Items related to downtown Northfield

NDDC promotes Currier, welcomes Bierman

The Board of Directors of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) recently promoted executive director Ross Currier from a half-time to a full-time position. At the same time, the board welcomed new member Robert Bierman (Bierman’s Home Furnishings and Floor Coverings) as he begins a three-year board term.

Ole Store closed for at least a month

Sean Hayford O'Leary of Locally Grown noticed that the Ole Store website has this notice:


We've opened a forum thread to discuss the changes and reminisce about good times you've had there...

Local bookseller gets industry notice

If you get a minute, stop by Monkey See Monkey Read and visit with owner Jerry Bilek. He's not just a nice guy, but he's one of the bright spots in downtown. And now others are taking notice. Jerry was just featured in a profile in the industry publication Shelf Awareness.

Jerry is running a great store, which is amazing in a time when independent booksellers are an endangered species. He's not just waiting for people to walk in the door, though he's unfailingly helpful when they do. He also spends all his free time running a thriving Internet business, seeking out bargains and rare finds that let him beat some of the big sellers on price. 

And he listens to customers. He recently told me that when a couple of teens came in asking about Japanese anime publications, he only had two titles -- and very little understanding of the genre. Instead of blowing off the young customers, he talked to them and asked them for recommendations. He ordered their choices, they told their friends and now he has the broadest selection in the area -- and a new customer base. 

Snow fizzled but Winter Stomp rocked the house

winter stompMy wife and I were two of the hundreds of dancers who kicked up our heels at last night's fantastic Winter Stomp at the Northfield Armory. Susie Nakasian sent us a great report on the evening, along with a link to a great set of photos from the event (just click on the image to see them all), taken by Mark Heiman.

Here are Susie's notes from the evening: 

"It was a lot of fun! ... more than even I expected (and I have always had a confident sense of the potential "fit" of this particular tradition for Northfield).

The attempt at a count (before the dance started moving) was 240 people but those who tended the door said that another 35 or so came in after that! We really would have had a hard time squeezing another dancer onto the Armory dance floor..

The two things that people commented on (besides the exceptionally good musicians - they really are superb) were: 1. the mix of people from Northfield—people from St. Olaf, Carleton, and Northfield townsfolk, and the interesting cross-section among the latter; and, 2. the successful inter-generational mix (and the fun that the little kids were having watching and mimicking and simply gawking at the spectacle of the dance in that beautiful wide-eyed way that kids take in the world).

This week in the forums: In like a lion

There's something in the air tonight, baby, and it's the forums!  (Previous link contains bad language in the comments, which is too bad because it's mind-bendingly awesome.)

Bright Spencer hands out "Bright's Downtown Shop Award":

Bright Spencer:  

Today I went to Anna's.  IF the lady with the dark black medium length hair is Anna, I am talking about her.  She was marvelous, waiting on 3-4 people at once, and saying all the right things without being saccharin or phoney.  Now there is a lady who knows her business, seems to like what she is doing, is welcoming, polite, funny, and really helpful.

This Week in the Northfield Forums - Post-Valentine's Day Edition

Valentine's Day has come and gone again, so one last Valentine's haiku for you, my love:

I post this for you
type type type type type type type
type type type type.  There!

I have also arranged a special solo performance, mon ami.  And now, to the forums! 

The New/Old/Possible City Liquor store sparked some interest this week:

John Thomas wrote:

A bigger store will have a large debt service, as well as an increased labor cost to staff and stock it. If the store is only making several hundred thousand dollars a year, it will take quite a while to pay back the note on a new building.

It just seems like there are more important things for the City Council to be working on. Selling more booze for profit is not going to save this community, or pay for its parks and pools.

Congratulations to Hayes Scriven and NHS

Let's add our congratulations to those of everyone else at the news that Hayes Scriven has gone from interim to permanent executive director of the Northfield Historical Society. You can read the details here, and add your best wishes in comments below.

Hayes has been a great asset to NHS and I'm excited that his contributions are being rewarded. Great job! 

New downtown signs planned: pick your favorites

OK, we usually don't run graphics this large. But I wanted you to see the cool options Neuger Communications has developed for use in coordinating a series of signs to be used to help people get around downtown and find all the great things there.

So, which one do you like?

That's the question Randy Jennings is going to be asking people around town the next few weeks. You can get a head start by casting your vote in the comment field below.

Randy made a presentation on the sign project to the NDDC forum Tuesday, and the city could be making a decision for them to start popping up this summer.  You can read the whole report here (PDF).

Downtown talkers move dangerously close to action

In what has become a regular ritual, dozens of downtown business people again took up tablets and pencils on Tuesday to write down what they know about themselves and the rest of downtown and suggest ways to improve things.

Although it wavered on the brink of another session of beating a dead horse, the sheer numbers of people attending gave it sense of urgency, of frustration, a feeling that this time people really are pushing for action. Whether that will come and when remains a question. I talked to the heads of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northfield Downtown Development Corp. after the meeting at The Grand Event Center and asked what the next step is.

You guessed it..."We're creating a task force."

Downtown Forum moved to the Grand

Due to the anticipated size of the turn-out for tomorrow's Downtown Forum, the NDDC and the Chamber have graciously accepted the offer of Chuck Pryor to move the event to The Grand. For anyone not familiar with downtown, the Grand Event Center is two blocks south and one block east of the Archer House at 316 Washington Street, or the corner of 4th and Washington Streets. The time remains 8 am, Tuesday, February 6th.

