Landlord response to the Las Delicias closing

aleton_tn.jpgI contacted Bob Kuyper and asked him for some details on the Las Delicias closing that I blogged about last week. He emailed me back an attached Word doc, which I’ve converted to a PDF and uploaded here.

FYI, the Kuypers are partners in the building with Jeffrey Reiland, the author of the letter to the Northfield Human Rights Commission. The LLC is called Aleton.


Probably the best way to go over the information in this story is give you a letter written by our majority partner in the building to the Northfield Human Rights board.

Bob Kuyper, partner
Aleton LLC


  1. Chip Cuccio said:

    Long-winded (and brutally frank) comments ahead…

    1.) Glad I spent my tax dollars on a kick-butt and incredibly-functional city website, yet the NHRC staff neglects to leverage its capabilities. Seems they don’t update/upload their meeting minutes to their section on city site. Not cool, because I can’t review the apparent Nov. 15 complaint letter to the commission from the Barrientos.

    2.) So because of issue #1, we only have one side of the story readily (electronically) available, and that’s the response letter from the landlord(s). Thanks to Grifff for getting this to the public so rapidly.

    3.) As President Emeritus of my former homeowners association, I’ve conducted plenty of business with one one of the landlords, and I can’t fathom he being unfair in any manner whatsoever. It’s not even close to his personable, professional, and all-out fair style of doing business. That said, I don’t buy any (alleged) exclusivity nor racial complaints against the landlords. The landlords’ letter seems (to me) quite forthright, succinct, and fact-based;
    a.) Tenants were late with lease payments (“continuously”, as the property owners’ letter states)
    b.) If I’m reading the property owners’ statement correctly, it seems that when the tenants did provide their lease payments, the payments were not the contractual amount of $1400 (per month I presume).
    c.) The tenants did not satisfy the $1000/yr. repair obligation in the lease.
    d.) Because of “c”, landlord is not able to attain a rental permit, so now the tenants breach of contract has caused bigger issues for the property owner.
    e.) Evidently, the tenants constructed elements in the living quarters that do not satisfy building codes, further escalating issues “c” and “d”, plus causing potential liability and insurance problems.
    f.) The landlords have a business to run, and are apparently losing money, because they have not raised the current tenants’ lease amount, despite current market value being greater than what the tenants’ are paying. Obviously, if the tenants can’t afford below the current market value, they can’t pay that market value.
    g.) The landlords state that they have spent in the ballpark of $75k in building improvements, and the tenants were not assessed. So the landlords seem to be doing their part in maintaining/improving the property.
    h.) The landlords are willing to work things out with the tenant, as stated in the last paragraph of the letter. The compromise seems nothing but fair to me.

    4.) I get the feeling (and it’s just my feeling thus far) that the tenants simply “milked” the landlords, did things that they weren’t supposed to (e.g. prohibited construction on the property). From the outside, it looks like the landlords called them on it, and the tenants “played the racism card” (read: the easy way out).

    5.) #4 is simply my gut feelings, based on (numerous) accounts as a family member of real estate investors, property owners (both commercial and housing) and landlords. We’ve seen it all.

    So in a nutshell, it looks like the tenants, simply could not afford the lease. They didn’t meet lease obligations, and they claim “problems with our landlords.” Seems to me, the tenants caused their own problems, and the landlords have tried to be quite accommodating. Property owners can be accommodating for only so long, before they lose money on the deal.

    Business is business.

    December 28, 2006
  2. Alex Beeby said:


    I followed you up to item four which implies malicious intent. I wouldn’t go so far as to presume motivations of “milking” and “played the racism card.” They are irrelevant opinions and detract from the apparent facts.

    The tenant was apparently unable to meet lease agreements. The landlord apparently was in a financially disadvantaged situation and would have even needed additional contigencies. Net result: both parties tried the relationship, but it just didn’t work out. No further judgement necessary, except perhaps that it is unfortunate.

    Indeed, business is business, and further, it can only bend so far.

    December 28, 2006
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for chiming in, Chip.

    My neighbor, a Carleton staffer, has been in contact with a Carleton student who’s been involved in these negotiations. When the student returns next week, we’ll hopefully get his/her summary/comments posted here, too.

