Biz buzz: Booksmart moving in with Cheapo

Booksmart moving into lower level of Cheapo Records

THE WEDGE — Booksmart, 2914 Hennepin Ave. S., in East Isles will soon open in the lower level of the Cheapo Records building, 1300 W. Lake St. in the Wedge.

To prepare for the cohabitation, Cheapo is already in the process of moving its expansive collection of vinyl records upstairs, where it will now share floorspace with the store’s CDs and DVDs.

Booksmart owner Lee Rudrud said his lease at the prime two-floor Hennepin Avenue property recently expired, and Booksmart was asked to pay more if it wanted to stay.

“I suppose rent was just a little too much here, and I just couldn’t justify it with the product I’m selling,” he said, adding that Booksmart’s new one-floor space has “pretty much” the same square footage as the Hennepin property.

Neill Olson, Cheapo store director, cited a similar motivation for consolidating Cheapo from two floors to one.

“As the years go by, a record store this size maybe can’t sustain itself. Now, we can focus more on things besides just having the biggest space, like having the best store,” he said.

Although moving Cheapo’s record collection upstairs remains a work in progress, Olson said he’s already noticed that having vinyl on the main floor has encouraged some customers who wouldn’t normally have ventured downstairs to consider buying a record or two.

“People that traditionally don’t buy LPs are getting sucked in over there,” Olson said of Cheapo’s new upstairs record section. “So bringing the vinyl upstairs might grab the attention of consumers that usually wouldn’t go downstairs.”

Rudrud said that the move doesn’t mean he’ll be tinkering with Booksmart’s business model. The store will continue to sell new books and buy and sell used books.

And while it’s tough packing up and moving after more than a decade on Hennepin, Rudrud said there are silver linings. For one, customers will now have an easier time getting to his store, as Booksmart and Cheapo will share the surface parking lot along Lagoon Avenue.

Second, cheaper rent will help ensure that Booksmart remains in business and in Uptown for the foreseeable future.

“It’s great to be able to stay in the Uptown area, because this place deserves stores like this,” Rudrud said.

Booksmart’s move a couple blocks down Lake Street begs the question — what’s next for the commercial space at 2914 Hennepin?

Mike Finkelstein, property manager for 2914 Hennepin, said he expected a lease to be completed early this month, but wouldn’t comment on specifics until the deal is done.

———

Motorcycle gear store emphasizes fashion, European brands

LYNDALE — Fabrice Piard is trying to bring some of Europe’s urban motorcycling culture to Southwest.

Piard — a 15-year resident of the Twin Cities who was born in France, worked as a motorcycle courier in Paris, lived for years in Vietnam and once took a motorcycle trip to Nicaragua from Minneapolis — is the owner of Moto & Co., 515 W. Lake St.

One block away from Lake & Lyndale, Moto & Co. is a motorcycle gear and clothing store focused on products from European brands like Segura (France), Barbour (UK), Stylmartin (Italy) and Schuberth (Germany).

Piard said that while his store is geared toward “people who are going to want to commute in style on their motorbike,” many of the brands he sells are somewhat like North Face — designed to be worn during specific activities, but fashionable enough to wear casually.

Moto & Co. doesn’t sell bike parts or do repairs. Instead, Piard’s store aims to be the first in the Twin Cities exclusively devoted to motorcycle accessories and fashion.

Piard said opening a motorcycle store of some sort has been a lifelong dream. And with rising gas prices encouraging people to reconsider how much they drive, he believes sporty, European-style motorbikes will be increasingly used to get folks to work and back home again.

“I think there is a need for a store like this. Right now motorbikes are still viewed more recreationally, but with gas prices rising that’s going to change and more and more they’ll be used as a mode of transportation,” he said with a French accent suggestive of his roots.

A grand opening celebration is tentatively planned for sometime later this month.

For more information about Moto & Co., check out the store’s website at motoandco.com.

———

New deli moving into former Auriga space

LOWRY HILL — A handful of years after Auriga closed, the restaurant space at 1930 Hennepin Ave. S. is being converted into a unique Montreal-style deli.

The as-of-yet-unnamed deli is the product of a partnership between restaurant consultant Tobie Nidetz and real estate attorney David Weinstein.

Weinstein, who has ample experience providing legal counsel to restaurants, is a Lowry Hill resident.

“It’s a shame for the neighborhood that the building has been vacant for so long,” Weinstein said. “A good, fun, casual deli is something both the neighborhood and city as a whole could really use.”

