Amore Coffee has been told to clear out of Milton Mall, 917 Grand Ave. in St. Paul by March 31 – to make room for Anthropologie, according to Amore co-owner Nancy Breymeier, who has been speaking directly to the Anthropologie folks. Exeter Realty, which owns Milton Mall, will neither confirm or deny, telling me in an email they have “no comment at this time.”
Breymeier and co-owner Cathy Hauser aren’t waiting for permission to speak out, rather, they’re launching a public protest. They posted this message on the Amore website: “Help us try to stay…We have been on Grand for 18 years! Let (Anthropologie) know that you value independent, caring community shops and want Amore to continue to serve our neighborhood. Until then, please visit us often … and thanks.”
It’s tough to see a longstanding local business like Amore get pushed out. Breymeier and Hauser have been tireless advocates for shopping local. (They will keep their other Amore location, at 879 Smith Ave., West St. Paul). At the same time, it’s all about balance. The Grand Avenue neighborhood has fought against chains repeatedly, and, from North Face to Chipotle to Patagonia, they’ve lost the battles. But I don’t think they’ve lost the charm or the cache of Grand Avenue as a shopping destination – and the questioning of each and every chain has prompted high standards. A store is not automatically villainous because it is part of a larger, national company. I’ve long thought (and have said so publicly) that Anthropologie would be a perfect fit for Grand (my plan was to put them between Pottery Barn and J.Crew) – it’s got a boutique feel and sophistication that only enhances the shopping scene, but has the popularity to draw young customers who, frankly, are probably more likely to shop 50th & France or Uptown. Anthro will give them reason to visit Grand Avenue, where they will also discover Picky Girl, Karma and the many other local gems.