January 28, 2019
2018 Board Chair Lonnie McQuirter , 36 Lyn Refuel Station (right), accepts a Minnesota flag flown over the State Capitol on January 11 in honor of his leadership and service to the retail community.
Duluth Editorial Board: Sick-And-Safe Keeps Getting Pricier
From the Duluth News Tribune, Editorial Board, January 22, 2019

At least now we have a first thing to cut from next year's city budget. Last week the Duluth City Council created a new position, a "compliance officer" to oversee and enforce the city's new, still-controversial, and still-not-needed earned-sick-and-safe-time ordinance.

Councilors had passed the ordinance in May, recall, even though they had no idea whatsoever what it might cost taxpayers. Worse, as Mayor Emily Larson revealed in an interview in November with the News Tribune Editorial Board, no councilor even asked her or her administration about the potential costs.

The hit to taxpayers begins at about $140,000, as it turns out, which was the amount the mayor included in her 2019 budget proposal for the compliance officer, printed materials, and the unenviable task of educating Duluth's less-than-thrilled local business community about the ordinance's burdensome requirements of them.

While the costs to businesses to document and report their compliance didn't seem to be much of a consideration in City Hall, the upfront cost to pay an overseer is now set. The sick-and-safe-time officer will be paid between $62,232 and $79,920, as councilors approved. So hardly the less-than-full-time position the mayor talked about in November.

The $140,000 allocation this year will be from the city's general fund, the mayor said. That means it's taxpayer dollars that won't be available then for more-worthy priorities such as public safety (the city has been struggling to fill openings on its police force, as the News Tribune reported in the fall, in part because it hasn't allocated the resources to offer more-competitive wages) and fixing streets (the city no longer has a street-improvement fund and instead is looking to the state Legislature for permission to create a new sales tax for road work).
MN Senate Republican Leader: Marijuana Legalization Has No Chance This Year
From the Pioneer Press, Ryan Faircloth, January 28, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said Monday that bills to legalize recreational marijuana have no chance of passing in the Senate this year.

The Republican from Nisswa called legalization a “controversial issue, to say the least,” and said Republicans in the Senate are focused on other priorities — like crafting a budget and reducing health care costs.

“Legalizing recreational marijuana is … not something I would consider a priority issue,” Gazelka said in a statement.

Two marijuana legalization bills have been introduced at the State Capitol.

State Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, introduced a bill last week that would put recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2020. And on Monday, Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, and Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, introduced a bill that would legalize it through the Legislature.
Nearly 30% Of Shoppers Applied For A Store Credit Card Over The Holidays
From the Retail Dive, Kaarin Vembar , January 28, 2019

Nearly three in ten Americans applied for a store credit card during the 2018 holiday season, according to a CompareCards.com report.

Thirty-two percent of people who applied were not approved. Of those who were approved, nearly half said they would pay off their card in one month or less.

Younger millennials (ages 22 to 29) were the largest demographic to apply for store cards, but they were also more likely to be rejected, according to the report.

Store credit cards are nothing new, but the number of shoppers who applied for one during the 2018 holiday season exceeded expectations. The CompareCards.com study revealed that consumers were tempted by the cards even though they come with an average annual percentage rate of around 25%, making them a very lucrative opportunity for retailers.
Duluth City Council to vote on Tobacco 21
From the Duluth News Tribune, Peter Passi, January 27, 2019

The Duluth City Council is expected to vote Monday night on a proposed ordinance that would forbid the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products to anyone under 21 years of age.

The stakes of the initiative dubbed "Tobacco 21" loom large on both sides of the debate.

Josh Wilken-Simon, owner of Legacy Glassworks, said the new rules could threaten the future of his shop in downtown Duluth.

"After eight successful years in Duluth, I can say that I've been truly able to achieve the American dream. However, I fear my American dream is in danger of ending. A large chunk of my customer base is college students, who if T21 passes will no longer be able to even enter my gallery," he said, projecting a 35 to 45 percent loss of business that would be difficult if not impossible to weather.

Wilken-Simon suggested a more modest increase in the minimum age to 19 would help keep tobacco-related products out of the hands of most high school students, while still providing college-age adults with access.

But Dr. Tim Zager, a physician for Essentia Health in Duluth, noted that the local medical community has lined up in favor of the age threshold of 21, already adopted by more than 20 other local jurisdictions across the state, including cities and counties.
Superior Pitch: Small Companies Harness North Shore’s Branding Power
From the Duluth News Tribune, Peter Passi, January 27, 2019

A few years ago, when Ethan and Amanda Casady visited the State Fair, they marveled at all of the Minnesota-themed merchandise for sale: baseball caps with “Sota” stitched across the front; T-shirts emblazoned with an image of the state; coffee mugs depicting scenes from the fair.

“I saw what a grasp that had on people – to have that Minnesota-themed logo on their shirt or hat,” Ethan Casady said. It made an impression, and he wondered whether people would be interested in shirts and hats that reflected the unique place where he lived and worked – along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Casady, who runs a landscaping and snowplowing business, began to design some logos in his spare time – mostly sketches inspired by the deep-woods landscape all around him. Just for fun, he had the Duluth printer that makes apparel for his business put the images on some shirts and hats and told his friends about them on Facebook. When some orders started coming in, NorShore Clothing Co. was born.

In preparation for last February’s Super Bowl, held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Twin Cities boosters pushed a “Bold North” theme that advertised the state’s hearty embrace of winter. In recent years, the Dayton brothers, Andrew and Eric, sons of the former governor, have stressed the “North” in their products, such as the clothing sold at Askov Finlayson, their men’s boutique whose website declares, “We don’t endure winter. We embrace it. Welcome to the North.”

Here on the North Shore, some small outlets have refined that statewide theme into a regional one that celebrates not only the North, broadly, but the North of the deep woods and, of course, the biggest of the Great Lakes. Among those businesses are a handful of apparel companies, like NorShore Clothing, that have emerged in recent years.