SubText Books is moving from its subterranean digs in St. Paul's Cathedral Hill neighborhood to a historic building in downtown St. Paul.
Owner Sue Zumberge said she is simply jumping at the chance to move her store "above ground."
"This is pretty much an experiment," she said of the move from the basement of Nina's Coffee Cafe to the St. Paul Building at the corner of 5th Street and Wabasha. "Some say 'Have you lost your mind?' Others say, 'Good for you.' "
SubText is moving to the ground level of the St. Paul Building in space that once housed Anchor Bank. Zumberge said SubText will move out of the Blair Arcade at the end of May and should be open in its new space by mid-June.
"Businesses are trying to make that part of downtown an arts and entertainment area. It's going to be an identity," Zumberge said of an area that is within walking distance of the Ordway, the soon-to-be-renovated Palace Theater and the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, which will be next door. "We are just a small part of this. It will be fun."
Zumberge said she is "getting a great deal" on rent. Nina's had subsidized SubText for a couple of years, but that arrangement ended. About eight months ago, SubText conducted an online fundraising campaign that raised more than $14,000 to help it secure financial independence.
It's not like SubText is leaving a drowsy part of St. Paul. The corner of Selby Avenue and Western Avenue is home to W.A. Frost, Nina's, Moscow on the Hill and the new Red Cow and Salt Cellar restaurants. But Zumberge said the store has struggled to be seen in the below-street-level space over its three years there.
She said she hopes moving to a building on the National Register of Historic Places, with skyway access, nearby parking ramps and free on-street parking at night and on weekends, will boost SubText's profile. It will be downtown's only full-service independent bookstore.
"I would love to stay," she said, praising Nina's for its help paying the rent over the years. "But I have an opportunity to get above ground. And I have to do that."