current plans for the property," said Sue Knutson of Samaritan Bethany. "When we expanded the lot a while back, we let everyone in the neighborhood know that we'd be interested in buying property in the area. The siblings recently decided they were ready to sell."

Knutson said Samaritan Bethany had intended to lease the 7,500-square-foot store to the family, so they could keep the business running. Now that it's closing, she said they will look for a retailer to take over the space.

The Mulhollands also hope another business will step into the space.

"Our prayer is that a business person with a heart for this type of store will come to the area and open a great shop that will meet the changing needs in this community,” they wrote in their announcement.

November 12, 2014

New specialty grocer to build in S.W. Rochester

A new specialty chain is on its way to Rochester, joining an already crowded grocery scene.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, based in Golden, Colo., has filed plans with city to build a 14,000-square-foot store on an open lot in southwest Rochester by the TJ Maxx Plaza and the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center

Get_photoThink Mutual Bank owns the store site, which is at the corner of Greenview Drive and Salem Road Southwest. Think had planned to build there, but recently the bank announced it planned to offer the plot for development.

This will be Natural Grocers first store in Minnesota, though the 59-year-old public company currently operates 84 stores in 14 states, with 10 more expected to open soon.

While it generally is described as a specialty food retailer, Natural Grocers is very different than Hy-Vee, Trader Joe's or Aldi. It sells only organic foods as well as an extensive selection of vitamins and dietary supplements. The chain's website says its stores devote about 30 percent of their shelf space to vitamins, which in turn generate about 30 percent of its revenue.

"It looks like it goes deeper and more narrow than a mainstream grocery store. It is much more like a Whole Foods or a co-op," said Jonathan Seltzer, a St. Thomas University business professor.

Seltzer, who previously worked at the Supervalu grocery chain, doesn't think the addition of Natural Grocers to Rochester should hurt any one retail competitor more than others.

"It will probably draw some customers from many different players," he said.

This new store is just one factor in what is becoming a very competitive grocery scene in Rochester. Discount grocer Aldi is building its second store here and Hy-Vee plans to start construction of its fourth location in early 2015. The city's other food retailers include Cub Foods, Fareway Foods, Zzest, Walmart and Target.

"It seems that you are getting more square footage devoted to food retail in Rochester than the population would warrant," said Seltzer. "That probably speaks to the strength of Rochester's economy and its draw from nearby areas."


Groceries on the way
  * Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is proposing to build a 14,000-square-foot store in southwest Rochester. No projected opening date.

* Hy-Vee is planning to build a fourth Rochester location, a 90,000-square-foot store at 4200 West Circle Drive N.W. The goal is have it completed and open by late summer or early fall of 2015.

* Aldi is building a 17,000-square-foot store, its second in Rochester on the northwest side. The goal is to open in April 2015.

September 04, 2014

Pending real estate deal spurs flower shop move

Flowers By Jerry will soon move its Third Avenue shop because a pending real estate deal could change scenery on the high-profile Rochester corner.

04092014flowersbyjerrybuckeyeOwner Kevin Patton says the sale of his building at 410 Third Ave. S.E. is in the works along with the adjacent Buckeye Liquor building, which he also owns. Robert and Diane Satterwhite own Buckeye and lease the building from Patton.

Patton is shifting his business offices and the floral design from the Third Street shop to Flowers By Jerry's other location by Silver Lake. That change could happen by the end of this month.

"We're consolidating that part of the business, but we're also branching out," said Patton said.

Patton is opening another store, Flowers By Jerry Lux Floral Boutique, in the TJ Maxx Plaza in southwest Rochester to replace the Third Street location. As the different name would suggest, this new location will be a new take of the standard flower shop.

Patton describes it as mix of a floral store with a women's clothing boutique with clothing, jewelery and home decor.

The floral boutique will be located just outside the entrance of TJ Maxx. Flowers By Jerry will move into the 2,500-square-foot space left open by Fox Nails' recent move to a new spot on the other side of the atrium.

If everything goes as planned, it's expected to be ready to open by the start of November, if not sooner. With all of the changes, Patton anticipates he may eventually need to add a new part-time position or two to his current staff of about 20.

While all of these plans are moving forward, details about what will happen on the corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street are scarce at this point. The sale of the Flowers By Jerry and Buckeye Liquors buildings could close by the end of this month. However, Patton isn't discussing the buyer or any other details until it officially wraps up.

Given that corner's proximity to downtown and the Olmsted County Government/Rochester City Hall, some are speculating that the purchase of those two buildings is a sign that a developer wants to build a new commercial center, restaurant or hotel.

New Scheels store shaping up

Lots of activity at the new Scheels All Sports mega-store site at Rochester's Apache Mall this balmy "fall" morning.

04092014scheelsConstruction and partial demolition of the former Sears store site has been rolling along all through the summer on this new sprawling addition to the Med City's sporting goods offering.

Fargo, N.D.-based Scheels estimates that it will be ready to open in early April 2015. The planned 140,000-square foot store will be larger than the 120,000-square-foot Scheels in Mankato.

It is expected to add between 120 to 180 new jobs toScheelsmap2 Rochester.

In addition to sporting goods, its features will include a fudge and coffee bar and a mini bowling alley.

The development for the expanded store also includes Apache Mall adding 9,000-square-foot restaurant site on the east side of the city water tower. 

There's no word yet on what restaurant might be planned for that site.