The announcement that Macy’s is leaving downtown St. Paul comes as no surprise to anyone. Have you been there lately? The last couple of times I hit it up, it was like a ghost town. Employees and service? Not sure where they were. I never found anything I wanted or was looking for. But it doesn’t make it any less sad for me to hear it. As a kid, on weekends, my mom, Grandma, and I would often drive “downtown” and park underground (why did this feel exotic to me? I’m not sure), then come up through the elevator, right into the lobby where the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies were waiting. Oh man, that smell. Grandma always bought me one. We would spend the afternoon shopping—this dates me, but I would gaze longingly at Multiples and Esprit bags—and we’d have lunch in the River Room, starting with those big-as-your-head popovers. Oh, that felt so elegant and refined! (PS: I eventually got an Esprit bag from Grandma, in navy blue—naturally, so much more refined than those garish late-80s hot colors, and she sewed my initials in the inside.)
So, there will be people mourning its demise, even if it has been just a shadow of its former self for years. I hope desperately that the city can come up with a great alternative to fill that space. As a former downtown St. Paul resident, I watched it grow and grow with nightlife and retail, and I have high hopes that it will continue that trajectory for years to come.
At the same time, we hear that Ridgedale will indeed be getting their Nordstrom—in 2015. It won’t do anything to soothe St. Paul hearts, but it still is a boost for the retail landscape. Consider it a vote of confidence. We can use as many of those as we can get!