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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

Two Twin Cities wine stores to close in Total Wine's backyard

When Total Wine began opening stores in the Twin Cities in 2014, many predicted the competition would dwindle as they faced the low-priced behemoth.

Maybe it's too soon to see the fallout, but the predictions haven't come true yet. Only a handful of closings have ocurred. Century Liquor announced its closing in 2015 the day after Total Wine announced it would open a new store in Chanhassen (which opened in 2016).

Customers of Century Liquor received this email:  “Last night, the Chanhassen City Council has passed the eighth liquor license within the city limits. With this new development, the owners of Century Wine & Spirits have made the very difficult decision to close the store. After all, there is only so much of the pie that can be truly divided up between all the liquor stores in Chanhassen. Thus, the owners feel they can no longer run a viable business in the future.”

Representatives at Haskell's in Burnsville had a similar story when it closed in early 2015. Haskell's franchisee Jay Nelson told the Sun This Week newspaper at the time that the city of Burnsville was allowing too many liquor licenses (five), making competition fierce.

The latest to close include Cost Plus World Market wine shops in Bloomington and Maple Grove. Both are currently selling everything at 50 percent off and are expected to shut down soon due to limited selection. A staff person in World Market in Bloomington said Monday that business was tough in a spot where they shared the same parking lot as Total Wine. It appears the closer a wine shop or liquor store is to Total Wine the more vulnerable it is.

Chemically sensitive consumers losing Mpls. store that catered to them

Natural Built Home in south Minneapolis (4020 Minnehaha Av., Minneapolis, 612-605-7999) is changing its focus from retail to remodeling. A close-out sale is in progress on various products.

The store is known as one of the few places in the Twin Cities that sold products for chemically sensitive people including paint and cleaners. They also offer eco-friendly items such as cabinets, countertops, flooring, tile and plumbing fixtures, which are not part of the sale going on now.

The company is not closing but downsizing and re-focusing on eco-friendly design-build-remodel services. The eco-friendly building materials will still be displayed and sold. The salvage room will also remain.

All of the paints (Colorhouse, Safecoat, Mythic brands), stains, cleaners, clay, and cutting boards are discounted 50% thru Jan. 31. From Feb. 1-14, everything will be 60% off and from Feb.15-28 70% off. Everything left March 1 will be donated to local charities.

Loren Schirber, co-owner of the business for three years, said that change was necessary. "It's hard to be a retailer and a remodeler and be good at both," he said. Part of the reason that the retail side is going away is showrooming--people scoping out the brands and then buying them for less online--but mostly it was the time- intensive nature of selling chemically sensitive products

"Paints, stains, and cleaners made up 20% of our sales but took up a lot more of our space and staff's time," Schriber said. He has tried to find another local retailer to take on the product lines so far without success. "We are open to selling our entire inventory below cost and would provide training to another vendor," he said.

The store is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wed-Fri and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. It will continue to provide eco-friendly design-build- and remodeling services for cabinets, countertops, flooring and tile.