Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
CP: My first Minneapolis apartment was not far from the Kmart that killed Nicollet Avenue S. I still have spoons, a spatula and a dusty bottle of English Leather I purchased at this store. That was in 1981, however, and the place has hardly changed.
RN: Certainly not here in the fragrance aisle, which is where Charlie, Wind Song and British Sterling have been spending their retirement years. I’m fairly certain that we’re looking at the store’s original 1978 linoleum floor tiles. In what I’m hoping is a conscious nod to the Carter/energy crisis era, it feels like it’s about 56 degrees in here.
CP: It may be cold, but these deals are hot. You can get in a pair of Adam Levine jeans for $24.99. Let’s not beat around the bush, however. I sense you have a civics lesson in mind about this store and its place in our treasured urban landscape.
RN: Actually, having not set foot in a Kmart in over a decade, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’d shop here. The people seem nice, it’s clean, and look: Nordic Ware pans! DieHard car batteries! Dickies apparel! An 88-piece Valentine’s Day Whitman’s Sampler for $15.99! Still, I despise this particular Kmart’s location.
CP: I guess it does kinda block off a major city thoroughfare.
RN: Driving north on Nicollet, toward the store’s concrete-block edifice, I’m reminded of how the Avenue de l’Opera terminates in the magnificent Palais Garnier in Paris. Not.
CP: They should just split the extremely bland building in two and plow the buses and cars — and maybe a new streetcar — right down this aisle with the Jaclyn Smith comforters. The world of bedding design would not suffer.
RN: When Nicollet was closed in the late 1970s, City Hall types believed it was the only option for drawing investment to an urban renewal project, a decision endorsed by the editorial pages of our employer.
CP: Oddly, Nicollet’s Eat Street is very lively to the north, and there are signs of activity farther south, but the blocks closest to Kmart remain eyesore-ish.
RN: That’s because the area takes its design cues from the store’s hideous and unnecessarily vast parking lot. Thank goodness that Lisa Bender, the neighborhood’s new City Council member, has said that her top priority is unblocking Nicollet.
CP: Let it flow, Lisa.
RN: Perhaps Kmart could use the opportunity to create its own version of CityTarget — that’s Tarzhay’s smaller-footprint urban concept — on the reconfigured site. They could call it Blue Lite.
Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib