Feedback and Input Requested: What Businesses or Services Would You Like to See in Northfield?

Many of our discussion threads veer off in the direction of, “What Northfield really needs is a ____________.” Now would be a particularly significant time to devote a whole post and discussion to the topic.

The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation‘s “E.R. Team” has been working on some new initiatives in the areas of business expansion and recruitment, gathering data from a report by Dahlgren Shardlow Uban in 2003 and an NDDC Input-Gathering Session held in 2006. (I hope they’re also factoring in the target industry sectors which were recommended in the 2006 TIP Strategies Economic Development Plan.)

To see if there are new suggestions, and to confirm that the existing ideas still hold water despite the economic brouhaha, I’d like to ask: “What business(es) would you like to see added to Northfield? and/or “What kind of new business(es) would thrive in Northfield?”

Thoughts and comments?


  1. Anthony Pierre said:

    a burrito place

    August 25, 2008
  2. Heidi Cooke said:

    We need a Trader Joe’s!

    p.s. We did have an awesome burrito place – Maria’s.

    August 25, 2008
  3. Patrick Enders said:

    Yes, another restaurant: Thai.

    I would say a (non-video) game store, but I don’t see how we could support one.

    Not much else missing, really.

    August 25, 2008
  4. David Schlosser said:

    Office supply store. While Target and the college bookstores offer some good selection, it would be nice to have one retail establishment that just specializes in them.

    August 25, 2008
  5. Mary Schier said:

    Bring back Bagel Brothers, or something like it.

    August 25, 2008
  6. Rob Hardy said:

    We used to have Town and Country Office Supply, next to the Quality Bakery. Does their demise mean that Northfield can’t, in fact, support an office supply store?

    I would like a place downtown where I can buy Converse All-Stars and blue jeans. A place I would call “Jacobsen’s.” Other than that, an Apple Store would be nice, or any place that deals with Macs. I hate having to go to the “genius bar” at the MOA.

    August 25, 2008
  7. David Schlosser said:

    I think Northfield can support a better run office supply store. Town and Country had very irregular/unreliable hours, often closing in the middle of the day, and service.

    August 25, 2008
  8. Arlen Malecha said:

    I too think Northfield could support an office supply store that also offers services like Kinko’s does.

    I also think an Italian restaurant in the former Lansing hardware building would be great. I love the big windows on the front of the building.

    August 25, 2008
  9. Tracy Davis said:

    I second Patrick’s vote for a Thai restaurant.

    Another retail business I’d like to see is something that carries fabric/notions/yarn and other needlework supplies. Jacobsen’s used to supply the local quilters, and Cottage Industry was great for yarn. I’m not big on sewing or crafts, but it’s frustrating for simple mending to not have any place in town to purchase thread in any color other than black, brown, navy, or white. I’d even thought about begging Linda at Digs or even Econofoods to have a thread display stand; they don’t have a very big footprint.

    August 25, 2008
  10. I would like to see any authentic ethnic restaurant, Americanized, of course.

    I would like to see a ladies’ dress store with on site tailoring. Also a nice shoe store, a cut or two above Target quality and style.

    That’s it…turn Northfield into Beverly Hills, complete with Rodeo Drive. 🙂

    August 25, 2008
  11. Jerry Bilek said:

    Rare Pair has an excellent selection of shoes.

    August 25, 2008
  12. Jessica Paxton said:

    Hey, Tracy — when’s the last time you were in digs? We’ve been selling tons-o-thread, fabric, sewing notions, yarn and knitting/felting supplies, embroidery needles/floss/patterns, craft books — you name it — for years. There’s a huge thread display stand downstairs — featuring every color of the rainbow and then some.

    August 25, 2008
  13. Jessica Paxton said:

    A Thai or a Japanese restaurant would be fabulous! And a bigger, better-scheduled farmer’s market (that included edibles as well as hand-made goods). A store that sold “gently worn” yet stylish clothes for kids would be nice, too. I’d also like to not have to drive to Burnsville or the Mall of America to buy quality shoes for kids. But overall, I really feel that there’s an amazingly diverse range of products and services offered in Northfield, especially considering the size of the town. Prior to living in Northfield I lived in Chaska and Excelsior — both communities that are often “praised” on this site — and let me tell you, Northfield offers a far better selection of necessities than either of those towns. And Tony, if you wanna great burrito, check out the “border bustin'” one at Tiny’s. Taste-a-licious!

