A head shop that sells synthetic drugs in downtown Duluth continues to give city officials and neighboring businesses a headache.
The problems from the Last Place on Earth storefront have spread across downtown, even after the owner was ordered by a court earlier this year to pay for two police officers to watch his store. The Duluth News Tribune reported that the extra security has helped around the store but that is has pushed disturbances like smoking illegal drugs, panhandling and public urination to other places all over town.
“It’s dispersed the problem,” said Mark Fredrickson, who co-owns neighboring ShelDon Printing & Imaging and estimates he’s lost a lot of walk-up business from people who don’t want to get near Last Place customers. “Now it’s all over town.”
Community police officer Eric Rish, who oversees the extra police staffing at the store, said calls to the neighboring areas have increased.
From police raids to lawsuits, Last Place on Earth and owner Jim Carlson have been in the news — and a major pain for the city — for years. The store sells synthetic marijuana and other substances that mimic the effects of illegal drugs. Carlson and two other store employees were charged with mislabeling some of those drugs in December.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness has been pushing to have the store declared a public nuisance and closed. In his State of the City address earlier this month, he called the store a top problem he wants to fix.
Carlson said he thinks the police presence is too much and wondered why he should have to pay for problems blocks away from his store.
“Carlson makes millions and expects the small business down the street to deal with the negative impacts from his business. That’s not right,” the mayor said.
“Business is the same as always,” Carlson said on Monday. “Insane.”