    December 28, 2006
  4. Chip Cuccio said:

    Alex wrote:

    They are irrelevant opinions […]

    Like I said Alex, it’s just my gut feeling. Moreover, I don’t think they’re irrelevant opinions (more later). Again, my family and friends own numerous properties, and the route the Barrientos took (the complaint to the NHRC of alleged unfair treatment) is a common “cop-out” mechanism I’ve seen used by tenants on more than one occasion.

    Additionally, I was under the impression that opinions were welcome here.

    (They) detract from the apparent facts.

    I disagree, because the tenant clearly filed a “racism” complaint with the NHRC, which makes my comment on that matter, relevant. I stated “what it looks like from the outside”, and there’s nothing wrong with me doing so.

    The tenants claimed racism, which opens a huge can of worms. I’d say that warrants both opinion and judgement from anyone.

    Regardless of race, there are (quite fair) laws in MN that protect both tenants and landlords. However, if a tenant doesn’t satisfy their contractual obligations, or if they violate the terms of a lease, they’ve forfeited their rights as a tenant. Seems cut-and-dry to me.

    December 28, 2006
  5. Bob Kuyper said:

    A point of clarification. The letter to the Human Rights Board was modified slightly to take out our property manager’s name, an ethnic breakdown of our tenants, and some conjectures as to market-value rents. This at the advice of our attorney.

    Thanks for the comments. It was a matter of not being able to afford market rent, not cultural differences, racism or any other factor. We worked to find solutions, but could not come to a satisfactory agreement for both parties.

    Businesses come and go in Northfield, and closing because of not being able to afford overhead is a sad, yet real, possibility for anyone starting a business.

    December 28, 2006
  6. Gary Smith said:

    I’m going to take exception to Chip’s comments about the city web site. The documents Chip speaks about are there and I just looked at them because I got a call from the Strib reporter asking about the content. I’m the staff person responsible for getting the information on the site. I checked and it’s all there and has been there for quite some time. Any documents submitted to the HRC at the meetings are scanned and put up on the website under the supplemental packet information. Judy Dirks is the chair of the HRC so I’ll leave it to her to represent the commission. Please make sure you are looking at the 2006 meeting information and not the new 2007 listing for upcoming meetings

    December 28, 2006
  7. Chip Cuccio said:


    I stand corrected – it’s there, and I’ve located the 2006 documentation.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    – Chip

    December 28, 2006
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    It’s a little tough to read the relevant text of the minutes so I’ll post them here with extra spacing. Again, the original pdf is at:

    Ligia Barrientos, with daughter, Heidi, accompanied by Raj Sethuraju and Carleton student Nicolina Hernandez and Centro Campesino employees Ernesto Busto and Jesus Torres:

    Barrientos has owned Las Delicias restaurant located on Division Street for seven years. She recently received a 30-day eviction notice from the Aleton, a property management firm on the grounds that she has frequently been late with the rent in the past and has not paid the November, 2006 rent at all and that in their apartment above the restaurant, they have erected walls that do not comply with codes.

    Barrientos is requesting the support of the HRC in her request for six more months in the location. She feels discriminated by the Aleton representative, Kate Kuyper, who she says, has ignored her or asked her to wait in her office for lengthy periods of time only to finally depart without attending to her.

    Barrientos further alleges that there are repairs needed that have not been made to the property and suspects that the eviction notice is in retaliation for her request that the repairs be made. She also says that at the time the walls in the apartment were erected, they were approved by the City inspector.

    Her supporters further argued that keeping her on a verbal month-to-month lease was a form of taking advantage of her vulnerability as an immigrant with limited English and limited understanding of the legal implications of remaining on a verbal contract. They also argued that this dispute goes beyond the legal issues at hand regarding contracts and duties of the landowner and the tenant.

    The underlying issues are cultural and linguistic issues that the HRC should work to address on a broad basis for the entire community, beginning with this particular situation.

    The Commission decided to send a letter to Kate Kuyper with a copy to Aleton, the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce and to Ligia Barrientos. This letter will recap the concerns brought before the commission and encourage the use of Rice County Dispute Resolution Program to address them.

    December 28, 2006
  9. (from Aleton’s letter)

    We strive to keep all our buildings in good condition […] Our efforts can be seen at the 1500 & 1516 Jefferson Road.

    Hate to be this guy, but we’re talking of the same two buildings, right?

    December 28, 2006
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Not sure what you mean, Sean… that type of rental unit often has two addresses.

    December 28, 2006
  11. Bob Kuyper said:

    Those are the same two buildings. We bought the buildings a couple of years ago and put over $150,000 into upgrading them and now enjoy a very stable group of tenants.