    August 25, 2008
  14. Tracy Davis said:

    Jessica – Obviously it *has* been awhile since I’ve been downstairs at Digs!

    I knew this thread would help suss out things people are looking for that might already be available in town. Thanks for the update.

    August 25, 2008
  15. Penny Roy said:

    Dear Tracy Davis,
    There is a new fabric and Craft Store in town, it just opened 6 weeks ago its behind McDonalds 2 doors down from the Brick Oven.
    PJ’S Fabric and Crafts
    660 Professional Dr

    Penny Roy

    August 25, 2008
  16. Besides Digs, PJ’s Fabric and Crafts opened in July behind McDonalds at 660 Professional Drive. For some reason, lately when I have done Welcome Service calls, several people have asked me about nearby quilting supplies. So now I know where to send them.

    August 25, 2008
  17. Jessica Paxton said:

    Yes, PJ’s is another wonderful addition to the community, especially since they focus more on fleece and quilting supplies. Crafters of the community shout hooray!

    FYI: similar to swag, digs is spelled with a lowercase “d” — can you dig it?!?

    August 25, 2008
  18. John S Thomas said:

    1. Continued growth, and possible expansion of Just Food, with an expanded deli bar.

    2. Chipolte in the crossing.

    3. The expansion of one of the geek shops in town, with basic parts, and solid repair services of both PCs and Macintosh. (Have to go to Owatonna for Macintosh right now)

    4. Sushi… somewhere, and Thai as well.

    5. The farmers market moved to the new park at 5th & Water streets.

    6. Any new family friendly restaurant, that does not serve the common burger/pizza menu.

    7. A good men’s store, a good shoe store.

    8. Not so much fast food. Quality restaurants, with good food at a fair price, with some diverse menus.

    And as my final wish, a more organized, more business friendly environment in Northfield, where existing small business owners can grow and thrive. We have some great small businesses and restaurants, but I know that many struggle day to day to keep the doors open.

    August 25, 2008
  19. Katie Prichard said:

    I would love to see a toy store in town. There used to be one in Faribault, I think it was called the Toy Chest, but I believe it’s been closed for a number of years. Possibly a toy/game store?

    August 25, 2008
  20. David Ludescher said:

    College City Beverage, Ryt-Way, Malt-O-Meal, and Taylor Trucking.

    August 25, 2008
  21. Patrick Enders said:

    Sweet Pea’s Loft has some interesting toys.

    August 25, 2008
  22. Felicity Enders said:

    John (#16) – both less fast food and more Chipotle? You can’t have it both ways. But I’m with you on “any new family friendly restaurant.”

    I vote for:

    A Thai restaurant!!!!

    A sushi joint

    A place that sells real boardgames (strategic as well as party games – Jerry, I’ll keep hinting on that one!)

    And as long as I’m dreaming…. KITES. 4-, 2-, and 1-string kites of all sizes, shapes, colors, and designs. With a stock of sleds and snowshoes for the winter.

    And a canoe/kayak rental at the refurbished kayak run replacing the dam.

    August 25, 2008
  23. Felicity Enders said:

    PS – The Sketchy Artist also has some fun toys.

    August 25, 2008
  24. Britt Ackerman said:

    Its extremely difficult for local restaurants to achieve long-term viability. That being said, I think that a restaurant that offers delivery (Thai would be good) and late night hours would be successful. With two colleges plus a substantial bedroom community, I’m surprised there aren’t more delivery options.

    August 25, 2008
  25. Krin Finger said:

    The Rare Pair carries Converse All-Stars
    For Men, Women and Kids

    August 25, 2008
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    How about a music store?

    How about a motorcycle/scooter dealership?

    August 26, 2008
  27. I have been to Rare Pair and nothing fit my long thin foot and there were no dress shoes, as I define them anyway. They do have lovely jewelry though.

    August 26, 2008
  28. Another jewelry store would be nice. Not the diamond kind, we already have that, but a large variety of fun and funky and far out stuff.

    August 26, 2008
  29. John S Thomas said:


    There is a scooter dealership, just past Youngs Paint in Dundas, on the left hand side, just at the intersection with HWY 1.

    I just saw it last weekend. They had 5 or 6 scooters out front.

