High-end men's clothing shop Heime's Haberdashery soon will be stocking up on white and blue dress shirts, ties and dress shoes. It's not because the St. Paul, Minn. store is having a sale. It's because the Republicans are coming.
Aside from beefing up its inventory during the Republican National Convention in September, Heime's Haberdashery will be keeping the business fully staffed, bringing in a third barber for its in-house barbershop and expanding its business hours — even opening on a Sunday, when it's normally closed. The store is a stone's throw from the St. Paul RiverCentre/Xcel Energy Center complex, the main site for the convention.
“It's an absolutely great opportunity for us,” says Anthony Andler, owner of Heime's Haberdashery. Before, during and after the Sept. 1-4 convention, Heime's Haberdashery and other retailers throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area will be seizing the opportunity to sell goods and services to the estimated 45,000 attendees. The convention is projected to create an economic impact of at least $150 million, including an extra $7 million for retail (excluding food and beverages).
In St. Paul, city leaders are emphasizing that stores will be open for business, despite the convention hassles and hoopla. In other cities that have hosted political conventions, some retailers have shut down during the activities. “That is not what we want to happen,” says Natalie Fedie, a spokeswoman for the city of St. Paul's planning and economic development agency. “Most of the planning thus far has been related to security, but we will begin working more with our local retailers as it gets closer to the convention.”
Planning is well under way at the Mall of America in suburban Bloomington, the country's largest shopping center. The 4.2-million-square-foot mall will serve as one of three media centers for the convention — a built-in clientele for the more than 500 stores and 50 eateries. The mall is five minutes south of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and about 15 minutes from the Twin Cities' downtown areas. Beyond the media folks, the mall anticipates a “considerable jump” in traffic during the GOP gathering, says Dan Jasper, director of public relations. The Mall of America will blitz Minneapolis-St. Paul hotels with promotional materials to attract convention-goers; many area hotels offer shuttles to the mall.
Other shopping areas that should be hopping during the convention include the Galleria in suburban Edina, Grand Avenue in St. Paul and 50th & France, which straddles Minneapolis and Edina.
Hundreds of Minnesota businesses, including scores of retailers, are offering 20 percent discounts or special deals for holders of the More to Minnesota GOParty Card. The card, spearheaded by the convention's local host committee, will be valid Aug. 23-Sept. 7; it's a means of enticing convention-goers to spend more time — and money — in the state. One bonus for visitors: The state doesn't tax clothing purchases.
St. Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman says the convention presents “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to showcase the Twin Cities. “This opportunity is not about politics — it is about business,” he says.