    December 28, 2006
  12. No, I mean to say that they’re not the most impressive example of a rental.

    December 28, 2006
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    Sean, I’m not sure if you’re being critical of the landlords or the tenants of that unit. Can you say which it is and what your criticism is?

    December 28, 2006
  14. Bob Kuyper said:

    Sean…our rentals are in the $500. to $650. range and we work to provide the nicest and most updated apartments we can for that price point….Bob

    December 28, 2006
  15. I meant the landlords, but I couldn’t say with certainty with whom the fault lies. It just simply doesn’t strike a lay person as an especially well-maintained building. Appearances can be deceiving and if my impression is false, by all means correct me.

    December 28, 2006
  16. Sean… our rentals are in the $500. to $650. range and we work to provide the nicest and most updated apartments we can for that price point… Bob

    Thanks for the correction 🙂

    December 28, 2006
  17. Robert Bonner said:

    There are bound to be conflicting interpretations of the run-up to the termination of the Barrientos family’s leases on the apartment and the Las Delicias restaurant. What seems less likely to be in contention is that this hard-working immigrant family finds themselves right now in a very hard place, having to find a new place to live and figure out another way to make a living. Those of us who have come to respect and admire the family have a chance to step up and help them over this tough patch. A fund has been established at the First National Bank, the Barrientos Family Fund, where people can send donations to help them with rent and other basic expenses while they get their feet under them again. If everyone who enjoyed the restaurant chips in a few dollars it will be a great way to show the town’s support.

    December 28, 2006
  18. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for posting that, Bob.

    For others who might not remember, in the spring of 2005, a successful fundraiser was held at Carleton for the family:

    December 28, 2006
  19. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin said:

    I am new to the discussion, but have known about the Barrientos family since around 1997 when they had a business down on Minnehaha and 38th, or so in Minneapolis. I am also from Guatemala and met them here in Northfield various times as I wanted to connect with Guatemalan families locally. I heard their story sitting for coffee with Mr. Barrientos and really felt their desperation with the situation. I am a business person, I have worked many kinds of businesses, most of the first occupants at El Mercado Central on Bloomington and Lake in Minneapolis came through a training program I used to run in Spanish for the Neighborhood Development Center, etc.

    Now my point and comment: I don’t know the owners of the building, but honestly what I concluded from the information that Mr. Barrients provided me was that his business was not making it. Mr. Barrientos did not share financial information with me so my internal analysis of the business is not good. As I heard and read the story around town, and saw some of the claims and facts, what I see is a very unfortunate situation where a business did not make it, while another is trying to make it by making sound financial and management decisions. In a community where Latino/a immigrants are still involved in the economy at such a marginal level, the landlord’s decision to not renew the contract however sound as a business decision it may be, and however responsibly made, is bound for controversy as the family business was an icon of integration and hopefullness for the diversity of our city. There is no question that this decision is going to hurt the Barrientos family, but then none of us are responsible for running their business and staying current with building code and rental payments. The way the situation has evolved (accusations of racism and discrimination) makes it more difficult to rescue the business, re-structure and re-launch it. The supporters, made a mistake by allowing race and discrimination become part of this, however, if they have a real case, I suggest they pursue it to the end and make things right. On the practical side, if you can, you should support the Barrientos family, the bank account is set-up at First National Bank, “Barrientos Family Fund”, account #218261.

    Help the family if you can, let the business take its course, I know how it feels to have to close your business and loss money (I have closed three businesses myself), I know nobody on the failing side who likes it. As a community we must ensure that there is no injustice,, but unless I am really out of it, the only thing that percolates for me here, a very sad story.

    On another practical view of this, I wouldn’t bring racism and discrimination into the picture, if that was the case and if the facts are correct, why would the landlords rent to them in the first place, keep them bellow market rate, improve the place, etc. It isn’t as if they were of a different race or immigrant background when they received the place in the first place.

    I hope my contribution helps, I live in Northfield and I feel very welcomed and have many friends in the non-Latino community, if any place is racist at the level that is being described, Northfield is not it, at least not for me.

    Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin

    December 28, 2006
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for taking the time to post that, Reginaldo. It’s very helpful to have your perspective.

    December 28, 2006
  21. Elizabeth Schott said:

    As a former restranteur myself, I know how hard it is to establish a successful business. Four out of five fail. I agree with Reginaldo that race should be kept out of the discussion. It is a sad time for the family and perhaps helping them is the way for the community to show support rather than to point fingers.

