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No Subway and Starbucks?
No other Minnesota city, though, has gone as far as to limit franchises, which Excelsior leaders are also exploring to preserve the historic, small-town character that they say is what attracts tourists.
The first-of-its-kind ordinance in the state would restrict so-called formula businesses from the quaint downtown district. But how to define that is still up for debate.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” Luger said. “We want to tread really carefully on that.”
City leaders say they favor independently owned businesses like Dunn Bros Coffee, but don’t want national chains like Subway making it look like other suburbs. In 2003, the local chamber of commerce caused a stir over an ad campaign that targeted chains like Starbucks and Home Depot, promoting Excelsior as a place for small, local businesses.
National chains like McDonald’s are already there, but not on its main street. Since no Minnesota cities have this law, Excelsior is looking to coastal cities for inspiration.
“People like to come to Excelsior to dine and shop because it’s not a mall,” said Bill Damberg, president of the local chamber and owner of Brightwater, a clothing store on Water Street. “That historic district is worth saving.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141