Miller Hill Mall turns 40

Crowds fill Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall during its official grand opening on July 25, 1973. (News Tribune file photo)

As featured on the front page of the Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 News Tribune, Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall is turning 40 years old this year. The mall opened in stages, with the “official” grand opening in July 1973.

The mall has been featured in a number of past Attic posts, including several with photos from its opening year. Here are links to those posts:

Montgomery Ward store at the Miller Hill Mall, 1973

J.C. Penney store at the Miller Hill Mall, 1973 (Part 1)

J.C. Penney store at the Miller Hill Mall, 1973 (Part 2)

The buffeteria was one of the most popular places in the Montgomery Ward store at the Miller Hill Mall when this photo was taken in July 1973, four months after the store opened. (News Tribune file photo)

Here’s one more mall-related post:

Aerial view from 1979

And here are images of a couple articles from the mall’s grand opening (one article “jumps” to a second image); click on the images for a larger version:

Share your memories of the mall by posting a comment…

Glader’s Grocery, 2001

December 5, 2001

The loss of neighborhood grocery stores had been well-documented in Duluth in recent years. In the past several years alone, we’ve lost Bay Side Market on Park Point and Romano’s Grocery downtown, and temporarily lost Fourth Street Market, though that store has now reopened.

Here’s a 2001 profile of another store that hung on for years in West Duluth – Glader’s Grocery:

Wendy Glader stocks the shelves one afternoon in the the tiny West Duluth grocery store that has been owned by her family since she was 11. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

DEVOTED GROCER

GLADER’S ENDURES AS ONE OF THE CITY’S LAST SMALL GROCERIES

By Baird Helgeson, Duluth News Tribune

Wendy Glader can’t imagine life without her tiny West Duluth grocery store.

Glader’s Grocery has been in her family for 30 years, since she was 11 years old.

The tiny three-aisled grocery store, at 5912 Raleigh St., sits between Grand Avenue and the St. Louis Bay, barely visible to passing traffic.

“I grew up here,” she said. “I can’t remember a holiday or a birthday that wasn’t spent here.”

Glader’s is a well-scrubbed but aging nook in a largely residential neighborhood.

The aisles are filled with bread, soup and Hamburger Helper. Coolers are stocked with frozen pizzas, TV dinners and Popsicles. The shelves behind the counter have a few batteries, aspirin and ponytail scrunchies.

She keeps a list of customers who have bounced checks in plain view as an embarrassing deterrent to those thin on cash but full of checks. “You start getting a lot of bad checks around Christmas time,” she said.

A picture of Jesus Christ hangs on the wall, not because of any particularly strong devotion, but because that’s where it has hung for 80 years, since the building was a butcher shop.

“We haven’t touched the picture since we owned it; but I probably should dust it,” she said with a laugh.

Wendy Glader takes a peek out of the store to see where a firetruck turned after it rumbled down the street. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

During quiet times, Glader straightens inventory and listens to the police scanner behind the counter. She turns it on when she hears sirens.

Her 17-year-old terrier-Pomeranian mix, Kenya, ambles around the store, sniffing and tail-wagging the day away.

“There used to be lots and lots of these little grocery stores,” said Deede Westermann, executive director of the Spirit Valley Citizens Neighborhood Development Association. “But slowly they have nearly all gone away.”

The reasons are varied, she said. Some owners get old, retire and shut the stores down. In other cases, shoppers opt for the amenity-filled mall areas and larger grocers.

Neighborhood grocery stores used to be more than just corner stores. They were community gathering places, said Joe Perfetti, head of the Harrison Community Club. It’s where families gathered after Sunday church for coffee and rolls. It’s where old-time wheeling and dealing was perfected and laughter filled the aisles, he said. “But that’s all changed, now.”

Perhaps for good.

“People have to recognize the value of the small stores before they are all gone,” Westermann said. “In the case of neighborhood grocery stores, I don’t think that will happen.”

Neighborhood store owner Wendy Glader is reflected in the small corner mirror as she carries a box of paper products to the end of a narrow aisle for stocking. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Glader’s is the kind of place where Wendy is on a first-name basis with customers.

“Hi, Inga,” she said as the shy, willowy teen-ager came in. “What are you looking for?”

“Chocolate milk,” she said.

“Sorry, we’re out,” Glader said. “But we have that hot chocolate you like.”

The neighborhood grocery store probably wouldn’t be here today except for Glader’s quiet devotion. Mega-grocers moved into Duluth over the years and small, private neighborhood grocers have vanished by the dozens. Park Point’s Bay Side Market on Minnesota Avenue, the Fourth Street Market in Central Hillside and Romano’s Grocery downtown are among the last small groceries in Duluth.

But none is quite like Glader’s.

She is the only full-time employee and works seven days a week, with some fill-in help from her boyfriend. She hasn’t had a day off since July 4 this year, when she took her three children to Brainerd to see the Paul Bunyan statue. She can’t remember the last day off before that.

“Sometimes I don’t think I make any money,” she said. “But I pay all my bills and my kids are well dressed, so I really can’t complain.”

The store makes $400 on good days; top sellers are cigarettes and soft drinks. But Glader has given up on fresh meats and an extensive variety of vegetables and fruits. It’s tough to compete with the large grocery chains’ low prices, she said.

“I can’t blame customers for going there,” said Glader, who shops at the nearby SuperValu for fresh meats and other needs.

“Basically, they come here when they need an item or two. And I’m OK with that.”

An 80-year-old picture of Jesus hangs over some of the hair products Glader carries at her grocery store. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Glader’s offers one feature people won’t find at big-name grocers — a line of credit. She has about 30 customers who charge items onto an account and pay them off every month or two weeks.

A sign, next to the picture of Christ, says: “Your payday is my payday.”