    December 29, 2006
  22. victor summa said:

    RE: Barrientos and their Landlord problems or… good landlord/tenant relations and other dreams.

    It actually goes much deeper than you see from the surface here in Northfield’s downtown. Buildings are expensive to buy… cost more to maintain, and very difficult to rent for profit. Retail business is generally fragile and often the local small business operators are new to that world, underfunded, lacking in “killer” retail skills… and generally… inveterate dreamers.

    In spite of Chip Cuccio’s extremist words, his understanding (or lack of it) regarding the Barrientos family is unfortunate. Recent comments from Robert Bonner and Elisabeth Schott and especially Reginaldo Haslet-Marroquin are so much closer to the bone than many of the more gossipy comments I’ve read here.

    Is there any progress? One real new gain is the HRC’s recent response. A few years ago when a similar issue (Barrientos v MNdot on HWY. 3 business displacement) was taking place, I went to the HRC on behalf of the Barrientos and their Hwy 3 Groceria, El buen gusto… and was (my opinion) sluffed off.

    Some of the HRC are new and some are still there, but years later they [HRC] seem to take a more active approach to trying to rectify or effect this current rift.

    For the long term that bodes well for the general situation in like circumstances.

    It was back then that the Carleton students really got exercised on behalf of the family who was losing their Groceria on Hwy. 3 to big Orange’s bull dozers and bullying tactics. Language, personalities, and “might is right “ were rampant. Eventually, Barrientos lost! That was slope number one.

    At that time Carleton kids and a lot of locals did raise some $6,000 at a benefit dinner in Great Hall – this helped in the short term but lacking the business skills to ramp up their effort, or overcome the power of MNdot, the Hwy 3 site fell to the wrecker’s ball and now in spite of las Delicias’ popularity with some, the family’s restaurant business seems to all have fallen on “bader” times, (to use our President’s vernacular)

    Kiffi and I eat at las Delicias with regularity, love the food, enjoy the people, and count the Barrientos family as friends… but certainly have that anglo sense of the survival mode of the enterprise, opposed to what might be called good tried and true business practices. Senora Barrientos has made delightful changes in decor, even expanded the menu, but making the turn from survival mode to successful and exciting Division Street eatery hasn’t happened, and evidentially the related revenue flow inhibits a stronger business presence.

    Reginaldo speaks to this. I hope we hear more from Reginaldo and also, that he drops in to the NDDC first Tuesday meetings. I’m personally very interested in what he’s done [Mercado Central, Minneapolis] and, about what he has written. I’d like to meet Mr. Haslet-Marroquin. and benefit from his perspective.

    Otherwise, the Landlord Tenant issue is complex. Clearly landlords in DT Northfield struggle to maintain a level of sustainable operation. Property taxes are HIGH. In fact, it is not uncommon for some potential business operators (wannabes?) feel that the rent rate is high when it merely covers the tax burden. A rate per square foot (we call that rent!) is often seen as “gouging”.
    One property owner I know responds to that attitude in this way: “these buildings are not museums… too often tenants have an attitude of entitlement… they [historic buildings] require financial nurturing in greater amounts than the new [crap] out south on Hwy. 3”.

    A word about use of “CRAP” here. I believe you’ll be able to find use of the “crap” term frequently in meeting minutes of the Plan Commission, and even more often in some Commissioner blogs.

    I use it here for effect, impact and clarity of communication.

    Slope number two. From owners [Ideal Cafe] we’ve read about the cost of restoration of the [las Delicias] facade. This is true. And downtown N’fld is the better for that effort and expenditure. Still, you might ask, (Mrs. Barrientos & others too) does maintenance of the exterior provide a significantly better and therefore more valuable site for the Barrientos restaurant. business… and therefore demand rent increases, or should the exterior be maintained regardless of tenant, business, and cash flow?

    And, perhaps more relevant… what about the interior? Bad shape to be sure. Whose responsibility is that? Toss up. But, if the Landlord goes that route, it [LL] is clearly adding value to the rental space and therefore [the landlord] is entitled to more rent. Regardless of tenant’s cash flow?

    On the other hand, if the tenant is pumping money into the building, it deserves a reasonable [low] rent rate… along with other leasing terms that make for a win win situation, and provide for the development of a long term viable business in the DT. If all parties aren’t talking the same lingo [regardless of language] then there’s likely to be misunderstanding and bad feelings. Confusion over english terms is implied in the HRC minutes.

