MINNEAPOLIS - For some, it's a luxury loss in the city's shopping core. By next year, Neiman Marcus will close its sole Minnesota store in Gaviidae Common, leaving downtown shoppers with fewer upscale options.
"Sorry to hear about it but not really, I don't shop there, out of my price range, I kind of miss the Penneys downtown, truth be told," said downtown Worker Tyren McGruder.
"The store has always struggled," said retail market analyst Jim McComb, president of the real estate consulting firm, McComb Group. "Everything changed. Saks is gone, Carson's is gone."
He says the closure does reflects the desires of Minnesota customer, who is traditionally more casual than contemporary.
He says Neiman Marcus is a mismatch with the lifestyle Minnesotans prefer.
"Having worked on City Center, Gaviidae many other projects, it is sad to see what has happened. See the stores close but it's how you respond to that," said McComb, pointing out that downtown Minneapolis can still be an evolving retail destination, with 160,000 workers bringing a base for business.
Downtown Council president Mark Stenglein calls the Neiman closure unfortunate but not devastating. He says the Neiman space will easily be repurposed, perhaps even with office space.
"In fact, there is a lot of activity in that end of the mall - Excel is going to do an expansion down there, Opus is building luxury apartments, quite honestly Neiman could have been a little quick to move out, but that is their plan," said Stenglein.
Shoppers at St. Louis Parks's West End say what keeps them out of downtown is more than the price point.
"I am a mall person, I like Rosedale and Ridgedale where you can pull up park and get out," said Michele McManigle of Plymouth.
Stenglein steadfastly believes the Neiman closure is part of a downtown renaissance, bringing a new focus away from the department store towards the beginnings of boutique retail. He says part of the Downtown Council's 2025 plan is to double the population of downtown residents, which currently stands around 35,000, and currently the business community is focused on bringing amenities that draw and sustain that population.
"I like to say Nicollet Mall is the main street of Minnesota," said Stenglein.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak agrees that downtown retail does need to evolve towards specialty and niche stores. He called the Neiman closure sad but expected, and says the city worked to keep it open for several years.
Neiman Marcus said the 107 employees in the Minneapolis stores will be offered severance packages or the ability to transfer.
It could close within a year, as early as next January, as late as July 2013.
The store opened in 1991.
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