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January 13, 2003 // UPDATED 4:11 pm - April 27, 2007
By: By Ellen Nigon
By Ellen Nigon</I>

The new store on Nicollet Mall is decidedly un-Minnesota. It's small, hip and very boutique. You'd expect to find this store in New York City -- but you won't. Downtown is home to the first and only Bob Marley Footwear store.

Bob Marley Footwear has been around for two years online and in department stores, but the shop next to Target on Nicollet Mall and 9th Street is the first "concept store."

So why Bob Marley footwear and not Bob Dylan? Sales associate Cassidy Benson said she is asked daily about the connection between Bob Marley and shoes. According to Benson, three years ago Bob Marley's family approached Florida-based Coastal Boot Company about starting a line of Bob Marley shoes. A year later, Coastal Boot Company was designing and selling the Bob Marley footwear.

And the first Bob Marley Footwear store ended up in Minneapolis because store owner Jim "Trey" Paterson is the son of the Coastal Boot Company's CEO, and he lives in Minnesota. Paterson explained that he had the promotion connections in Minneapolis necessary to launch the store.

According to Paterson, even some of the Minnesota Vikings athletes are sporting new kicks from the store.

The men's shoes come in casual, athletic and boot. The boots range from subdued brown leather to bright orange. Women's shoes are mainly in the sandal category. The store also carries a few casual women's shoes, like one called "High Time," which resembles a wrestling shoe. Prices are $59 to $75 for men's and $30 to $65 for women's.

Beyond shoes, Bob Marley Footwear also carries the namesake's t-shirts and sweatshirts.

When asked who is shopping at Bob Marley Footwear, Paterson replied, "Everyone. Everyone comes in. We have students all the way to kids who've seen the shoes on the street. We've got business people and people in the service industry."

Store hours are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

Personal trainers open up on East Hennepin

By Ellen Nigon

East Bank residents may soon start looking a little skinnier and a bit buffer. Fitness Together, 314 East Hennepin Ave., opens this week in the neighborhood.

Fitness Together is a franchise that focuses exclusively on personal training. The concept is four personal trainers and four personal studios, each with their own equipment. Randy Zarecki, owner and manager of the East Bank Fitness Together, explained how his business works:

"When people call up and say they want to take a look at our services, we set them up with a trainer to work with them in a private workout room. If it turns out that we can help them reach their fitness goals, we set them up on a package. Then they come in usually three times a week to work with the same trainer in one of the individual fitness rooms."

Zarecki said that a single session with a personal trainer usually costs $50-$75, and the cost of packages varies. "We're certainly not for everybody," Zarecki said. "Many people simply can't afford our services ... because we do provide a higher level of service than any other fitness facility, our rates are a little higher."

Beyond working physically with clients, Zarecki said his personal trainers also offer nutritional guidance. "If weight loss and special caloric needs are part of what they'll need to reach their fitness goals, we take a look at their diet and set them up on a complete diet program plan," he said.

Zarecki said he wanted to open Fitness Together in the East Bank neighborhood because of the area's revitalization. "It's a great neighborhood to be in. There's a lot of interesting development at the moment," he said. "It appears that this neighborhood has a lot of services for unique and high-end commitment to clientele, and we think we fit in real well with that."

Fitness Together is scheduled to open sometime this week.

Gateway Variety opens in Towle Building

By Ellen Nigon

Gateway Variety is the new sundries store in the former Gift Horse space on the skyway level of the Towle Building, 330 2nd Ave. S.

For owner Sabir Dairkee, this is his third Downtown variety store. He also owns Crossings Variety in The Crossings, 250 2nd Ave. S., and Northstar Variety in the Northstar Center, 608 2nd Ave. S.

Dairkee started opening variety stores after years of working in retail, insurance and floor coverings. He opened his first variety store in 1987 because he was tired of working long and erratic retail hours. Dairkee said his first store was a learning experience.

"The landlords told me daily sales would be $300. When I got there I couldn't even get $3 a day," he said. Since then, he has found the right formula for variety stores, opening Northstar Variety in 1993 and Crossings Variety in 1994.

Gateway Variety will offer greeting cards, candy, beverages, cigarettes, health and beauty aids and gift items, as well as dry-cleaning services.

"We offer very high quality dry cleaning. My dry cleaner would not bring the clothes back until he is satisfied. You can trust your quality stuff with us," Dairkee said.

Gateway Variety is open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m.