    Also, because N’fld historic building’s value are so high (see cost of purchase and then check Taxable Market Value) and most indicators say the DT’s properties are ALL worth more, therefore, can they [the building’s] realize their worth in rent revenue increases? In other words, the character of the business comes into play, when the business doesn’t cash flow well, Tenant’s revenues are down… but Landlord’s cost are still rising. So, is there’s a unreasonable disconnect in motives and methods here?

    Where does this put businesses such as that which the Barrientos pursue? Look at the following uses:

    (HOME) To some extent, this property represents a home: the family occupies the apartment in the upper floor. Some of the family live there. Evidently it’s cramped and inadequate, in need or repair… and [inappropriately or not?] cut up with the addition of some walls.

    (BUSINESS) They also operate the restaurant for profit (probably marginal) and I’d add, the product is better than the business. Personally I find the food very good, authentic, pleasantly presented and not your usual blob of semi ethnic fare often passing for authentic [fill in the country] food.

    (PURPOSE) It’s a different environment…. Mrs. Barrientos potentially could have a much more successful business. Clearly there’s room for improvement, that is unless the owners are satisfied.

    Nonetheless: Can Northfield’s main street afford to have one of its limited venues [count the store fronts on Division Street – there’s not a lot to choose from if you’re looking to start a business] be devoted to running an insubstantial business? (By whose measure?) While it serves many purpose for the family… food, shelter, and some revenue… it might be argued that it is not the best use of the limited locations on Division Street… when synergy is so important to all the businesses along the avenue, and conventional “bottom line concerns” are preeminent.

    Add in the front loaded costs of maintenance and taxes and interest on loans to purchase, and you see an equation that simply adds up to higher needs, hence higher rents. The word for all this must be “conundrum”.

    Elisabeth Schott speaks of the rigors and tribulations of the restaurant business. Mrs. Barrientos may not include all those that Elisabeth alludes too… but Mrs. Barrientos can likely add a whole list of her own… and in this case, that includes Landlord conflict.

    (FULL DISCLOSURE) A personal Note: Our building [former Bagel Bros location] has been empty for 2 years effective Monday 1/1/07. I have had numerous Hispanic families approach me to rent. I assure you none were funded to allow the deal to happen, regardless of my rent rate. Incidentally, I’ve had only a few (three in two years) that I’d call sincere discussions with other potential tenants, and as you can see, none of these has produced a tenant.

    (TENANT FUNDING) Regardless, I was not inclined to contribute to the “build out” for these potential ethnic restaurant tenants, as they would be in direct conflict with my friend and neighbor, las Delicias. Still, the Barrientos could not afford this space with the associated build out costs w/o a better business plan and its execution. Dilemma!

    It gets worse.

    The taxes on that space (one single 2000 sq. ft space) in my building are $650 a month, $7,800 a year… and going up! – At $10 a square foot, were talking another $20,000 a year. for rent… and they haven’t even bought a dill pickle to thinly slice yet.

    Knowledgeable and dependable sources tell me a space the size of the Bagel Bros shop in N’fld might gross $350,000 a year. Food costs at 33% reduce that to $233,000. Utilities take about another $12,000 a year. Three 40 hour a week employees at $10.00 and hour, another $62,400, Debt service on $150,000 build out (see below) tied to a 5 year lease eats another $37,200 annually [based on 5 yrs. @ 8.5 %] and lets use a conservative $24,000 annually for garbage, book keeping, employee benefits, advertising and assorted operating expenses and the very real “miscellaneous”. Then, totaling this we come up with $368,600.. in expenditures and only $350,000 gross revenue. Hmmm… only $18,600 in the hole… and oh yes we haven’t paid the owner a penny. Hmmmmmmmmmm?

    (Build out Costs) To turn my 2000 Sq. ft space into a food producing kitchen such as the Ideal’s, would cost $75,000 to $150,000 dollars, and… such upgrades (interior only) would trigger additional costs to meet building code requirements necessitated by the initial investment (making changes) to start the new business (e.g. a second public rest room).

    NOTE: Any significant change in the physical nature of the interior of the Ideal would DEMAND a change in the restroom… almost an impossibility in that cramped quarters.

