OVER TIME SIGNIFICANT names in retailing have become history. Growing up in White Bear Lake, we often made trips to Montgomery Wards in the Midway, which was also known as a very strong catalog store, as was Sears in Minneapolis.

Ben Franklin stores were popular and we had one in downtown White Bear Lake owned by the Brass family. Schuneman’s in St. Paul was pressured out of business by the expanding Dayton Hudson people. St. Paul also had the Emporium, Golden Rule, Grants and Kresge’s. They are history.  Dayton’s is gone and so are Rothschild’s, Donaldson’s and Field-Schlick.

Shopko is one of the latest to announce its closings. A former manager of Shopko, Wisconsin based, suggested that if they had eliminated some of the western stores that were not performing, they would be alive and well today.

Markets have changed and so has retailing with a return to mail order or shopping online. What goes around comes around.

The grocery business is another challenging area. It will just take time to see how this all sorts out in our market with new stores making their introductions, like Lunds & Byerlys and now with Hy-Vee ready to break ground in what is known as Hoffman Corners at County Road E and Highway 61.

Large drug stores have taken their toll on the independently owned drug stores in the area. They have also found ways to affect drug pricing, which makes this market extremely competitive.

The impact on the malls is evident with the empty spaces showing up in places like Maplewood Mall.

The challenge is for small business to find a unique niche, provide exemplary service and have a good marketing plan that communicates clearly what they offer and why they deserve your business.

In the meantime, we will see growth in fast food, grocery and restaurant food delivery services and other kinds of services that will keep electronic gadgets functioning in your home.

Gasoline fueling stations continue to grow and today those stations are like general stores of the past. 

Some of the large box stores are also trying out smaller neighborhood stores for convenience. 

In the meantime, we can continue to talk to lamps and tell them we want our lights on or off and to let us know if we have left the garage door open. If you don’t have various colored lights in your pantry with a glass door, you need an upgrade.

WITH SUMMER OFFICIALLY around the corner and the love of water in Minnesota, it’s a good time to review safety practices with family and friends.

Life jackets are important for children, as well as adults and animals. Even conservation officers have been recently reminded.

Some people effectively use checklists when they are heading out for fishing or vacationing. Whether it’s locally or a distance away, lists can be helpful. Rules and regulations on the water are important to review as well.

From the St. Croix River boating experiences as well as lakes and salt water boating, we have seen so many boaters who do not respect or follow the rules of the water.

“Respect” is a key word. On the water or the road, be respectful of others, as well as what’s private. Consider carefully where you anchor and the noise level that is projected from your watercraft. Water sports are great and enjoyable, but respect fishermen, beaches and know where there are sandbars and other points of danger. With all this in mind, enjoy Minnesota’s summer on the water.

FROM HEARTH, PATIO and Barbecue Association, Americans grill the most on the Fourth of July at a 73% rate. Memorial Day gets 60%, Father’s Day 45%, Mother’s Day 34% and Thanksgiving 14%.

So it’s time to get the grill ready and try some new recipes.


Gene Johnson is publisher emeritus of Press Publications

(1) comment

Jacob Jacobson

Thanks Gene. I remember the good old days on Floral Drive when the City/County Spray Trucks would come down our street, sporting rather large spray equipment off the back. The truck would slowly meander down our pastoral boulevard, unleashing a large, deadly cloud of DDT in an effort at mosquito control. Our parents warned us, but we were thrilled to run behind the spray truck, screaming with childish joy as we inhaled the deadly vapors. It was such fun.

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