    August 26, 2008
  30. Tom Feiler said:

    thai, chipotle, bagels

    August 26, 2008
  31. Mary Rossing said:

    I carried kites all spring and summer. Look for them again in April–national kite month! Come in and look at the catalogue and tell me which ones to order!
    I have toys. Tell me what you what you would like that I don’t have.
    Present Perfect

    August 26, 2008
  32. William Siemers said:

    A French restaurant…bistro style.

    August 26, 2008
  33. Marie Fischer said:

    I’m going to be much less specific and just say ‘good food’.
    I’m sick of driving to the gross suburbs to get some decent thai/chipotle/sushi. Actually that was kind of specific wasn’t it?
    While I’m at it: I’m going to have to jump on the office supplies boat, and, being who I am, I’m also going to say that a bigger youth center would be great.

    August 26, 2008
  34. Marie Fischer said:

    OH GRIFF (#27) Fine Groove is AMAZING. Plus, if he doesn’t have what you’re looking for (which seldom happens) he can ORDER IT!!! Plus, the records are a steal and he gets the cool music magazines from other countries that you can’t find around here all the time.

    August 26, 2008
  35. Rob Hardy said:

    Thanks, Krin, for the heads up on Converse All-Stars at the Rare Pair.

    Griff, a music store that sold and repaired instruments, and sold sheet music, would be great. Somewhere where, for instance, my sons could get guitar strings and oboe reeds and the sheet music for Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.” Remember Centerfield Music? How I longed for the beautiful dobro that used to sit in the window. If only I could play dobro…

    August 26, 2008
  36. Skip Zimmerman said:

    Authentic Japanese (Sushi) Restaurant (but not one of the chain hibachi ones)
    Office Supply Store
    Upscale Kitchen Supply Store
    Bring back Maria’s!
    What happened to the new sandwich shop at The Crossings?

    August 26, 2008
  37. Jerold Weber said:

    Thanks for thinking of us Patrick, Sweet Peas’ Toys & Treats is a REAL TOY STORE we specialize in more of the Nostalgic toys from years past. We carry lots of wooden toys, games, balls, puzzles, board games, candy, soda pop, & ice cream. Come and check us out, and don’t forget about our toy testing area, where everyone can be a kid!!!

    August 26, 2008
  38. David Ludescher said:

    How about some businesses or services for the business park?

    August 26, 2008
  39. Patrick Enders said:

    I love your selection of non-plastic toys for toddlers! If we had toddlers, I’d buy (more of) them lickety split.

    August 26, 2008
  40. Does anyone know what is going up next to Sears, just north of Menard’s?

    August 26, 2008
  41. I DO know, Bright! Dan Westrum, owner of Cartridge World, is putting in a bouncy party room place to reserve for kids’ parties. Other businesses to come. Name still being decided upon. Jump & Bounce, maybe. Your suggestions on a name??? It will open this fall.

    August 26, 2008
  42. Jane Moline said:

    Hey Susan, it is Dan WENSTROM.

    August 26, 2008
  43. Felicity Enders said:

    Thanks for the tip, Mary!

    Bright, have you checked out the place in the Archer House?

    August 26, 2008
  44. Thanks, Jane. I did not have Dan’s business card at hand. So, would your kids have liked bouncing around on their birthdays? (Maybe they still do.) This place might have been convenient for your family. But no horses allowed on the bouncy bounces, despite their agility.

    August 27, 2008
  45. Patrick Enders said:

    What the world needs is a place where adults can go on the bouncy bounce.

    August 27, 2008
  46. Susan, thanks for the info. I would name it “House of Bounce” or “The House of Bounces” and if I could bring my dog, I’d name it the Howse of BowWows…oops, now I have gone too far! If Don uses my suggestions, he can send the check directly to me.

    August 27, 2008
  47. Edward Smith said:

    What about an indoor playcenter/climber like “The Blast” in Eagan, or “Adventure Park/Edinborough Park” in Edina – for rammy kids on snowy/rainy days?

    August 27, 2008
  48. No, Felicity, I haven’t checked out the place in Archer House for jewelry.

    If any of the shop owners want me to put up a page on my blog for them, listing all the stuff they have, in general, and their pertinent info. I’ll do it
    as a pay it forward gift of the heart supporter type gesture, for free.

