Confident in Downtown, HuckleBeary Buys Structure | The daily briefing

A downtown Duluth retailer whose business has been stifled by the reconstruction of Superior Street, COVID-19 and the loss of its leased space has decided to purchase a building and stage a comeback.

Emily Ekstrom purchased the property at 216 to 218 E. Superior St. to house the HuckleBeary Gift Shop, which features locally made products.

“I appreciate the beauty of this building and the historical value of this building,” she said at a press conference on Thursday. “Without the support of our local customers, this wouldn’t happen.”

She opened the business in 2016, finding success as a temporary “pop-up” holiday store. Then Ekstrom was hit with a series of setbacks, including construction that temporarily closed Superior Street, the pandemic, and a previous landlord’s decision to demolish the building she rented at 106 E. Superior St. But receiving encouragement from other business owners, Ekstrom decided to reopen his store and strike a deal to purchase his own structure. How did it survive the ordeal, which forced many other small businesses to close?

“We remained flexible, creative and responsive to the situation,” she said.

Ekstrom bought his new commercial home from Penny Perry, whose family has operated a frame shop on the site since 1975.

“It’s a wonderful place in the heart of the HART district,” said Perry, who intends to focus more closely on restoration work and stained glass, working from home.

Ekstrom will remodel the property before HuckleBeary reopens this fall.