Some may have been surprised to hear sisters and shop co-owners Megan and Mikaela Harrod chose to relocate their Linden Hills boutique to Uptown. But as soon as they toured a vacant space on Lake Street, they knew it was the right move for Les Sól 2.0. “Our location proved to be a bit tricky for foot traffic” says Megan Harrod of the first iteration of their women’s fashion and lifestyle concept.
You may be thinking, “Higher foot traffic…in Uptown?” While the neighborhood’s core, the once-bustling Lake and Hennepin, has proven to be a bit challenging for the nationals (with Apple, CB2, Urban Outfitters, and more contributing to the recent retail exodus), locals are investing in a different pocket on the edge of Bde Maka Ska. “We were very clear that if we chose to move to Uptown, this would be the neighborhood,” says Harrod.
While the sisters are still settling in, they already report an increase in traffic and are constantly receiving positive feedback from those customers indulging in retail therapy after Barbette or Brim brunch, Amore Uptown dinner, or a Spot Spa facial. “We were energized by the idea of being a part of helping rebuild a little retail hub,” says Harrod of the surrounding businesses.
Harrod is especially excited about retail veteran Mike Pickart’s Combine (pictured above) being directly across the street. And now, Ruby Stinson (daughter to Daune Stinson of June Resale fame) has relocated her vintage store, Legacy, from its Lyndale location to a bigger and better space directly next door to Les Sól. “The new stores will really do well here,” says Pickart. “We’re here to support each other and create a new shopping destination within Uptown.”
Amid all the civil unrest that hit the neighborhood and as shops shuttered, Pickart continued to hold down the fort at his men’s, women’s, and home décor enclave. “Not going to lie, there were some tough months owning and operating a space here,” says Pickart, who has been running and managing fashion boutiques, including Intoto, since the ’80s. But his fierce love for the area was unwavering, and he now happily reports he’s glad to have stuck it out. “I’m seeing a resurgence happening—and a faith being restored.”
Right now, business at Combine is stronger than ever. And while the bulk of his customers remain the women who live around the surrounding lakes (plus avid Bde Maka Ska walkers), both he and Harrod see an uptick in traffic from residents of the surrounding new apartment complexes. “It’s a nice mix of people, from St. Paul to the west suburbs,” he says. “But it certainly is great to see people are investing and moving to the area.”
A concern for safety lingers, and Pickart counts his lucky stars for his 25-spot parking lot located in the back of his store, but the retailers report that collaboration is especially strong and vital as the whole neighborhood has pulled together in a way in the last year that has helped make it feel better—and safer. “For instance, if something happens or is reported, neighbors are on it and willing to help,” says Pickart. “There’s this constant communication, and it’s brought the community closer together. Once you take that power back—to take care of your stores, your neighbors, etc.— the whole community feels empowered.”
The consensus among the business owners, from shopkeepers to restaurant owners, on West Lake Street? People are back, excited to shop, eat, drink, and play. “We love that we can join forces with several locally owned small businesses (versus big-box retailers) and make
an impact, hopefully, in rebuilding the area,” says Harrod. Pickart continues, “This is Uptown now. Things are turning around, and we can’t wait to see it grow and thrive.”