Peppermint Park refreshes: Dinkytown store undergoes major changes to stay afloat

Peppermint Park reopened its doors on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, with markdowns on clothes. The store originally opened in September. (Photos by Amanda Snyder)

In a neighborhood that has been unfriendly to retail, Peppermint Park is getting a fresh start.

The Dinkytown discount luxury store held a “Grand (Re)Opening” event earlier this month, making sweeping changes to its business model.

The formerly online, membership-based retailer opened its first physical store near the University of Minnesota five months ago. Peppermint Park has since scrapped its membership program and reduced its web presence.

The business originally charged members $10 per month for additional discounts on merchandise.

The memberships worked online, but confused customers shopping in the flagship store, said Danielle Klein, vice president of Peppermint Park.

“So we decided just to get rid of it,” Klein said. “It’s much simpler this way.”

University journalism and political science junior Meghan Ruff said she “hesitantly” signed up for a membership after shopping at the store as a non-member in the fall.

Although Ruff said she initially saved money, she didn’t find the membership to be a good deal.

“You have to pay up front, and what college student has money up front all the time?” she said. “If you have to be consistently paying to get those good deals, it’s not always worth it.”

Peppermint Park has also disbanded the Candy Girls, a University student group created to promote the store, but it will maintain a connection to the University, Klein said. Student groups and sororities can set up private parties at the store.

Three retail stores have closed in Dinkytown in the last three years, but Klein said proximity to the University gives Peppermint Park staying power.

Small retailers can close for a number of reasons, said Dave Hopkins, director of the University business school’s Carlson Brand Enterprise.

“In a very fashion-driven business, there’s a lot of things that can happen,” he said.

Peppermint Park has also shuttered its online store and consolidated all of its stock to the Dinkytown location, according to Anna Giles, merchandising and inventory manager at Peppermint Park.

Three Dinkytown sales associates were cut in the warehouse move, Klein said. According to Giles, more jobs will open later this spring.

Peppermint Park now uses a smaller eBay store to sell merchandise online, Klein said.

Peppermint Park employee Emily Kaehler and Vice President of Operations Danielle Klein check barcodes on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Dinkytown.

Last fall, Peppermint Park CEO and founder Jessie Conners told the Minnesota Daily that she hoped to expand Peppermint Park to other college campuses.

Giles said the company is looking at two or three possible locations, while Klein was optimistic about expansion.

“You can definitely be looking around for us at other college campuses,” she said.

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