    It seems as though not enough people know what is going on in these downtown stores!

    Just email me at

    August 27, 2008
  49. Oh, and put STORE In the subject header so I don’t delete it.

    August 27, 2008
  50. Lahna Tran said:

    A new movie theater with at least 8 screens would be GREAT! I also really miss Bagel Bros…

    August 27, 2008
  51. Anne Bretts said:

    I’d like to know why the enthusiastic young man — a proud Ole — who planned a cinema two years ago suddenly withdrew, when he had so many successful theaters in other towns. He never spoke publicly about it, and it’s a mystery, especially when he had the land and plans in place.

    August 27, 2008
  52. Patrick Enders said:

    Oh, if only Norm would brew his own beer.

    I’d love to try a Cow Pale Ale, or a Pasture Porter.

    August 27, 2008
  53. Patrick & Bruce: How about Jesse James Lager & Cole Younger Porter? We are indeed looking into the feasibility of establishing a small micro-brewery here. Interested in investing (pass the word)?

    August 28, 2008
  54. Norman,
    Throw in a Sasquatch Scottish Ale and I’m in! Seriously, I’d love to talk with anyone interested in developing a local microbrewery. I think a group of local investors would be a distinct possibility.

    I just had a fascinating meeting with a Twin Cities entrepreneur who is developing a biodiesel-production business based on growing algae. One of the hurdles is finding a low-cost source of carbon dioxide to feed the algae. I suggested coupling his venture with a microbrewery on the same site…

    August 28, 2008
  55. Patrick Enders said:

    That’s great news! I hope your plans come together, and I’ll happily partake of the fruits of your labors. If your plans also include turning the Cow into a full-service restaurant, that’d be so much the better.

    Unfortunately, I have two good reasons not to invest in your business:
    1) The only thing I have to offer at the moment is a fairly large debt load, and
    2) Noone in my family has shown any good judgement in investing – least of all me. I wouldn’t want to curse your endeavors with my black mark, and for my sake I’m currently sticking with fairly diversified stuff through my 401k.

    August 28, 2008
  56. A.Ripka said:

    commenting late in the game, but…
    norm – yes, brew beer! great idea. i like the names, too.

    suuuuuushi!: heck yeah! i don’t think i would ever leave town. thai is good, too.

    toys: sweet peas has great old fashioned and modern toys. i see kids walk by the store excited to head into sweet pea, so whoever is looking for toys, you should check it out. and yes – The Sketchy Artist has toys, too! our two stores are pretty different in what we carry as far as toys go, so i’d say it depends on the kids (or parents). but please support what already exists!

    office supplies: i do carry a small selection of office supplies at The Sketchy Artist, but i have been reluctant to expand on it mainly because i’ve watched so many people poo-poo it saying (out loud) that they’d rather go to target and save 25 cents. i’d love to be able to compete with target’s prices, but i dare not order 6 cases of magic tape in order to get a price reduction. well, that is unless i knew 40 people a day would be coming in for tape…
    but i do have the basics, and i am very open to suggestions. plus, what i don’t have i can always order for someone. which brings me to another point. if you don’t see it in northfield, don’t hesitate to have a conversation with store owners. you may be surprised about what they can get. or at least try 😉

    oh, and i love the idea of servicing mac computers. please?? esp with the colleges around. do you know how many students have macs? oh, right – the colleges each have their own computing departments. oh well.

    September 5, 2008
  57. A.Ripka said:

    ps – i LOVE the idea of a trader joes (big fan) but unfortunately i think it would hurt the co-op. sure would be great to have their wine here, though.

    September 5, 2008
  58. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey David L, I see you have a commentary in the Chamber News titled We need many kinds of businesses here, published this week’s Nfld News. (Is it available on the Nfld News or the Chamber’s web site? I couldn’t find it.) You wrote:

    In a recent blog on Locally Grown, Tracy Davis asked readers what kind of businesses they would like to see in Northfield. Almost everyone mentioned his or her personal favorites, such as a Thai restaurant, sushi bar, music store, and other businesses that cater primarily to a lifestyle known on Locally Grown as a bourgeoisie bohemian (bobo) lifestyle. Without diminishing the attractiveness of such bobo businesses, the reality is that Northfield also needs businesses like College City Beverage, Taylor Trucking, Ryt-Way, Malt-O-Meal, and yes, Target and Cub.

