Closing time approaches for several Dinkytown businesses

While some of the tenants look for a new location, Dinkytown Optical set up shop Monday.

The contents of Ed Nelson’s suitcase, the only item Nelson took with when he left the Hair Shaft on June 24. Nelson has been a barber in Dinkytown for 49 years. “The only bad thing is we’re packing up and leaving. Tonight’s my last night. When I take my suitcase there, that’s the end of it,” Nelson said. “If I could, I’d work until my ambulance takes me out.”

Tiffany Bui

The contents of Ed Nelson’s suitcase, the only item Nelson took with when he left the Hair Shaft on June 24. Nelson has been a barber in Dinkytown for 49 years. “The only bad thing is we’re packing up and leaving. Tonight’s my last night. When I take my suitcase there, that’s the end of it,” Nelson said. “If I could, I’d work until my ambulance takes me out.”

Tiffany Bui

As of Wednesday, the historic building adjacent to Varsity Theater will stand empty.

In February, Milo’s on Fourth, Dinkytown Optical, Underground Printing, Blue Serge Alterations and Hair Shaft barbershop received notices to vacate the building, which stands on the corner of 4th Street Southeast and 13th Avenue Southeast, by August 1. Some tenants said they expect the building’s landlord to sell or tear down the building, but are unsure when. 

Some tenants of the building will head to a different Dinkytown location while others are still figuring out future plans. Many of the businesses have a long history of serving students. 

“These are probably some of the oldest business owners in Dinkytown… so it will be different,” said Detronza Kirksey, owner of Milo’s on Fourth barbershop.

Dinkytown Optical is the only one of the businesses that has secured another location so far. On Monday, the shop reopened in the spot on 4th Street Southeast previously occupied by Verizon Wireless. The business has been in the area for around 45 years, said co-owner Nicole Davis.

“We just need to adjust and get comfortable here and hope our patients stay with us even though we’re in a new spot and it looks completely different,” Davis said. 

Meanwhile, other businesses are still on the lookout for a new locations.

Kirksey said he is looking to rent across the street above Chatime teahouse. He envisions enlisting other entrepreneurs to help expand his barbershop to include other services. 

With eight years of experience running the barber shop under his belt, “it’ll be a [totally] different ballgame this time,” Kirksey said.

Underground Printing is still scoping out real estate, but Sales Manager Helene Karp said she hopes the business can return to Dinkytown soon.

“I think eventually we will be able to find [a place], I just don’t know how long it will take. Once you get into Dinkytown, people don’t like to leave,” Karp said. “It’s somewhere where you set your roots and stay there for as long as you can.” 

Some longtime tenants have no plans to relocate in the area. Blue Serge Alterations vacated the building Saturday after 32 years in business and won’t seek a new Dinkytown space, according to the store’s management.

Dennis Anderson, who has worked as a barber at Hair Shaft for 15 years and now manages the barbershop, said the building’s close signals the end of his long career as a barber. 

Anderson said the eviction notice felt like a death sentence, claiming that rent in Dinkytown is too expensive for another small barber shop to operate in.

“I said my life was over. How am I going to pay bills?” he said. 

Brett Naylor, the building’s landlord, could not be reached for comment. According to many tenants, Naylor’s notice said the building would no longer house businesses after current tenants vacate. 

The property lies within the historic district designated by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Committee. Any changes, including construction or demolition, would require an application submitted to the City of Minneapolis.