Pohlad Cos. plans to sell Minneapolis jeweler JB Hudson to Gunderson's Jewelers of Iowa, a changing of hands at an unsettled time for one of downtown's oldest and most recognizable retailers.
Gunderson's is a family-owned jewelry retailer based in Sioux City. It also operates stores in Omaha, Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D.
The sale comes as downtown businesses are reeling from lack of foot traffic, as office workers stayed home to curb the spread of the coronavirus and protesters flooded the streets following the death of George Floyd.
Chief Executive Brian Gunderson said he has no immediate plans to change the JB Hudson name or to move the store from its location at 9th Street and Nicollet Mall. But he acknowledged the current strains on Minneapolis' central shopping district, and didn't discount future changes.
"We'll make some determination [on the location] once we get everything closed, and get in there and get our hands dirty, and see what makes sense," said Gunderson, whose grandfather was a watchmaker who opened a storefront in 1945. "There's plenty of opportunities in the metro area there. We're also waiting to see how everything unfolds in downtown."
Gunderson said he also didn't expect any changes at the Loupe, a JB Hudson brand located inside the Martin Patrick 3 store in Minneapolis' downtown North Loop area.
The deal is expected to close March 31. Terms were not disclosed.
The privately held Pohlad Cos., which also owns the Twins and a wide range of companies in other industries, has owned JB Hudson since 2007.
It paid $6 million for a majority stake to James R. Cargill, who had bought the jewelry store out of bankruptcy in 1992.
The Pohlad Cos., now run by the three sons of founder Carl Pohlad, declined requests for an interview.
In a statement, the company noted similarities in the culture and commitment to craftsmanship.
"Following this sale, Gunderson's will build on JB Hudson's strong legacy," said Ben Hawn, Pohlad Cos. chief of staff. "Customers in this market will continue to enjoy exceptional workmanship in jewelry manufacturing and repair and will benefit from an expanded assortment of fine gifts, jewelry and watch brands."
JB Hudson has had a presence in downtown Minneapolis since 1885, when Josiah B. Hudson opened a storefront at 230 Nicollet Av. Fire destroyed the building and Hudson relocated to 33 S. 7th Street.
The Dayton Co. purchased the retailer in 1929 and moved it to the ground floor of its department store on 8th and Nicollet.
The jeweler has been at its current location at the corner of 9th and Nicollet Mall since 2008.
JB Hudson operated another location at Ridgedale Center for more than 40 years, but closed it in 2014.
Gunderson said he was approached by the Pohlad family, and the workings of a deal unfolded over a coffee meeting in October. He said both JB Hudson and Gunderson's stores will benefit from new lines and sharing of expertise that includes custom-designed jewelry.
"We have admired JB Hudson for years and are very excited about the opportunity to bring Gunderson's to the Twin Cities," he said.
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335