    I think it’s pretty understandable that in an informal brainstorming discussion, people would mention retail-type businesses, rather than say, “I think we really need a Seagate disk drive manufacturing plant!” or some such.

    Bruce Anderson did mention both “clean energy technology manufacturing” as well as “biodiesel-production” here in this discussion.  

    Lest your readers get the idea that LoGroNo is only bobo-business-focused, I’d like to remind you that:

    So while we’re bobos on the outside, deep down, we’re much more well-rounded. 😉



    September 11, 2008
  59. Curt Benson said:

    …and Tracy blogged about Upper Lakes Foods, a warehouse operation that moved to Northfield recently.

    September 11, 2008
  60. Peter Millin said:

    Shouldn’t we just try to make Northfield business friendly and let the market speak on the type of business that could come here.

    Businesses will come if the financial and logistic conditions are right and if there is a market for their goods.

    Brain storming about businesses makes everybody feel good, but it doesn’t serve reality.

    September 11, 2008
  61. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Maybe “we” bobos ought to turn ourselves inside out so that that well-rounded is on the outside, and the bobo is way deep down.

    September 11, 2008
  62. Aren’t food, pet, beer and computers bobo businesses?

    September 11, 2008
  63. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: I’m sorry. My answer was flippant. A more complete answer will be forthcoming.

    September 12, 2008
  64. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: I would point out the two different questions Tracy posed: What type of businesses would thrive in Northfield, and what businesses would you like to see in Northfield.

    First, and foremost, there must be a healthy business environment for the businesses that we have here. That is what the Chamber is about – dealing with the businesses that are thriving in Northfield, and working on making them even more thriving.

    Second, as a community, “we” need to get over the idea that what businesses “we would like to see” makes any difference for business growth. As Peter said, businesses come (or thrive) for financial and logistics reasons. So, why do “we” care what all the NIMPU’s want? That is not how business decisions are made. Both Target and Present Perfect decide what Northfield “needs” by what people will buy.

    Right now, the community needs more business property tax income (and jobs, low paying or otherwise) – and not just by raising taxes.

    Griff: I appreciate the attention that you have given to trying to present a balanced view. But a half of a dozen stories over the course of a year is not enough to turn a bobo inside out.

    September 12, 2008
  65. Anne Bretts said:

    It appears site work is being done on the land behind Target, along Jefferson Road. The sidewalk is closed, and grading stakes are popping up like spring flowers. Is this an expansion of the business park across the street or a new project? And there’s a building under construction on the final lot in the existing park. That’s really good news.
    IMHO, it’s great for the city to make longer term plans near the hospital, but it is vital to develop the infill sites already available around town.

    September 13, 2008
  66. Griff Wigley said:

    Anne, I asked a surveyor on Friday. Jasnoch Construction is building another apartment building there… with storm water retention ponds.

    September 14, 2008
  67. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Anne – Tracy can probably say more as a member of the Planning Commission, but the Jasnoch’s PUD (Planned Unit Development) was approved by the Council a week or so ago. The development planned as a mixed use development with future retail and commercial along Jefferson Road and the apartment complex now being built along Heritage Drive.

    I agree with Anne about infill and this site has long been talked about as “mixed use” but various attempts to define a mixed use zoning district have failed. Now, with a new Comp Plan and land development regualtions on the horizon, it appears we’re making progress.

    This development, according to the staff reports (see the Council packet for 8/25 has been designed to comply with or incorporate the form-based features of the new Comprehensive Plan with an emphasis on the relation of the building to the street, sidewalks and other pedestrian amenities, etc. I’m excited about seeing what develops, so to speak.

    September 15, 2008
  68. Anne Bretts said:

    Thanks for the details, Griff and Felicity. When you look at the spaces available in town, there are lots of possibilities for small business start-ups. Some need remodeling, others need redevelopment, others are empty lots. Wouldn’t it be great to have a ‘to-do’ list, then have everyone in the city and business leadership focusing on getting them done. Working through the list certainly builds momentum and creates a positive attitude.
    The harder part is going to be finding those larger spaces David L. and Ray Cox note are needed for distribution centers and light industry. And maybe the business park is the way to handle that. But getting a little practice can’t hurt.

    September 15, 2008

Leave a Reply