Miller Hill Mall business owner reflects on impacts of roof collapse

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 5:33 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- On Monday the Duluth Miller Hill Mall management announced the mall would begin to phase open again after last week’s roof collapse.

RELATED: 6 days after roof collapse, Miller Hill Mall announces phased reopening schedule

While some stores in the mall are able to reopen now, others will have to wait.

The mall is occupied by some national retail chain stores, but there are also several locally owned businesses that call the mall home.

One of those is Art in the Alley.

For owner Tami LaPole Edmunds, closure as a result of last week’s roof collapse is worrisome.

“For a small business owner, the financial and the fear for your business, it brought back the fear of living through a pandemic,” LaPole Edmunds said. “You know, so many unanswered questions, how long will your store be closed? How do you survive something like this?”

Art in the Alley, which has been in the mall for nine years, is not directly in the area where the roof collapsed but is located close by.

LaPole Edmunds said they are expecting communication from mall leaders between Tuesday and Thursday on when she can reopen the store.

While her store isn’t able to open yet, she said she’s happy others can.

“I am happy at how quickly things have gotten under control and the phases of reopening, that’s all good, things have started opening up at the mall,” LaPole Edmunds said.

She has been out of state since the collapse and she says she’s grateful to her customers and staff for their support.

“The staff that we have, we’ve had for many years,” LaPole Edmunds said. “I couldn’t ask for a better, more loyal, hardworking, caring staff.”

While the temporary closure is a minor setback, LaPole Edmunds said she can’t wait until Art in the Alley can reopen.

“We love the mall, we will stay in the mall, we’re not going anywhere, the mall is our home,” she said.

LaPole Edmunds said when Art in the Alley does get the okay to re-open, they will have to take at least one day to assess the store.

While they don’t believe anything was damaged, no one has been able to enter the store up to this point to check for sure.