In addition to offering Montreal-style cuts of smoked meat — smoked meat is a cross between corned beef and pastrami — Nidetz and Weinstein plan to include chopped liver, bagels and soup on the menu, among other items.

But the twist is that Nidetz and Weinstein plan to offer the full gamut of drinks — espressos, beers and cocktails.

“The one strange thing about the project is our full bar and full liquor license,” Nidetz said.

The restaurantuers don’t plan to “go after the young after midnight crowd,” as Nidetz put it, but do envision happy hour specials and “interesting deli-orientated bar food.”

Weinstein said he and Nidetz are planning to keep the exterior of the old Auriga building largely intact — they may not even need to repaint the building — but are in the early stages of completely renovating the interior.

Though 1930 Hennepin is just a block away from the bustling Franklin & Hennepin intersection, the Hennepin Avenue median makes the building surprising difficult to access via automobile.

But Weinstein — who is in the process of completing a deal to purchase the building — downplayed accessibility concerns.

“One of the benefits of the site is that is actually has about 14 parking spots and a nice amount of off-street parking,” he said. “With plenty of pedestrian accessibility and bike parking, there should be plenty of access for the type of neighborhood we’re in.”

Nidetz and Weinstein hope to get their deli up and running by Labor Day.

———

Locus Architecture returns to Southwest

EAST HARRIET — After a decade at the Northrup King Building in Northeast, Locus Architecture is coming home to Southwest.

Locus — a firm that emphasizes the use of local building materials, sustainable technologies and resource efficient techniques — is now headquartered at the corner of 40th & Lyndale.

Founded in 1995, Locus’ first project was the angular, wood-sided home of principal and co-founder Paul Neseth on the 3600 block of Dupont Ave. S. Neseth’s home doubled as Locus’ office until the firm moved to 24th & Hennepin in 1997. After a handful of years at 24th & Hennepin the firm relocated to Northrup King.

On the firm’s blog, Neseth wrote that Locus was “sad to leave” Northrup King, but excited to have a storefront again. In an interview, Neseth added that on a personal level, moving Locus’ headquarters back to Southwest will make life easier because of the shorter commute and closer proximity to his teenage kids.

Neseth and his two partners have established niches in the realm of residential architecture and the design of religious buildings.

For instance, Locus’ design for the Unitarian Universalist church in White Bear Lake won awards from both the Minnesota and national chapters of the American Institute of Architects. The design makes extensive use of Douglas Fir wood grain, incorporates large glass windows and aims to maximize the sound quality of the acoustic musical groups that perform at the church.

Although the dual emphasis on residential and religious design might initially seem strange, Neseth said the combination actually makes quite a bit of sense.

“They seem like two completely different things, but both (home owners and church leaders) are very passionate that their space ends up being unique to who they are and meaningful,” he said.

“It’s very different than retail design, where businesses are looking at a five to 10 year lifecycle on their space. With homes and churches you’re in it for the long haul, because they expect to be there a long time.”

Locus distinguishes itself by the “green features” included in its projects, including active and passive solar and use of reclaimed wood.

Regarding Locus’ environmental focus, Neseth said “we’ve done a laundry list of stuff on different projects, but we never employ the same procedure because the conditions and clients are unique.”

To celebrate both their move and the Open Streets Minneapolis bike extravaganza, Locus will be hosting an open house at their new home June 12 from
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about the firm, visit locusarchitecture.com.

———

New hot yoga studio opens near Lake Calhoun

WEST CALHOUN — Moksha Yoga Minneapolis, a new hot yoga studio, has opened in the Calhoun Village shopping center.

Studio owners Phil and Ryann Doucette, natives of Canada, have a 6,000-square foot space designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The furniture is made with reclaimed wood, gorgeous plants take center stage and students are encouraged to bring water bottles. They won’t sell bottled water; instead they offer compostible cups.

The hot studio features corkboard flooring and a radiant heating system, which heats objects and is more energy efficient than forced-air heating.

Jess Robertson and Ted Grand, also of Canada, co-founded Moksha Yoga. The style involves a sequence of 40 postures done in a 105-degree room. For more details, visit mokshayogampls.com.

———

Noted

Calhoun Fusion has also opened in Calhoun Village. It’s a nutrition and wellness club that provides people with healthy smoothies, meals and snacks. For more information, go to calhounfusion.com.

Puff N’ Stuff Gifts and Novelty is now open at 818 W. Lake St. For information, go to puffnstuffgifts.com.

Pazzobello Flowers has moved from 1910 Hennepin Ave. S. in Lowry Hill to
509 1/2 1st Ave. NE.

— Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report.