From Pop-Up to Permanent: MidModMen+friends Extends Commitment to Retail Space

MMM+f bus board

MidModMen+friends, a retail store featuring vintage furniture and home décor with a modern vibe, announced a long-term commitment to retail space at 2401 University Avenue in St. Paul. The decision marks a transformation of the store from a short-term “pop-up shop” to an ongoing part of a resurgent neighborhood.

“We feel like our story is all about revitalization,” said owner Neal Kielar. “Not only is the merchandise finding a second life through restoration and resale, the store is part of University Avenue’s economic reawakening as the backbone of the new Green Line light rail corridor.”

Kielar describes the store’s vibe as one grounded in clean, functional design with plenty of leeway for bold statements through art and found objects, strong color and unexpected combinations. He and partners Jon Mehus, Mary Warner and Erik Warner scour the region and country for high-quality furniture and décor to stock the store.

From credenzas and lounge chairs to bar cabinets and sofas, the store carries a changing portfolio of furniture for every room. At any given time, customers might find a sleek Danish teak desk, low-slung chairs, dressers with modern sculptural details, or tables with tapered pencil legs.

There’s also an extensive selection of vintage glassware, bar accessories, dinnerware, and art glass from American, Italian, Finnish and Scandinavian makers. Some of it is ideal for everyday use while others feature intricate gold or silver trim – for special occasions or gifts.

Kielar admits to a personal weakness for vintage music, coffee table books and framed art, so he keeps those categories stocked based on his own tastes. Plus, the store carries the work of local artists, such as Kendell Lindsay whose photography is currently showcased.

One way the partners set the store apart is by ensuring that their merchandise is ready to use. That starts with careful selection for quality and condition when acquiring items, followed by preparation for display. That can involve anything from a good cleaning to a moderate rejuvenation or full-on restoration.

Kielar explained that the store’s trial run and the neighborhood’s experiment with short-term commercial space uses have proved mutually beneficial. The store opened October 2012 as a ‘pop-up shop’ with an expected life span of three months. But customer and neighborhood response was so positive — and sustained — that just one month into the retail experiment store partners decided to stay.

MidModMen+friends found the space through the St. Anthony Park Community Council’s “pop-up shop” program. That program, supported by The Starling Project enabled a variety of organizations – from artists and theater groups to political organizations – to rent the space for very brief periods. The arrangement was part of a broader stopgap effort to bolster commercial activity along the 11-mile light rail line being built to connect downtowns Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“The St. Anthony Park Community Council and the Starling Project bet on the long-term vitality of this neighborhood, and we’re living proof that their instincts are right,” Kielar said. “In addition to bringing in our own customer base, we’ve gotten amazing support from nearby businesses and residents.”

MidModMen+friends is located at 2401 University Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55114, one-half block west of the Raymond Avenue intersection. The store is open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM. There are extended store hours in conjunction with special events and promotions.

Store hours, inventory postings and other information is available at Facebook.com/MidModMen.

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