ON DISPLAY: Consultant helps Downtown Duluth businesses revitalize storefronts

Minnesota Surplus on Superior Street.
Minnesota Surplus on Superior Street.(Reporter: Mitchell Zimmermann)
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 3:22 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - A nearly 75-year-old business in Downtown Duluth got a facelift to try and attract business and make the area safer in the process.

It’s part of a greater effort to revitalize the downtown area and draw more people.

Minnesota Surplus located on Superior Street has been a mainstay on the road since 1948. The store originally opened to sell surplus goods that were left over from World War II.

Rick Dallum has owned the business for about two decades. Kristi Stokes, President of the Downtown Duluth organization, approached him about sprucing up his front displays.

“They actually said to us, you know your window isn’t bad, but we can make it great,” Dallum said.

The window displays of the store were redesigned by Michelle Reeves and her consulting team. Reeves was previously tasked with consulting for the Lincoln Park District of the city.

Dallum said he hoped the redesign pays off for his business.

“People are moving back around getting back downtown,” he continued, “so if you can have something that highlights that just a little bit to pique their interest to get them in the door, I think we’ll find that this new display will do that.”

Kristi Stokes, the President of Downtown Duluth, held an activation workshop earlier in the week where businesses could collaborate with one another.

“How can you improve lighting, how can you grab people’s attention and just also make it feel like an active downtown?” she said.

Stokes said by redoing front displays, it means more foot traffic for downtown.

“If you have an active community, whether that’s 18 hours a day, that just makes for a more safe type of community,” she said.

Although displays may seem simple, Stokes made the case that they are crucial to creating a vibrant community.

“It’s important for everyone to play a role because this is our downtown,” she said, “this is our gathering place, this is the center of our community.”

Dallum said since the displays have been redone, his regulars have noticed. They’ve given positive feedback on the new look.

“It’s always good to get a fresh perspective on your business,” he said.