    Meanwhile, we haven’t even addressed cosmetic improvements to change a Bagel shop into a La Cantina on the Cannon. And, likely ( Read Elizabeth Schott’s comments) the restaurant will fail.

    When real business practices and preferred measures are employed, las Delicias probably doesn’t meet the criteria for stunning success, no matter how many satisfied low budget customers they have. Another reality is, trying to meet its [Landlord’s] needs. The landlord must operate at another level than is that of the tenant family.

    So, when the Ideal Cafe location was not too effective a rental spot, the most workable deal for the Landlord might have been a family operated restaurant.

    But, as space becomes more critical and if new owners can seek stronger tenants with greater potential, is that wrong?

    Well if your the displaced tenant (again!) it sure makes you wonder.

    Only when we replace “profit driven” with “sustainable purpose” might we then be able to save some little places and little spaces and all enjoy a more reasonable meal… or buy records (Cds) needle & thread, or underwear, etc. locally.

    I didn’t read much concern for that in Chip Cuccio’s diatribe.

    Everything else, about walls in apartments, in or out of code… leaking roofs, broken this and damaged that… until some empirical proofs are offered, we’re all outside looking in. And today, I guess the Barrientos are too. There’s little good here.


    December 31, 2006
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    This was posted to the StarTribune website this morning at about 10:30 am. Thanks to Catherine McBride for the heads-up. It’ll likely appear in the Wed paper, South edition.

    Did eatery close due to typical dispute or discrimination? A popular Guatemalan restaurant in downtown Northfield closed last weekend because of rocky relations between the family that ran it and their landlords.

    Also, Ross Currier has a post to the NDDC weblog titled Las Delicias Closing Points to Economic Challenge.

    January 2, 2007
  24. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin said:

    I am wondering if anybody has information on how succesful and popular Las Delicias really was. I saw the numbers posted above refering to operating costs associated with operating a business on Division Street, but so far I have not heard a single fact about how Las Delicias was really doing. Qualifications as “successful” from the Barrientos posting on the window,and “popular” from bloggers are out there but these are not facts. I assume that the restaurant was broke and that is why the troubles started. If it was really successful and popular, then why did the Barrientos end-up having trouble paying their rent, etc. On the other hand, this will probably be my second and last posting on this matter, unless something new comes up, I don’t see the need to keep beating on this. It would be great to have some more diversity on Main Street though, if anyone has an idea of what we should be attracting to this area of Downtown, I am up for a discussion on that aspect. I like to say that I don’t solve problems, I like to take advantage of opportunities instead. The vacated space gives us frequent visitors of downtown an opportunity to try to invite businesses that we would like to see populating and diversifying Division Street.

    You can write to me if you want at, just please no more about Las Delicias. Thank you.


    January 2, 2007
  25. There is much concern about money and product in regards to closing business Las Delicias. I wonder if there was ever a seminar given on how to maximize business?

    I would love to see retailers in downtown Northfield
    understand a few things like:

    1. How to welcome a customer into your store.

    2. How to operate a store with clean, unperfumed air.

    3. How to give the customer the product you say you
    are giving them.

    4. How to follow up on an order.

    5. How to say “Thank you for stopping by.” or something similar.

    6. How to not complain about all your ailments on the phone while people are looking around the shop…and many more of these annoying types of activities.

    7. How to make shopping and visiting your store an experience that people would like to repeat, rather than avoid.

    January 5, 2007
  26. victor summa said:

    Bright -you’re perspective is very interesting – I wonder if you’d feel comfortable participating in next Tues (jan 9) NDDC meeting (8 AM at the Arch. House Mtg Room, lower level) on the economics of DT Northfield. it’s billed as sort of a brain-storming event – e.g. problems listed and follow up dialogue about solutions.

    I’m listed (inappropriately) as an expert panelist. Your opinions would be welcomed by this “expert” as it is objectivity in the process of seeking subjective views that I think may help move us forward (in our thinking) toward success.

    SUMMARY: Are you saying all those [in your] listed personal traits that you find offensive cause DT N’fld’s fragile retail economy? Come tell us more.


    January 5, 2007
  27. Thanks for the invitation, Victor, but I cannot make it.
    Would be happy to meet with people another time, or send
    some copious notes through to you…well, one page.


