In late 2014, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges dubbed the stretch of Minnehaha Avenue running from Lake Street to the Minnehaha Falls the “Minnehaha Mile” to highlight the unique cadre of businesses that have popped up over the last few years. It boasts more antique, retro, reuse, and vintage stores per mile than any other commercial corridor in the state. But those businesses are threatened by a long-planned redesign of Minnehaha Avenue. Construction on that stretch started earlier this summer, and these new businesses are struggling to survive it.
That’s why Robert Felton and Julie Kearns launched Out and About Along the Minnehaha Mile, an event in September that aims to connect the LGBT community to these businesses.
The duo met earlier this summer. “We talked about how antiques and the community are what brings people to this neighborhood and how we should focus more on those two items: community and antiques,” Felton told The Column.
“The Minnehaha Mile is an experience; it is a retail destination like no other,” says Felton. “These businesses are important to support because they offer a unique service that other places don’t have. They are like the apple and the spoon or the Walker Art Center. They are also awesome because Longfellow and the Minnehaha Mile is a community.”
Kearns, who owns Junket: Tossed and Found, one of the Minnehaha Mile stores, adds, “We’re working to develop the area as a first-of-its-kind corridor for sustainable shopping. Reuse is a critical piece in the environmental equation.
Kearns noted that people can save 750 gallons of water simply by buying a used pair of 501 jeans. That’s how much water is used to create a new pair.
“I want our community to have a FUN way to shop responsibly because Goodwill just ain’t cutting it for the general population,” she says. “If we can make reuse the new normal, and make vintage more than something that’s on-trend right now, and drive behavior changes that lead others to decide to join us as shop owners or patrons, we’ll be having a direct and positive environmental impact.
Indeed, some of the stores along Minnehaha are environmental by design. Natural Built Homes specializes in non-toxic and repurposed building materials with items like paint with zero volatile organic compounds, recycled glass bottle countertops, and hemp-wool blend carpeting.
Other shops, like E’s Emporium, Family Estate Sales, and Paris Antiques offer antique and mid-century modern furnishings. Time Bomb and Plum Crabby specialize in retro and vintage.
With the construction happening along Minnehaha, some of these businesses are struggling to make ends meet, Kearns notes.
“Most of the shops have been around for less than 2 years, so a lot of us are scraping and scrappy while the road work is being done,” she says. “We’ve had a lot of momentum to get where we are, and we really could use added support to keep things going and growing as the construction continues through 2016.”
Felton said its also about supporting a great, grassroots neighborhood. “After working with the Longfellow businesses and neighborhood associations, it is a neighborhood to be jealous of. They support each other, create events bigger then just themselves and they grassroots everything. It is a dream neighborhood and I admire them greatly.”
When Felton started to promote the event, he had a question from a friend: “Is this like a pub crawl but with antiques and GLBTQ+ people?”
His response, “Yes it is!”
Out and About Along the Minnehaha Mile will take place on Thursday, September 17 from 5:30 to 8pm. For more information and updates about the event, visit Facebook.