Green Line Businesses bounce back

For some businesses along the Green Line light rail, the nearly two years of transit construction proved to be too much to keep operations steady. The light rail’s construction from 2012 to 2014 pushed some Stadium Village and Prospect Park businesses — like 56-year-old Campus Pizza and Pasta — too far below their bottom line, and many of the area’s storefronts cut costs and changed some of their business practices. But now, those businesses that survived the road work are bouncing back from the years of low sales and slow foot traffic that came with the construction.In order to stay open, many area businesses reduced their staff sizes and inventory to keep revenue flowing. Though Stub and Herbs has a loyal fan base and a 76-year-old legacy, owner Josh Zavadil said the business struggled through the two-year construction period.  Zavadil said he restructured the property’s mortgage and cut back on some spending during the construction to cope with the restaurant’s dwindling business as a result of the area’s lack of foot traffic. The business relied heavily on customers from University of Minnesota hockey and football games, he said. Other businesses along the light rail resorted to hosting events with the hopes of drawing positive attention to a depressed area.  While Art and Architecture Inc., an antique store in Prospect Park, didn’t struggle as much as other area businesses, manager Jodi Hohman said, morale in the area was low during the road work. “Everybody was down in the area,” she said. “People were closing up shop.” The antique store held a number of events, including “junk markets” — which are comparable to yard sales — to spur extra business, Hohman said. The removal of parking spots came with the light rail’s construction, and businesses that relied heavily on those spaces are still feeling the loss. During the construction, Paradigm Copies owner Gary Magee said his business on Washington Avenue Southeast removed some of its printing machines and shrank in size to reduce its rent cost.  He said the store lost a lot of walk-in business and didn’t attract any customers. But now that the light rail is up and running, Magee said his storefront is more robust, and he expects its customer base to continue to grow. “I’m seeing a lot of positive signs,” he said. “We’re on our way to doing much better.” Few business owners in the area know their exact property values, but many said most of the land prices along the Green Line have gone up in recent years.  And owners who own their own buildings instead of rent, like Textile Center in Prospect Park, say they are glad that they do. Nancy Gross,  director of the center’s administration, said since the train started running last summer, the nonprofit has seen more people visit its gallery space, and its consignment store has had higher sales. On the Green Line light rail’s route, trains slowly turn onto University Avenue Southeast after the line’s Prospect Park stop — half of their windows facing the Textile Center. “There are lots of eyes on us,” Gross said. “We love it.” Continue Reading

Becoming a Lao Restauranteur: Eric Virakhone Panya

When I first moved to Fort Worth, Texas in July 2013, I was told that there was vibrant Lao community nearby. In fact, according to the U.S. Census, there are about 10,000 Laotian Americans in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex alone. Out of that 10,000, about 3,000 reside in the Fort Worth Area. I was excited; perhaps adjusting to life in Texas wouldn’t be too hard with a Lao community nearby and most of all, Lao comfort food readily available right around the corner.A quick Yelp! search led me to Sikhay Restaurant in Northeast Fort Worth. Continue Reading

TASTE OF WEST BROADWAY: Celebrating Northside business in style

The West Broadway Business and Area Coalition is setting out to prove that its business district has everything one needs to throw a spectacular party. For the upcoming Taste of West Broadway fundraiser on Thursday, February 26th, food will be prepared and served by eight local chefs from Avenue Eatery, K’s Deli, Cookie Cart, WholeSoul, Pimento Kitchen, Louisiana Purchase Seafood, Broadway Pub and Grille and Breaking Bread Cafe. Event patrons will have the pleasure of enjoying a wine tasting hosted by Cliff ‘n Norm’s, Merwin Liquors and Broadway Liquor Outlet. Boom Island Brewing will serve beer samples and its nearby taproom will host the event’s After Party.Hopewell Music Cooperative North’s string quartet will perform, and an artist from the Capri Theater’s Legends series. Silent Auction items include Cookies for a Year from Cookie Cart, visual art, a backyard BBQ for 8 from a local grill master, as well as concert tickets and other eclectic pieces.The WBC chose the Mpls Photo Center, located just off West Broadway on North 2nd St, in one of the most beautiful historic buildings in all of Minneapolis. Mpls Photo Center has stunning views of downtown and guests can peruse two photography exhibits, Rock and Roll and Vivian Maier.”We are excited to host this unique experience for the community, exhibiting many of the great food and cultural offerings on the avenue. Continue Reading

