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.
There’s good news for people who like to geek out with lengthy environmental assessment worksheets and pages upon pages of support documents. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments through April 18 on the EAW for the Kingsbury Bay and Grassy Point Habitat Restoration Project in West Duluth.
The graphic above is an interesting nugget from the documents. It shows aerial views of the Kingsbury Bay area, where Kingsbury Creek enters the St. Louis River estuary near Indian Point Campground. The 1948 version shows a wide open beach; the modern view shows a marshy swamp filled with invasive narrow-leaved cattails.
This old photo seems to show striking workers at the Diamond Tool and Horseshoe Company in West Duluth. Or are the workers protesting the closing of the plant? What year was the photo taken? Who is the guy in the foreground crossing the street? There are plenty of questions to be answered in this Perfect Duluth Day Mystery Photo.