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R.I.P. Posts

So long, West Duluth Kmart

The Kmart store in my neighborhood closed last weekend. Now there’s a giant empty space in the Spirit Valley Mall in West Duluth, with a faded area above the doors where a sign once read: “Big Kmart.”

It took more than 30 years for the store to run itself out of business, and I’d probably need a degree in finance and a long look inside the books of parent company Sears Holdings Corporation to ever understand. How does a neighborhood’s only department store — a place that’s known for always having lines at the cash registers — go out of business?

The answer to that question might be that retail stores are struggling in general, and any store with massive overhead costs that provides a lousy shopping experience doesn’t stand a chance. And the West Duluth Kmart was a lousy shopping experience.

The lines at Kmart perhaps weren’t due to the high volume of traffic, but instead the understaffing at the store. Target or Wal-Mart might have a dozen checkouts open at once; Kmart seldom had more than two.

R.I.P. Carter Hotel

The Duluth News Tribune reports the vacant Carter Hotel building at 17 N. Second Ave. E. will be torn down. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will replace it with a surface parking lot for its Fond-du-Lac Casino.

R.I.P. Marlin “Bud” Nelson of Madeline Island Oasis

Visitors to Madeline Island this summer will discover one of its icons has passed on. Marlin “Bud” Nelson, proprietor of the Madeline Island Oasis, died earlier this year. A celebration of life event is planned for Saturday, June 23.

R.I.P. Sears, Roebuck and Company of Duluth

Sears, Roebuck and Company’s Downtown Duluth department store; 1963 photo from the Kathryn A. Martin Library’s Northeast Minnesota Historical Collections at UMD.

The news broke this week that Sears Holdings will close 15 Kmart stores and 48 Sears stores, including the Sears at Miller Hill Mall and the Kmart at the Spirit Valley Shopping Center in West Duluth.

Sears has been in business in Duluth since 1929, when Sears, Roebuck and Company opened a department store at 129 E. Superior St., the modern-day location of Fond-du-Luth Casino.

Johnson’s Bakery will close Lakeside location

Johnson’s Bakery announced Saturday on Facebook it will close its Lakeside location. Operations will continue at the original Johnson’s Bakery in Duluth’s West End.

“It is with regret that we must close our retail location in Lakeside,” the Facebook post stated. “We have GREATLY appreciated our loyal customers; our Lakeside employees have LOVED working with you. Many of you have been so kind to those employees as they have made different life transitions.”

An exact closing date has not been determined, but the Facebook post indicates it will be “no later than the end of April.”

R.I.P. West Duluth Video Vision, Mariner Mall Younkers

Two longtime Twin Ports stores will soon close. Fox 21 reports the West Duluth Video Vision store will close this week. The Duluth News Tribune reports Younkers in Superior’s Mariner Mall will close within 12 weeks.

R.I.P. Epic Restaurant and Lounge

Northern Waters Restaurant will close Dec. 31

Just two years after opening, the Northern Waters Restaurant at Mount Royal Shopping Center will close. A news release from owners Eric and Lynn Goerdt indicates the business has been sold and a new restaurant will replace it in early 2018.

R.I.P. MP: Morgan Park School preliminary demolition underway

Demolition of outbuildings on the Morgan Park School site began this week. Developer Aaron Schweiger plans to construct several 12-plex apartment buildings on the property. It will be called Morgan Park Estates.

R.I.P. How Sweet it is Cakes

Eileen and Bob Brown are closing How Sweet it is Cakes on Wednesday after more than 20 years in business.

“This has been the most difficult and painful decisions of our lives. Words cannot express our pain and sorrow,” Eileen Brown wrote on the How Sweet it is Cakes Facebook page today.

“There are a number of circumstances that have led up to this decision including but not limited to a significant decline in sales since we’ve moved to our new location, increased cost of product and labor, my and my husband’s health as well as numerous factors that we won’t detail here.”

R.I.P. Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill

Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill announced on Facebook today it has closed after 32 years in business. The bar will become part of the new Lyric Kitchen and Bar, which is also replacing Porter’s restaurant as part of a series of renovation projects at Duluth’s Holiday Center.

A news release by Holiday Inn & Suites-Duluth and Lion Hotel Group notes the Lyric will open for business on Oct. 30 and will feature “a full bar and light-hearted dining experience that celebrates all things Duluth.” The menu will include burgers, pizzas and steaks. Breakfast will be served seven days a week.

Jansen preparing to close the Main Club in Superior

Fox 21 reports the Main Club, Superior’s first openly gay bar, is closing after 34 years in business. Owner Bob Jansen told reporter Joey Nelson his last day of business will be shortly after the Duluth-Superior Pride Festival, which concludes with a drag show at the Main on Sept. 3.

Jansen said the bar has struggled in recent years because younger people feel less of a need for gay-specific bars.

“The younger crowd can go anywhere,” he told Fox 21. “So their support for some of the gay communities — institutions — have fallen by the wayside.”

Gunnar Birkerts, Duluth Public Library architect, dead at 92

Gunnar Birkerts, a Latvian-born architect who extended the vocabulary of Modernism using unexpected angular forms, folding planes and ingenious, light-suffused interiors, died on Tuesday at his home in Needham, Mass. He was 92.

Einstürzende alt bauten!

Photo from the Facebooks by James Gittemeier.

Goodbye old building. Say hi for me to House of Donuts when you get to old-building heaven.

Dead Chipmunk Floats By

Spent all day setting up the underwater camera to get the mergansers diving in the area, but they were pretty uncooperative. Then this dead chipmunk floated by, so the day wasn’t a total waste haha. Anyway you can see what I’d wager is a talon wound on its side. Chipmunks live (and die I guess) all along the water’s edge, I frequently hear their signature chirping. Lots of vegetal flotsam in the water today too.