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Downtown Pop Ups Push Local Business in Duluth

Updated: 12/03/2013 3:50 PM
Created: 11/30/2013 3:43 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Pop up stores in downtown Duluth were ready to take advantage of Small Business Saturday with unique takes on keeping business local.

Small businesses have dotted Superior Street for years, but this holiday season a dozen more popped up. The Greater Downtown Council helped some small businesses get rent-free storefronts for a few months.

That brought Chelsea Pusc down from Grand Marais with her famous fudge.

“I get a lot of tourist business, obviously in Grand Marais it's mostly tourist business, but a lot of the locals know my fudge is the best,” Pusc said.

She said her store, Gunflint Mercantile, is doing business online.

“I shipped about 50 pounds of maple bacon fudge a couple weeks ago,” Pusc said.

But she said the chance to reach Duluth's bigger market is an exciting opportunity. Pusc makes the fudge and aprons, but other Grand Marais residents fill out the store with their skilled creations. She said the business model is a perfect fit for Small Business Saturday.

“It keeps the money in your community. You're spending the money on locally made products,” Pusc said.

But another Minnesota business and Duluth pop up said small businesses can do more to heal the economy.

“I think we've lost a lot of our luster in being an American manufacturing powerhouse and we lost a lot of skills and a lot of jobs because of that,” Kevin Groenjes said.

To fix that Groenjes started WOODCHUCKcase with a team of young partners. He said the customizable cases the company produces for electronics are crafted in Minneapolis and the sustainable veneer is sourced from within the United States.

“It's a different marriage, you know, you got the technology on one side and the nature, which is kind of a dichotomy, and then when you look at the product pair with the electronic it's kind of a beautiful mix,” Groenjes said.

To bring that appreciation full circle WOODCHUCK works with a non-profit to get kids off their electronics to experience the outdoors. Groenjes said small businesses can make an impact on the community, but they need local support.

“So people are starting to meet with their business owners. They're starting to meet with these customers, and it's forming a tighter knit bond in the community itself,” Groenjes said.

Small Business Saturday may be over, but the stores will be open through the new year. Click here to find a list of the other 10 pop up businesses approved by the Greater Downtown Council.

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