Dinkytown chains good for some, bad for others

Jake Kapsner
Staff Reporter

National chains are coming to a neighborhood near you. Again.
With stores opening and closing faster than a person can order take-out lunch, Dinkytown business owners are giving a thumbs-up to some established names moving into the predominately small business market. But some residents feel these big name businesses will further impinge on their tiny town.
A corporate-owned Perkins joined the Dinkydome’s chain gang of food vendors April 6. The local music chain Cheapo Disc is moving into the space at 1417 4th St. S.E., with Hollywood Video looking to premiere on the corner of 5th Street and 14th Avenue S.E. in August.
These stores are filling the gaps in Dinkytown’s vacant rental spaces. But gaps still exist: 13 spaces are up for lease in a three block radius.
However, adding Cheapo and Hollywood to the other businesses completely fills three of Dinkytown’s five city blocks, said Dan Zielski, president of the Dinkytown Business Association.
The Hollywood site was approved by the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association and the Dinkytown association last week. Irv Hershkovitz, who owns Dinkytown Liquor and other local property, will seek final approval from the City of Minneapolis planning department on April 22.
“I don’t predict that anything’s standing in the way,” he said.
Hershkovitz plans to level the former Burger King building, which he owns. He will construct 7,500- and 2,000-square-foot properties on the site and rent them to Hollywood Video and another tenant.
“I think it would give a nice anchor to Dinkytown,” Zielski said last week at an association meeting. “A national tenant that will be doing advertising city-wide; the sort of thing that would put Dinkytown on the map again.”
Local business leaders agree.
“It’s good to have recognized names here,” said Autographics owner Skott Johnson. Familiar names now removed — like National Camera, Kinko’s, Musicland and Burger King — drew people to the area in past years, he said.
Even current stores that stand to lose from new competition reiterate this thirst for a bigger customer draw.
“The way we see it, it’ll bring people with music interest into the area,” Disc-Go-Round manager Mike Ward said of Cheapo’s future presence.
John Richards, who manages Dinkytown Video, seemed undaunted by the idea of Hollywood moving in next door. “It’s like when restaurants move in together. It just gives people more selection.”
However, some local residents feel big names snuff the small-town charm that attracted them to this University neighborhood.
“It’s Dinkytown, not Macrotown,” said Ben Olsen, a parking attendant at Dinkytown Parking.
The city and Dinkytown association have also discussed building a 300-space parking ramp in the lot, which now has 122 spots.
But some feel a ramp would exacerbate corporate mentality.
“It’s sick. We’re losing all our stores; we don’t need a ramp. That would change the whole atmosphere of this area,” said Jenny Szymanski, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts who lives next door to the lot.
Lot owner Terry Hanson stressed that the ramp is just an idea at this point.
Hanson said he didn’t know if corporate businesses like Hollywood would effect his community’s small-town charm.
“It’s got to be better than an empty lot sitting there.”