Local pharmacist buys Schneider Drug

Jim Stage said he was just getting his “feet wet” as the new owner of Lloyd’s Pharmacy on Snelling Avenue in the Hamline Midway neighborhood when Tom Sengupta contacted him and told him he was selling Schneider Drug, 3400 University Ave., in Prospect Park.Lloyd’s longtime owner, Ron Johnson, sold the business to Stage in November. On Jan. 27, Stage became the new owner of Schneider Drug. Both Johnson and Sengupta owned their businesses for more than 40 years.Stage had worked for several years at Lloyd’s with Johnson, who he credits with teaching him a lot about the pharmacy business. Stage grew up in the Midway area of St. Continue Reading

Heads up Twin Cities, Plaid is the new Black Friday

You can hear from the songs on the radio, the ads in the newspaper, and the commercials on TV that the holiday season has begun. This week Cyber Monday and Black Friday will have consumers opening up their wallets to grab the perfect present for their loved ones.According to USA Today, an estimated $12.3 billion in sales were brought in last Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend. But with store hours expanding and merchandise prices dropping, local small businesses have a hard time competing against large retailers.In order to keep up with the competition, local businesses have used this week’s hype to shop as a means of promotion. This weekend, local business owners in the Twin Cities will be celebrating Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday.Originally started in Oakland California in 2010, Plaid Friday encourages customers to wear plaid and shop at their local business rather than big box retailers. On Nov. Continue Reading

Educating future nurses as a ticket out of poverty

Sometimes, an airplane ride can change your life. Rachelle Simmons was college visiting in Baltimore with her son, and mentally noted something unique. “Usually in the inner city, on every corner you see a liquor store or a church – every corner. And there (Baltimore), on every corner there was a clinic! Or there was a hospital! Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | West Broadway business profile: Paradise Beauty Salon

Marie Egbujor has been operating Paradise Beauty Salon on West Broadway in North Minneapolis since 2009. The inviting salon is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 7pm. Ms. Egbujor is kept busy by her loyal clients; Paradise Beauty is famous for its Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday-only specials: $75 for a full weave sew-in, and dread retouching for just $40. Egjubor’s expertise is evident in her clients’ satisfied faces; “She’s very gifted at what she does; her hands are blessed” explained a client named Tiquita, who only entrusts her hair to Egjubor. However, what’s truly remarkable about Paradise Beauty Salon is the sense of calm, care and tranquility that one feels almost immediately upon stepping inside. “When you come in you feel the difference. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Absolute Tire and Wheel is a winner on West Broadway

Photo credit: Shaina BrassardAbsolute Tire and Wheel on West Broadway in Minneapolis was green before it was cool, and not just because green is owner Ron Ide’s favorite color.Today, as it did when it opened in 2006, Absolute Tire and Wheel, 220 West Broadway, Minneapolis, works to minimize used tires’ impact on the environment. “We spend a lot of money to recycle tires,” said Ide, who said the tires are then turned into useful goods such as playground mulch that protects children from fall-related injury. “We’ve always done that, because it’s important.”In addition to recycling used tires, Absolute Tire ( does the environment and customers’ wallets a huge service by offering previously-owned tires and wheels to the public. Used tires sales constitute a big part of its business.”We also sell a lot of wheels, and we take trade-ins, so if a guy comes in and wants a different set of wheels to make his car look better, but doesn’t want to spend $1,500 and is willing to trade in what he has, we can make that happen,” said Ide.The shop has a wide variety of products and services and, likewise, a wide variety of customers, from fathers looking for the safest, most dependable tire and wheel setup for their teenage daughters to professional athletes with a taste for flashy rims. Absolute Tire sells, installs, mounts, inspects, and rotates new or used tires and wheels, and also inspect brakes or installs batteries, starters and alternators.During the past eight years, Absolute Tire has seen impressive growth.”When I started here, we only had one of the three (service) bays,” said Ide. Gradually, the business took over the lease for the entire garage, hiring more employees along the way.In addition to providing impressive customer service, running a successful business and protecting the environment, Absolute Tire and Wheel is a good neighbor. Ide and his staff recognize themselves as part of a larger business district. Continue Reading