Boo! hoo: Teener’s to leave Downtown

Family sells legendary business, which will move to Northeast the day after Halloween

After 51 years as Downtown's Halloween headquarters, Teener's Theatrical Department Store and A-1 Costume Fabric Shop is closing -- sort of.

"I feel that at this stage of the game, I should take time for myself," said owner Sophie Teener, who has owned the store since her husband, Jerry, passed away six years ago. Earlier this month, Teener sold her family business to husband-and-wife team Chris Grieder and Chris Jordan-Grieder. The Grieder family bought not only every piece of merchandise in the store, but also the rights to the name.

"I'm glad … I'd like to see the name go on," Teener said. "I'm happy this business will remain."

The Grieders will move the store to 1517 Central Ave. N.E. where the merchandise, which now spans five levels, will be on one floor. "And we'll have a free parking lot," Chris Grieder added.

According to Teener, parking had become a burden for customers at the current Hennepin Avenue and 8th Street location. Parking wasn't free, and there wasn't much nearby. She said: "People were beginning to complain about the parking situation."

For Grieder, moving some merchandise to the new location has been like a rich archaeological dig.

"There's a lot of merchandise people don't realize we have," Grieder said. "I've found big drums filled with 110 pounds of glitter and a lot of vintage fabrics, as well as props and vintage Christmas decorations."

Sophie Teener's late husband, Jerry, founded Teener's 51 years ago as a fabric store above the now-defunct World Theater on 7th Street between 1st Avenue North and Hennepin Avenue. Later, the store moved to 4th Street South and Nicollet Avenue, where Xcel Energy is now located. Finally in 1962, Jerry Teener moved the store to its current location at 729 Hennepin Ave. in the tall, skinny building with ornate faade.

After moving onto Hennepin Avenue, Jerry Teener bought the stock of a failing costume shop, and Teener's began to resemble the store it is today.

With 51 years worth of costumes, fabrics, wigs and anything theater-related, the Grieders have no easy task in relocating everything the Teener family accumulated.

"We've had lots of family members helping, and eight temps helping with the move," Grieder said.

With plans to open the new Teener's on Nov. 1, and Halloween just around the corner, Grieder said the costumes will be last to go. Those who rent Halloween costumes will receive a card with instructions to return them to the Central Avenue store.

After more than half a century outfitting Minneapolis, the Teener's are ready to spend a Halloween at home. Sophie Teener's son Steve has worked fulltime with the family business since 1984 and is glad to see his tenure end.

"I'd like to take some time off. I haven't had a vacation in 10 years," he said.

According to Steve Teener, he decided not to carry on the tradition that his father started and mother continued because his heart just isn't in the costume business.

"This sort of theatrical thing isn't for me," Steve Teener said. "It was fun doing these things and meeting these theatrical performers, but it got to be … time to move on."

Sophie Teener said that without Steve, she couldn't have continued the store without her husband. "I could never have done this without Steve," she said. "He is a very important part of this business.

Building owner Eugene Heck has been the Teener's landlord for their entire stay at 729 Hennepin Ave. and is sad to see them go. He's not sure what will become of the quirky building.

According to Heck, he'd welcome another tenant. He said selling the building is also a possibility if the buyer would also purchase the adjacent Shinder's building, which Heck also owns.