Closure leaves fewer apparel stores

Only specialty clothing shops remain in Dinkytown after another store closes.

Nancy Brantingham shops Tuesday at Pacific and Maine in Dinkytown.

Simon Guerra

Nancy Brantingham shops Tuesday at Pacific and Maine in Dinkytown.

Callie Sacarelos

 

Another business will be added to the list of retail clothing stores that couldn’t survive near the University of Minnesota campus.

Pacific and Maine, a custom apparel and fashion clothing store opened in August of last year; now a “For Lease” sign hangs in the window.

 The shop is the third clothing store to leave the area in the last three years. Now, only three stores remain.

Mindstate Distribution, Gold Country Inc. and Underground Printing are the three remaining clothing stores in Dinkytown.

Skott Johnson, president of Dinkytown Business Association, previously told the Minnesota Daily that Dinkytown used to be a popular shopping area.

“Now we’re more of a destination and entertainment area than we are shopping,” Johnson said in a recent interview.

Area shops in the past left after business declined.

Stacy Larson opened Covered in Dinkytown in 2006, and at first business was booming.

But the boutique clothing store closed three years later in 2009 after sales slowed.

At first, “Business was amazing; more than we expected when we opened,” Larson said.

Covered was not cheap though — a pair of jeans could go for $200. As the economy grew worse, Larson said business dramatically declined.

Larson said now she wouldn’t advise anyone to open a clothing store in Dinkytown. She speculated that many University students shopped places where clothes were cheaper, like the mall, instead of Dinkytown

“When I was in college, I did the same thing,” she said.

Luckily for Larson, her Uptown location was still doing well, so she decided to pull the plug in Dinkytown.

A year later Everyday People, a recycled clothing store near campus, closed. It still has locations in Uptown and St. Paul.

The three stores that are left each tailor their selections to a specific audience.

Mindstate Distribution focuses on street wear brands, Gold Country offers Gopher apparel, and Underground Printing is a custom printing shop with a small selection.

Matt Hoffman, manager of Mindstate Distribution, said the store has stayed in business because of its specialized products that are catered to their audience.

 “We definitely deal with a niche client base,” said Hoffman, who pointed to the store’s widespread customer base that expands beyond the University area.

The store gets some students, but they are not the majority, Hoffman said.

However, because they are one of the only options near campus, students come in for quick shopping like a jacket or scarf on a cold day, Hoffman said.

Gold Country has been open for 15 years and sells mostly Gophers apparel. Mike Kendall, the manager, said they have never had a desire to carry fashion retail.

Underground Printing also sells college apparel but distinguishes itself by being a custom apparel shop in Dinkytown, said Matt Price, manager of the shop.

Underground Printing has locations at college campuses in 10 states, including eight locations at Big Ten schools.

Price said that success in their business comes from their custom products that are tailored toward trends on campus.

Underground Printing does not have exclusive rights with any groups. Instead they reach out through marketing strategies to keep different student and business groups coming back each year.

The current location offers a small retail selection, and owners have discussed the idea of expanding with a larger location, he said.

Stores at other Big Ten campuses have done well with retail, and the Dinkytown store hopes to have the same success, he said.

Price guessed that retail in the future for the store would not be geared toward fashion items but more toward University apparel.

Johnson said high property taxes coupled with the rising cost of rent due to new apartment complexes makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to survive in Dinkytown. But he added that the apartments will also bring more students.