JB Hudson Jewelers, a destination for the affluent and aspiring in downtown Minneapolis for 136 years, will close at the end of the year.
Its employees and what's left of its inventory after a moving-out sale will move to a new store being developed in Wayzata by Gunderson's Jewelers, the family-owned retailer from Iowa that bought JB Hudson earlier this year.
The downtown store, located on the corner of 9th Street and Nicollet Mall in the Young-Quinlan Building, will cease operations on Dec. 31. The moving-out sale will begin later this month, said Breanne Demers, president of Gunderson's.
The expected opening date for the new store — under the Gunderson's brand name — at 300 Superior Blvd. in Wayzata is early February, Demers said.
Demers said the JB Hudson name "is not going away." Gunderson's, which also operates stores in Omaha, Fargo and Sioux Falls, is actively searching the Twin Cities for a possible location to launch a rebrand of JB Hudson.
"The door is still open for downtown," she said.
Toward the middle and end of 2022, Gunderson's could announce details of a new JB Hudson location in the metro, Demers said.
Pohlad Cos., which also owns the Minnesota Twins, sold JB Hudson to Gunderson's Jewelers earlier this year. Pohlad Cos. had owned JB Hudson since 2007.
JB Hudson has had a presence in downtown Minneapolis since 1885, when Josiah B. Hudson opened a storefront at 230 Nicollet Av. The jeweler has been at its current location on Nicollet Mall since 2008. For decades, it was a presence in the flagship Dayton's department store and had a distinctive entrance at 8th and Nicollet.
Dwindling foot traffic downtown played a factor in the decision to close the store, Demers said. The lack of workers downtown due to companies working remotely because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected several businesses downtown.
"Without a doubt, the lack of a 9 to 6 workforce has had an impact on retail and restaurant vitality and viability downtown," said Steve Cramer, president and chief executive of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. "A lot of buying power just disappeared."
The vacancy of JB Hudson does, however, create an opportunity to add a new business todowntown Minneapolis, one directly across from the downtown Target store.
"It's disappointing," Cramer said. "JB Hudson has been there a long time. It's happening, so we move forward. The opportunity is to use that space in a really exciting new way because of the uniqueness of this building and the key location right in the heart of downtown."
The Downtown Council is also a tenant of the Young-Quinlan Building.
The council has already begun conversations with the owners of the building about possible uses of the vacant space until a more permanent tenant is signed, Cramer said. An interim solution could come through Chameleon Shoppes, a retail initiative of the council that transforms empty retail space into opportunities for minority-owned businesses.
A business that activates the corner of 9th and Nicollet and "livens the street level" while maintaining some level of retail, would be ideal, Cramer said.
The moving-out sale at JB Hudson will last through the remainder of 2021. The store has about $25 million worth of jewelry to clear out, Demers said.