Following the 2008 financial crash, the 50th and Xerxes corner found itself on a sudden downward spiral, with several businesses closing. Five years later, business at the intersection has revived and owners are exploring pitching the corner as a regional destination, in the mold of nearby 50th and France.
Before the Great Recession, 50th and Xerxes was known throughout the Twin Cities as the go-to place for antiquing. Its numerous vintage retailers drew shoppers from across the region, so much that business owners actually put a big sign on the corner of the building that now houses Loft Antiques declaring the area “Antique Corners.”
"We've seen it evolve. The corner had really vibrant times in there," Gallery 360 owner Merry Beck told Patch. "9/11 and the last recession really shook things up."
Several shops closed, leaving holes in the fabric of storefronts. One by one, though, the storefronts began to fill up again. This time, though, the corner reemerged with a more diverse mix of businesses that are building valuable links with each other.
"We're happy to have a full house again," Beck said. "Woody's Pet Deli is great for us. His repeat customers are coming to this corner all the time because they're passionate about what they feed their pets."
Decades-old neighborhood stalwarts like All J's Tire Center and Michael's Lamp Studio have also helped draw more customers into neighborhood shops from other parts of the city, Beck said.
New Clientele, More Diversity
Even the antique stores that survived the corner's downturn and those that have sprung up in recent years have changed a bit, broadening their audience beyond antiques collectors to average shoppers looking to decorate their homes with classic items.
"If you go to Pottery Barn and other shops like that, they're copying vintage looks," said Carla Domisch, an dealer at Loft Antiques . "Why not go to the actual vintage shop and get something cheaper that's actually vintage?"
The latest edition to this stable of shops—including Loft, The Vintage Studio ,Hunt & Gather , and 75% Salvaged —is vintage store Piccadilly Prairie . Owner Lacey Brooker started the business as an occasional store, open one long weekend every month, and expanded her hours and offerings when she found her shop quickly becoming more and more popular. In January, Brooker decided she was successful enough to be open every day of the week.
Building a regular customer base with themed events like this month's Pintrest Bride wedding sale has been important, she said. Being able to draw in pedestrians leaving neighboring business gave her exposure to many people who might not have otherwise discovered the store.
"We get great foot traffic—I'm sandwiched between a chiropractor and a laundromat, and there's a coffee shop right there, too," Brooker said.
Looking to the Future
As the heart of the Fulton neighborhood returns to beating at full strength, business owners and neighborhood leaders are looking to the future, too. Working with the local Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association (NEHBA), the corner is exploring how to raise the profile of 50th and Xerxes, to put it closer to nearby 50th and France.
While planning is still in its very early stages, sidewalk improvements could also be in the offing to make the corner more pedestrian-friendly, said Steve Young, a former Fulton Neighborhood Association President who helped initiate the efforts.
NEHBA is also exploring different "placemaking" initiatives along West 50th Street including the 50th and Xerxes and 50th and Bryant corners to bring in more visitors from outside the immediate neighborhood, said the organization's president, Matt Perry. Perry is also running for the Ward 13 city council seat vacated by mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges.
"When people say 'Linden Hills,' they have a sense of that place in Linden Hills and outside of Linden Hills," Perry said. "People who are not familiar with that area may not be able to list four businesses at 43rd and Upton, but they have a sense of what's compelling about wanting to be there. It's a destination for them to go to."