Only the strong will survive

A few small businesses in my area have closed for good. I think one or two of them may have been struggling a bit before the pandemic.

A year from now there will be fewer small businesses and some new small businesses.

Candyland has been around since 1932. I think they will survive. They opened shortly after the lockdown and offer curbside pick up.

They have adapted and will continue to do so, which is a good thing because I am a Chicago Mix popcorn addict and I’ll need my next fix soon.

Candyland
Candyland on Wabasha street downtown St. Paul

Landmark Plaza Sculpture

I found this on Sunday on my way to the Saint Paul farmer’s Market. It is located at Landmark Plaza near St. Peter Street in downtown St. Paul.

It probably doesn’t get many visitors. Downtown is pretty quiet these days. I thought I would share some pictures of it. It makes a kind of wooshing noise as the wind blows. There was no name on it but there is a card that says “the milligan studio” at the foot of the sculpture.

Restoring history on Wabasha street

467 Wabasha St
467 Wabasha St

This 1890’s building was covered with paint. I have been watching as workers sandblast the building and restore it to its former glory. CCI Properties now owns the building and it is currently vacant while it is being restored and upgraded.

The building has housed a few restaurants over the years and until recently low-income rental units. When it is finished 20% of the rental units will income-restricted for at least 10 years. The picture was taken at the intersection of 7th street and Wabasha.

at 467 Wabasha St
467 Wabasha St

They definitely do not build them like this anymore. The building is of the Queen Anne style and there was once a turret on top of the rounded section with the flag on it.

The demise of the office?

CoCo St. Paul
CoCo St. Paul

I have been using a home office for most of my work since about 2006 or so. It wasn’t much of an adjustment when we were all told to stay home. Selling real estate and running a real estate company are businesses that are suited for home offices. Yet many real estate companies are struggling with what they call “new norma”. Their business models rely on agents wanting to come to the office.

A couple of days ago I talked to a neighbor who has been working out of a home office for years. She was recently laid off and has already gotten hired by another company. She is working from home and she doesn’t want to work in an office.

Working in an office never worked well for me. I struggled with some of the things that came along with the office culture and have never had a desire to go back. I have talked to several people who do not want to work out of shared office space.

At the end of the month, the co-working space I have been using for meetings, as a business mailing address and for those times when people wanted to see my office is closing for good. I didn’t use it much but I will miss it, and have been a member since 2009. The Fueled Collective, formerly CoCo will be closing the downtown St. Paul location for good at the end of June. All other locations will remain open.

During the pandemic, the office has been closed most of the time. When it re-opened because of essential businesses like mine the people who used the space did not come back. This isn’t a good time for small businesses including mine.

I haven’t made a decision yet about my business address or if I even need one. I never really needed a business address it was more about the expectation that a legitimate business needs an office. I have often met with clients in coffee shops or in their homes. More recently we meet by phone or via ZOOM or even outside now that it is warm enough to go outside.

There is more housing downtown than ever before and more restaurants and there is a ballpark and the union depot too. There are also miles of vacant office space and empty streets during business hours.  Our downtown has made many comebacks. I am hoping for another.

 

Empty sidewlaks and streets downtown St. Paul
Downtown St. Paul

 

Downtown during evening rush hour

For as long as I can remember people have been concerned about the future and viability of downtown St. Paul.  In the last decade, we have seen a lot of investment in the area. The amount of housing has tripled in the last 15 years.

At the same time, there is a lot of vacant commercial space along the skyway and on the street. There is almost no retail and a glut of office and retail space. Our little downtown has been struggling for decades

My dad once owned a business on St. Peter street and even back then there were a lot of questions about the future of downtown.

Last Monday I walked downtown at 5:00 PM.  There has been little traffic because of the governors stay at home order. Even the library is closed and the parks are empty too.

Will downtown recover from COVID-19? Will the new restaurants near the ballpark survive? Is the housing downtown enough to keep the neighborhood vibrant?

Rush hour on Monday, May 11, 2020, 5:00 PM ish

St. Peter street
Saint Peter street looking South
6th and Washington downtown St. Paul
6th and Washington at Travelers Insurance
6th street downtown
6th street downtown

 

Throwback Thursday to July 4th

Downtown St. Paul

I took the picture of St. Peter Street near 7th street plaza on July 4th to show how downtown closes on the 4th. There really isn’t anything to do in St. Paul on the 4th of July. People either go to cabins or camping or go next door to Minneapolis to enjoy a day of live music, food, and fireworks in the evening.

Yesterday I had feeling of Deja Vue as I crossed St. Peter street on my way to the Walgreens on Wabasha. The street looks the same today due to COVID-19 as it usually does on July 4th. . . . except there aren’t leaves on the trees.