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Downtown Notes: Events Center, Mini-Wal-Marts, Dell Rapids Bakery

As I consider various plans to rejuvenate Madison's downtown, various bits of downtown news roll across my desk:

Sioux Falls Event Center: On a 5&ndash4 vote, the Sioux Falls City Council voted last night to build the fabled Events Center at the Arena site rather than downtown. Let's see how that affects Mayor Huether's 69% approval rating.

Mini-Wal-Marts: In what ought to be an oxymoron, Wal-Mart is trying out a new store model: small stores. These Wal-Mart Expresses will be 15,000 square feet, a tenth the size of a Super Wal-Mart. They are meant to tackle dollar store competitors in areas where Wal-Mart isn't already making lots of money. The stores will also serve as delivery hubs for Wal-Mart's online shoppers.

My friend Mr. Allen and others have talked about bringing a Wal-Mart to Madison as a way to save downtown by bringing more shoppers here. Madison may be too small for a big Wal-Mart; would a dinky Wal-Mart bring any more business to Madison's downtown, or would it be just one more dollar store?

The Smell of Bread on Main Street: But in our seal to rebuild retail on Main Street, let's not forget the Mom-and-Pop options... or in Dell Rapids, the Mom-and-Daughter option. Kristi Corcoran and her mom Jane Millman opened Ella's bakery in downtown Dell Rapids during Cootie Days. Their speciality: cookies.

Their other specialty: playing a vital role in community development?

Jeff Eckhoff, executive director of the Minnehaha and Lincoln County Economic Development Association, said any businesses that help fill main street storefronts are important to a community.

"Retail businesses really help give a town an identity," he said [Luke Tatge, "Dell Rapids Bakery Opens," that Sioux Falls paper, 2011.06.10].

That's what I said! (And why doesn't Madison have Cootie Days?)


  1. Matt Groce 2011.06.14

    Hey if Walmart comes to town will they buy their "Dead Peasant" insurance in locally, or is that insistently irresponsible evil done at a national level?

  2. Ashley Kenneth Allen 2011.06.14

    I agree with you there Matt.. that is sick and wrong of the many corporations that have that type of "insurance".

    I agree with many that Walmart may not be the solution, but unfortunately has to be part of the discussion. I personally do not care for Walmart or some of these other big box options, but I am afraid big retail is the only option to keep our town from declining further. We have stood by and watched our neighbors lure more and more of us to their communities for shopping, while our downtown continues to shut down. It is time to bold and try something big.

    Join us at to keep the opening round of discussion going.

  3. RGoeman 2011.06.14

    To compare store sizes, our local Pamida store is around 45,000 square feet, so a 15,000 sf mini-Walmart would not necessarily provide much, especially if groceries are the main reason for our retail leakage.

    Here's a thought...Let's considering joining forces with Jeff Eckhoff, former Madison resident and tie in with Minnehaha and Lincoln County's economic development efforts to create an economic growth corridor.

  4. Ashley Kenneth Allen 2011.06.14

    I do agree that a Walmart Express would not fit in our community. I think it is a topic of discussion merely because it has been in the news this last two weeks.

    We need a large retailer that can bring in groceries, clothing, and household goods. If that has to be a Walmart Supercenter or a Targetland or whatever, let's talk to those corporations and see if we fit their criteria for building a store.

    While we bring in Jeff, how about Mike Knutson and Joe Bartmann? We could have used the Rural Learning center here in Madison. Those guys are doing big things in a really small community. Howard, Coleman, and Chester are nice communities... but I am hoping our new retail efforts will bring more people from those areas to Madison to shop, and help reverse our sales leakages. The status quo is not getting down. We need a team of individuals that can think big, but also carry out the plans.

  5. Ashley Kenneth Allen 2011.06.14

    I really need a spell check and grammar check on this blog... or I need to re-read my posts before I click submit. :)

  6. Wayne B. 2011.06.14

    I've been gone for far too long... did downtown lose its bakery/donut shop?

  7. Matt Groce 2011.06.14

    No it didn't Wayne, and I just got done eating one more pastry than I should have from them. Looks like another day before that healthy diet kicks in.

  8. Ruth 2011.06.14

    The little "city" of Chester has a -cafe-bakery-catering now and has for the past couple years. This has brought in many people from the lakes for meals and baked goods and the catering has been really booming. It's called The Old Farm House Cafe. I know there are Madison people going there for dinners, etc. also. It is surprising the number of people this quaint little cafe brings into Chester. No matter how small it all helps. A good business for bringing in people for the hardware store, the gas stations, etc. Proves you don't have to be huge to be a success for a town. Creativity is the answer.

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