by Kane Loukas

Mark Lindblom isn’t being forced out of Dinkytown, he’s choosing to leave.
Today, Lindblom is clearing out his jewelry shop at its location on 14th Street Southeast, one of Dinkytown’s main cross streets. After 13 years in the cozy storefront, and 24 years in Dinkytown, Lindblom’s Jewelry is moving his store to a greener, more opportune pasture: Wayzata.
“Wayzata is very much on an upswing, while Dinkytown is sort of on cruise control,” Lindblom said.
Not surprisingly, Lindblom doesn’t want his business to just cruise along.
But even with the so-so condition of Dinkytown, Lindblom is trying to be optimistic, saying the area has been good to him and sales in his store have stayed strong despite the drop in the number of businesses attracting shoppers.
“I firmly believe that because it’s unique and nearby the campus, (Dinkytown) is going to do well,” said Lindblom. “But right now it’s changing.”
Regardless of his optimism, Lindblom’s Jewelry, a healthy business, is leaving. It’s one thing to lose businesses that aren’t doing well. It’s another, and perhaps more serious situation, when healthy businesses jump ship.
In hopes of making sense of the movement of business away from Dinkytown, shop owners — especially long-time residents — say that the neighborhood is simply going through a phase.
A number of business owners feel that consumers are demanding more specialty and service businesses, such as restaurants, coffee shops and tailors. Meanwhile, those same shoppers have strayed away from retail shops in Dinkytown like National Camera Exchange and Nelson’s Office Furniture, both of which closed several years ago.
Business trends, however, don’t explain everything.
Rent is a more ominous and far-more-real issue than the movement from one type of business to another.
Many business owners say that some commercial property owners in Dinkytown have lost touch with the needs of the renters. As a result, commercial rents in Dinkytown don’t reflect the less-than-ideal business climate in the area.
“We need a reality check,” said Berry Bosold, a real estate consultant and the vice president of the Dinkytown Business Association.
“I believe that temporarily, the rents need to be lowered to encourage growth,” he said. “It’s better to have occupancy than to hold out for a big-buck rent increase that you’re never going to get.”
As might be expected, property owners are less enthusiastic about the idea.
Jerry Manes, the owner of the building at 1231 14th St., said that unfortunately, the cost of maintaining buildings constantly rises. He also said people can’t expect all landlords to be attentive.
The Dinkytown Business Association and its members are holding several meetings in the coming weeks to inform members of the business community about the dynamics of Dinkytown’s rut.