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Becoming a Destination

Twelve retailers of Northeast Minneapolis banded together to join the Greater Minneapolis Visitor and Convention Center.  Representing them here are Bob Jeffrey of Architectural Antiques, Laura Murphy of Silver Angel Thrift Store, Lucy Bacon of Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, Julie Gubbin of Antiquified and Layl McDill and Josh Blanc of Clay Squared to Infinity.  (Photo by Virginia Broich)

 

Old "Nordeast" Neighborhood Reinvents Itself 
by Virginia Broich 

Thanks to the grass- roots efforts of Antiquified owner Julie Gubbin, the arts and antiques shops of Northeast Minneapolis are among the first to rate an official neighborhood bus tour promoted by the city.

Twelve Northeast businesses decided to join the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association (GMCVA) and split the $600 Association fee: Antiquified, Architectural Antiques, Clay Squared to Infinity, Diamonds Coffee Shoppe the Holy Land Lebanese Deli, Lien's Book Shop, Melrose Antiques, Mobius Antiques, Neoneon, Silver Angel Thrift Store, Teener's Theatricals, and Two12 Pottery and Gifts all joined. Five stores are strictly antiques; four others have antiques connections.

In addition to antiques shops, the tour encompasses tiles, furniture, books, vintage theatrical costumes, clothing, jewelry, and decorative arts.

"I knew when I opened my own antiques business that I wanted to be involved with tourism," Gubbin said. "Owning a small, mom-and-pop type of shop doesn't have the draw of a destination site. However, a destination is what I wanted to be considered."

First, she contacted Explore Minnesota. They directed her to the GMCVA. Ironically, Gubbin's plan fit well into the GMCVA's marketing strategy.

"Promoting arts and antiques in the Northeast neighborhood is part of our overall neighborhood strategy," said Michael Rainville, director of community/sponsorship development. "There's a trend for visitors to want to see neighborhoods instead of a downtown area. Downtown Minneapolis is like downtown Indianapolis because many of the same stores are located in both cities. Neighborhoods make Minneapolis unique. Promoting this tour is part of our evolving marketing strategy.

"Gubbin provides leadership among the merchants," Rainville said. "There's a strong relationship between merchants and residents in Northeast."

Both Rainville and Gubbin see Northeast as an historical neighborhood. Gubbin feels antiques stores always give a friendly appearance that welcomes memories of what are considered the good old days.

"People in Northeast absolutely love talking and reliving the good old days in what they call `Nordeast.' It's the customers who tell me about what it used to be like and what was located where. People love to hear the history of the building I'm located in -- what we now call the Alamo -- and I love telling it!" Gubbin said.

The businesses on the tour are all quite different from each other, as are the owners. Two rely on national sales, while another focuses on larger antiques shows.

Just as the businesses are different, so are their reasons for joining the tour. Bob Jeffrey, manager of Architectural Antiques, said, "We have relocated several times in the last ten years. The tour is one way to advertise our new location."

Leland Lien of Lien's Bookshop said, "The more people you can draw to our end of town, the better it is. I think Julie has zeroed in on the draw. She's a good organizer."

The tour takes on another meaning for Laura Murphy, manager of the Silver Angel Thrift Store. "We're a non-profit without much of a budget for promotion. Things like this tour that help get our name out inexpensively are a real help."

Murphy welcomes antiquers. "Treasures are here for the finding, and it helps support a great cause: reaching people in need in our community. We have a weekly silent auction of vintage and special items. In our auction this week we have a working 1940s radio, a Limoges skating plate, and a piece of Fenton."

Robert Johnson of Neoneon designed the brochures for the tour; now the shops happily promote each other.

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