Gabberts, a 60-year retail icon in Edina, is nearing its curtain call in the Galleria.
The upscale home-furnishings store started a three-day liquidation sale at its original location in the Galleria on Tuesday, ending a retail legacy that started in 1959 near Southdale. In 1972, the furniture store anchored the debut of the Galleria, then and now the only luxury shopping center in the Twin Cities.
But Gabberts last month opened a store in Bloomington in a giant new building with its corporate cousins, HOM and Dock 86, all units of Minneapolis-based HOM Furniture Inc.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Kathleen Gates of Edina as she hunted for closeout bargains in the store on Tuesday. “It makes me wonder about the future of brick-and-mortar stores.”
Until the pandemic, the future of centers as successful as the Galleria were hardly in question. And even now 85% of the center’s stores are open and more expected to reopen soon.
“Traffic is light, but conversions [sales] are high,” said Wendy Eisenberg, Galleria’s general manager. “We have, however, seen traffic increases every week since we opened on May 18.”
Traffic was strong at several stores Tuesday. More than a dozen shoppers waited in line at Lululemon as the store limited the number of shoppers in the store. Gabberts’ liquidation sale brought in scores of shoppers.
“We’ve marked everything down 35 to 80%,” said HOM Chief Executive Rod Johansen. “We’ve got $1 million in rugs, $500,000 in accessories and lots of lamps. We won’t be having a warehouse sale, so we’ll be marking things down to the end. All reasonable offers will be taken.”
Nancy Shank, owner of the locally owned women’s boutique Dugo, said her sales are down about 50% compared to last June.
“Traffic is slowly increasing now that the Galleria’s restaurants have reopened,” she said. “A few weeks ago people didn’t have a place to go other than to shop. Now they can come for lunch or dinner too.”
Nearly all of the Galleria’s retailers that were open in March have reopened. Shinola, Allen Edmonds, Peloton, Paper Source (which took over the Papyrus space) and Warby Parker will reopen soon, according to Eisenberg.
J.W. Hulme, Origins, Cole Haan, Tumi, Polarn O. Pyret and Big Island Swim & Surf have not set an opening date. The Big Island store had been cleared of merchandise on Tuesday. All restaurants are open except for the Barnes & Noble Kitchen, which is serving only cookies and barista drinks for now.
With Gabberts’ departure, the center has lost several high-profile home-furnishings retailers, including Restoration Hardware and Z Gallerie. The Restoration Hardware space had a letter of intent with an unnamed tenant signed before mid-March and it is on hold, according to Jennifer Smith, director of leasing at the Galleria.
In January, Galleria owner Hines Global REIT Inc. of Houston put the center up for sale after owning it since 2012. But last month Hines took it off the market.