Glader’s parents, Cliff and Jessie, bought the store 30 years ago for about $8,000 after diabetes forced Cliff out of his job as a Proctor bus driver. Jessie, a housekeeper at a nursing home, knew he couldn’t do it alone. She quit her job and they embarked on their retail adventure.

Glader bought out her brother and sister nearly seven years ago for $45,000 after her mother died and left it to the children. The other children didn’t want to run the store. But Glader couldn’t let the store, or the memories, go.

“That’s really why I still do it,” she said. “I don’t want to let it go. But with this economy, I can’t really see doing it forever.”

Glader has considered starting a child care in her Proctor home. The hours are better and she’d get to spend more time with her kids. But the ties to the store are strong.

Glader keeps going, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

“A lot of people think I live here,” Glader said. “But I have a house and a family. I’m not as into it as my dad and mom were. But I’m still here, still filling the shelves, still opening every day.”

Wendy Glader rips into a box from an early afternoon delivery so she can start stocking shelves. Her shelves may not always be full, like the larger store chains, but she tries to keep a good variety of daily necessities stocked. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Wendy Glader gives directions to a delivery driver trying to find his way back to the Interstate 35 after he completed his delivery to the tiny West Duluth grocery store. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

I can’t find any more references to the store in our archives, and – correct me if I’m wrong – the store is no longer there. So, can anyone provide more information about when it closed? If so, please post a comment.

Target through the years

If you’ve made a shopping trip to the Duluth Target recently, no doubt you’ve gotten a sneak peak at their renovation plans. The Minnesota-based big-box retailer now is adding a larger food section. Though Target, which made Duluth its fourth store in 1962, never has been a quaint mom-and-pop shop, the big red circled dot hasn’t always been so diverse. Look back at these photos and see how Target has changed right along with the times.

The day after Christmas must be the worst day of the year for a Target employee, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the woman (front, with skirt) in this 1980 photo. She looks ecstatic to be helping customers wade through the return/exchange line. The man with the hat and glasses is holding an Atari game (he must be exchanging a defective one; no one returned an Atari), and the young girl is holding a basic duffle bag.

 

More Christmas mayhem, from 1984. All we can say about this photo is, "Wow." Not a smiling face in the bunch. Check out the iconic triangular-head Santa hanging from the ceiling.

 

This woman is:

(a) DNT bird-watching blogger John Lundy’s assistant;

(b) A pro football fan watching the game from the worst stadium skybox in history; or,

(c) A Target asset protection manager checking on customer behavior through a peephole.

If you chose answer c, give yourself a pat on the back. In 1990, the News Tribune wrote a story about shoplifting at local stores. Employee Margie Koivunen explained she only used the binoculars if she found something unusual on the television monitors. The closed circuit surveillance monitors are at the far left of Koivunen’s office.


The News Tribune story below says Duluth was in line for a Target Greatland. What happened?

Target Corp. plans to expand Duluth store

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

News-Tribune
Target Corp. is planning to expand and remodel its Duluth store into a Target Greatland, a larger format with more mer-chandise and services than a typical Target store.
Torrie Enget, assistant manager at the Duluth store, said the plans have not yet received final corporate approval. But the Duluth Planning Commission will consider the proposal at its 5 p.m. meeting today.
The store upgrade will be handled differently than most. Normally, the discount retailer would build a new store in the parking lot of the existing one, tearing down the old store when the new one is finished.
But the Duluth store doesn’t have enough room on its property to accommodate such a plan. Enget said the tentative plans call for knocking down some walls in the existing store and adding about 25,835 square feet of warehouse and retail space.
Work could begin in late July and wrap up in summer 2001. The store would remain open during the remodeling, Enget said.
A typical Target store is 90,000 to 125,000 square feet. A Greatland store averages 135,000 square feet, carries more mer-chandise and has wider aisles, among other features.
In addition to the expansion, plans call for adding a second entrance to the store; reconfiguring the parking lot; installing new lighting fixtures; adding new landscaping features; and developing a stormwater management basin at the corner of Mall Drive and Maple Grove Road.
Opened in 1962, the Duluth store was the fourth Target to open and is one of the oldest in the chain.
Target Corp. has grown significantly in recent years. The company operates 1,243 stores in 44 states and posted sales of $2.052 billion in the four weeks ended Jan. 29.


 

 

What’s bad about post-Christmas Target shopping? The long wait in the returns/exchanges line. What’s good about it? The heavy discounts. Above, Marianne Robertson maneuvers her shopping cart through a crowded parking lot after taking advantage of half price sales on gift wrap and presents to give for birthdays the following year.

 

Well, sometimes you make a wrong turn on a shopping trip. In 2007, heavy fall rain swelled nearby Miller Creek and flooded the area around target. Apparently, the driver of the car above lost track of where the road was and drove into a sinkhole.

Here’s an aerial view of Target from a couple weeks ago. The remodling is scheduled to be complete in July.

Central Mini Mall, 1979

December 1979

mall

The Central Mini Mall, seen here in this December 1979 photo, was located at 324 Central Ave. in Spirit Valley in Duluth. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

 

The Central Mini Mall resided at 324 Central Ave. in Duluth’s Spirit Valley in 1979 and was home to such stores as Jeans Jeans and Heather’s Place.
Today, the building houses Beaner’s Central Concert Coffeehouse, where they sell beans instead of jeans.

wreathes

Roberta Willoughby straightens wreathes at Heather’s Place. (1979 file / News-Tribune)

kay

Kay Haugland, owner of Jeans Jeans, takes care of jeans on a store rack. (1979 file / News-Tribune)

shirt

Kay Haugland holds up a sweater at her store, Jeans Jeans. (1979 file / News-Tribune)