Two women plan to open a new bar later this fall in a West Duluth neighborhood that boasts some of the oldest drinking establishments in the city.
Katie Fast and Julie LaTourelle, operating as K & J Industries LLC, recently purchased the former RJ’s Coffee Den at 330 N. 57th Ave. W. The century-old building is being remodeled and is expected to reopen as the Boreal House in late November.
According to this postcard, Duluth Motel sat in some mysterious forest, perhaps offering the only toilet available for miles and miles. In reality, “Northwest’s Most Luxurious Motel” was near Denfeld High School and surrounded by West Duluth homes and businesses. A lush, undeveloped hillside was indeed in the distance, though not very similar looking to the illustration on the postcard.
The Spirit Valley business district in West Duluth took a serious hit in 2018 when Kmart closed but business leaders and city officials believe the area is ripe for a makeover that could match successful redevelopment work in Lincoln Park.
An alternative weekly newspaper publisher currently renovating a West Duluth movie theater has purchased a second historic but mostly forgotten theater adjacent to his current project.
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.
An iconic and ruggedly unique surplus store in the heart of West Duluth has been put up for sale as its longtime owner prepares to fight a serious health issue.