The magic is gone

Macy’s announced today that it will close 11 stores, including one in Brooklyn Center at the Brookdale Mall, which is fast becoming an economic basket case.

The store, of course, is a former Dayton’s, a store that every company once wanted in their mall — the name was that magical. The magic is gone.

Is it too early to start thinking about what St. Paul will do when Macy’s closes its downtown St. Paul store?

Taxpayers guaranteed a $6.3 million loan for renovations to the store in 2001. The loan would be forgiven if the store stays open until December 2012. One gets the impression that Macy’s executives fall asleep at night to dreams that it’s almost January 2013.

  • Michael Fleming

    Downtowns (Mpls included!) are going to have to figure out how to survive without retail as the driving force. General merchandise stores are going to die out sooner or later. So, best start now to plan for the future, and presume ‘no stores’ as part of that equation rather than chase a dream-world of a return to the 50’s == That would be merely throwing good money after bad.

    (And, no, I’m not smart enough to know what the alternatives are. Maybe there isn’t really a viable one?)

  • Brookdale is less than a mile from my house. We go to it very often. Very sad that Brookdale did not have a Santa this year.

    But it is a ghost town. A lot of empty stores and a lot of ‘dollar’ stores. We go for the bookstore mostly.

  • Bob Collins

    You know, I walk around downtown St. Paul at lunch hour and think, “how is it with all these people here, a good retail store can’t survive?”

    I still can’t figure it out. I realize downtowns are never going to be a retail center yet, but a lot of downtowns still have a lot of retail.

    St. Paul doesn’t once you take out the candy shops and convenience stores.

  • Heather

    I don’t get why downtowns and retail shouldn’t mix. Is it regional? I used to work in DC, and would walk past storefronts every day on my way to and from work. It made for de-facto window shopping, and the occasional impulse purchase. I also had friends at work with whom I would go shopping over lunch hour — if one of us needed something, the rest of us would walk along (and sometimes buy stuff, too). We had easy access (within a 10-15 minute walk) to coffee shops, bakeries, clothing stores, gift/card shops, housewares stores, book shops, consignment stores, stationers, and even a hat shop. Some were chains, and some were locally owned, but all of them were just part of the routine of being downtown, and it was WAY easier to pick something up there than to schlep to the suburbs at night or on the weekend to fight for parking and trudge around a mall.

    Here, my workplace is cut off from any retail access at all. I miss it — both for the convenience and the sense of being in a place — but it definitely curbs my spending.

  • bsimon

    Is it a critical mass problem?

    Can you draw shoppers with one department store, or do you need some diversity to attract customers? Downtown Mpls has multiple shopping destinations available, connected by a convenient habitrail system. St Paul has one dept store (so far as I know), and minimal other retail. Is that enough to draw people downtown to shop; and if not, is there enough of a workforce population to support those shops? Sounds like the answers are ‘no’ and ‘no’.

  • @ Heather – Driving – DC is mass transit town, from my experience. In DC you can “walk past storefronts” here we Drive by storefronts. At lunch you might think about picking up some small item, but you will stop at the ‘local’ mall after work or on the weekend to really shop.

  • forever daytons

    There is something very special about downtown St Paul Daytons Department Store. (I know they call it Macy’s now). But in the store there is a certain feel to it, sort of a 1940’s home-like feel. That’s the best I can do to describe it. It has always been like that for me. It would be sad to see the store close.

  • chzlr

    Perhaps Brookdale should be converted into some kind a educational (correctional) facility. Noticing the trends in that area, that’s what’s needed.

    Or just extend the bus depot across the street to incorporate the mall. It’s serving as an over-sized bus stop anyways. A warming house for loiterers.