Downtown Northfield is fortunate to not only have such historic buildings as the 1877 Archer House and the 1899 Grand (originally the Ware Auditorium) but to have such great building owners as Brett Reese (the Archer House) and Chuck Pryor (the Grand). Thanks guys, it's your efforts, investments and generosity that help make Downtown Northfield a great place.

Quad’s: New name, new vision

Many of you may have noticed the recent name change of Dad’s restaurant in River Park Mall to Quad’s Bar and Grill. This marks the second name change in recent years for the location (it was Diamond Dave’s Bar and Grill before Dad’s). I chatted with Mike Hoover, the new owner and former owner of both the Ranch House and Wiggles & Wok, about the name change and about his vision of the establishment.

Mike and his wife Kari, who works at the Northfield Hospital, decided on the name Quad’s to pay homage to their four children. With a very family oriented owner, perhaps Quad’s will become more family friendly, a complaint that John Thomas had in the forums.

Though lacking the history of places like the Rueb ‘N’ Stein and the Contented Cow, Quad’s offers a very comforting environment and a healthy mix of local residents and students. Quad’s has been doing great business of late and has become somewhat of a cult favorite among students at Carleton, where many did not know of its existence before this year.

NDDC, Chamber to team up on retail issues

Well, it seems we're going to try this one more time, with a twist. The Northfield Downtown Development Corp. is going to use its monthly Tuesday morning forum to talk about retail issues...again...but this time the NDDC will share hosting duties with the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce.  The city's Economic Development Authority has asked the two groups to work together, something that seems too obvious to mention.

The twist is that the point of the meeting is to get past just talking about problems and create a task force to take action. It would seem a task force would just be a member of the NDDC, the Chamber, EDA, the Enterprise Center and Convention and Visitors Bureau, all coordinating their efforts. And isn't that going on now?? If not, how are the groups avoiding gaps and redundancies and making sure they are using tax money and member fees most efficiently?

Revitalizing downtown Northfield: What’s on sale?

I love to shop, even when I have no money. 

With all the talk about revitalizing downtown Northfield, I decided to seek out sales to hopefully add to our town’s economy (and escape from my school stress). I set a price line of $5.  I wasn’t going to touch anything higher than that. 

The first store I was attracted to was Lena’s Hus, a nice boutique with Scandinavian gifts.  It had signs screaming 60% off.  This was definitely eye candy to me.  Lena’s Hus has some interesting items on sale, including spunky gift bags that say “Older, Wiser, Sexier,” which I bought for less than $3, birch wood coasters, cards, candles, and an assortment of other colorful items.  Though these weren't on sale, you should go check out their collection of newly arrived glass doves.  Your guests would be awed if you own a pair of these in your home.  They come in all sorts of swirly colors.  Even if you don’t find anything interesting, you’ll find the big fluffy (and quiet) dog behind the counter to be quite charming.  Also, ask about the horse in the picture frame behind the register counter. 

Weekend Entertainment and Events

0207Guide InteractiveThere's no limit to the exciting February events that are happening in Northfield! It all starts this weekend.

Thursday: Jeff Ray will walk a thin line between blues and folk while strumming and singing for The Tavern crowd.

Friday: Bernice Johnson Reagon will deliver song and speech about her 40-year journey as a cultural activist, drawing on life stories of 19th- and 20th-century African American women. Held at Skinner Memorial Chapel, Carleton, from 10:50-11:50 a.m. At 6 p.m., make sure you stop by Grezzo Gallery for the opening of Lindsy Halleckson's art show. Also at the art show, you'll hear live music from Gospel Gossip and Sick of Sarah. Live music, art & wine, it doesn't get better than that! Coffeehouse Writers' Night starts at 7:30 p.m. at Tiny's – bring your writing to share or just come to support those who are sharing their work.

Saturday: 'Poetry in the Prairie' highlights the poetry of Northfielder Scott King at the Maltby Nature Preserve. He'll read from his book "Leftover Ordinary" starting at 7 p.m. If you're in the mood for theater, make your way to the Northfield Arts Guild to witness opening night of Forcefield's Third Annual Community Cabaret. The cabaret begins at 7:30 p.m. – call 645-8877 for ticket information.

The Northfield Entertainment Guide is growing! Check out the new extended size of the Guide – it's packed with information about all the local happenings!

City-wide Wifi is coming... soon!

Northfield Wifi ScreenshotI just got off the phone with Nate Lyon, one of the owners of Northfield Wifi, which is a new ISP (Internet Service Provider) in town. The newsworthy part of is that they will be offering wireless internet (WiMax) for the entire town. (Five mile radius, big brick buildings, yadda yadda.)

This is a paid service, mind you, the same as cable internet or DSL offerings. This is a bit different than the free Wi-Fi Access Points around town that we list, which are intended to bring customers into local businesses. Competition and choices in this area are great for us Northfielders.

Nate will be doing this with Ted Lyons, whose name similarities are merely coincidental. Northfield Wifi will be open for business in three weeks and they're beta testing with a select group around town right now. According to Nate, "When we go live, we will be one of the fastest residential ISP's in the 5 state area, if not the US."

Syndicate content