    January 5, 2007
  28. victor summa said:

    Hello Bright! _ I don’t have an E address for you so I’m respnding here publicly – Sorry you can’t make the NDCC meeting. I’ll present your list from LG posting. In fairness to you, i must tel you; I can’t defend them (won’t assial them) and don’t feel that these are too relevant to the over arching strugle of N’fld’s DT – BUTttttttttttt, as your remarks are clearly those of an unsatisified consumer… and SATISFIED consumers are part of the mix, let’s see how they (your remarks ) fly on the public stage.

    thanx again


    January 6, 2007
  29. VS-I agree with you 100% about the causes of DT strugggles. And I will also admit to being a sensitive, as are many other people who are potential
    customers. I put together a little ditty, leaving off
    the two dozen or so various ways which I consider
    unprofessional actions which pretty much turned me
    off to several shops, some of which have already gone down.


    I want to go shopping as an escape, an information gathering event, a respite from my daily life, a chance to find a great item, and maybe to have a bit of a chat or joke with another human.

    In answer to your summary question, my observations that I find annoying are certainly reasons why I do not return to certain businesses. If the business is new, I will try again, allowing time for them to find their legs. If the business is more established, I will give them another chance, but after that, they are pretty much off my list of places to revisit.

    On a personal level, I am not overly concerned with whether or not I am treated well, or whether the business stays or goes. Mostly I feel sad that people just don’t know how to create a world that people want to enter and return to often enough to maintain their business.

    The real solution is to get everybody into a monthly seminar on ways to make their shops feel good to people, their products worth buying, their
    attitudes and personalities more likable, and their store fronts more appealing.


    Some examples of places that have it completely right outside are Blue
    Monday, Northfield Arts Guild, River City Books, Carleton Capital Mgmt,
    The Hideaway.


    Shops I would like to see, that are hard to duplicate on the Internet:

    A shop where customized wood furniture was made or at least ordered and
    displayed. An organizing shop for closets and office materials.
    A wedding consultant shop.
    A specialties dessert place, like French Bakery, the authentic type of
    thing, with quiches and flourless cakes and chocolate specialties,
    homemade bread with really good flour. A women’s clothing store like
    Nona Boyes in Faribault. A perfumery. Cooking utensils, pans and
    restaurant supplies. A single artist’s gallery shop.
    A real old fashioned deli, like corned beef, liverwurst, roast beef,
    swiss cheese and rye bread with pickles on the table, and horse radish
    and great root beer and real lemonade. More meat and fresh bread than
    we see now. I am 95% vegetarian, but I know what’s good eating. 🙂


    Fifty years in the landscape garden and wedding business:
    Clarence greeted everyone with “Hello, are you lovebirds here for a wedding?” He smiled and laughed and made everyone feel like he had been waiting just for them. He was in his nineties when I knew him.

    Twenty years in the floral business:
    Whenever a woman would walk in, one of the owners, Bob, would sing
    “There she is -Miss or Mrs. America” and his wife Susie would laugh and everyone
    would smile and laugh. Then the return customer would place an order of flowers for a special occassion.
    they held their customer base for decades.

    Thirty years in the custom made shoes and repair business:
    Karl greeted everyone warmly and always had a joke for them…all the while he worked on shoes. His son has a roofing business and always
    tells a joke. His customers still send him jokes from around the country.

    Forty Years in the dry goods business:
    Stevie always told people “Just ask if you don’t see what they are looking for.” She crocheted afghans all the while she sat in her shop for the annual church auction. Everyone in the neighborhood knew her,
    her beautiful afghans, and her successful dry goods shop…kind of like Jacobsen’s, but not so crowded with goods.

    A little kind word goes a long way, as does humor.
    Karl often told the same joke over and over, but he
    was so nice that everyone laughed anyway.

    It takes a little effort, but is well worth it.

    Here is my addy, if you need clarification, specific ideas or whatever. I would love to see DT become a shining diamond of the art world.


    January 6, 2007
  30. Ross Currier said:


    Please note, you are considered a “guest expert” not an expert panelist. As such, do not expect a special seat at the table. You will be seated with the rest of the rabble, which will hopefully include other guest experts such as Joe Grundhoefer, Anne-Marie Boyle, Steve Schmidt and Mary Rossing.

    As far as I can tell, an “expert” lives within the 50-mile consultant radius and so will not be paid for their opinions. Furthermore, their ideas are often ignored in favor of those of someone who has flown in on an airplane.

    However, the NDDC tends to swim against the current. We will listen to your opinions and we will pay you…in cookies.

    See you Tuesday,


    January 6, 2007

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