Grand Avenue’s Pottery Barn to close in early 2024
The Pottery Barn store on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue has announced its closure, marking the end of retail activity at the Grand Place mall. The store will shut down by the end of January, leaving the mall vacant for the foreseeable future.
Employees were informed of the impending closure earlier this week, and store managers are expected to make an official announcement by Friday. Calls to the store were redirected to a manager who was scheduled to be in on Tuesday.
This relocation is significant because the St. Paul Pottery Barn was the only one of its kind in the Twin Cities and the only location in the east metro. The store’s departure comes after a string of commercial tenants have vacated the mall since the start of the pandemic, including an M Health Fairview clinic and national clothing chains J. Crew and Lululemon.
The mall’s ownership, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, has been criticized for its handling of the vacancy situation. Small-business advocates have expressed concerns about the owners’ reluctance to negotiate with local retailers and their preference for holding out for larger, national tenants.
Lowering rents, they argue, could attract more tenants and stabilize the Grand Avenue retail scene, while also boosting the building’s market value. However, the owners appear to prioritize maintaining higher lease rates, even if it means prolonged vacancies.
On Monday, members of the Grand Avenue Business Association expressed their disappointment about the Pottery Barn closure and hoped that the building would be put up for sale soon. The three-story Grand Place, which was originally named Victoria Plaza, has faced controversy since its inception in 2000 due to its size and reliance on national chain retailers.
Despite initial resistance from neighbors, the mall opened a year later, designed to blend in with the surrounding architecture. Pottery Barn was the first of the mall’s original three street-level tenants, followed by Bound to Be Read and J. Crew. The bookstore has since closed.
Williams-Sonoma Inc., the parent company of Pottery Barn, recently announced the promotion of chief design officer Monica Bhargava to president of the San Francisco-based brand. Pottery Barn remains in three locations in the west metro: Edina, Maple Grove, and Minnetonka.