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St. Paul Small Business Owners Say Recession Is Nearing End

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Some small business owners say the recession is coming to an end. However for them, it’s not quite the same as it was before.

The businesses along St. Paul’s Grand Avenue have changed since hard times hit a few years ago. There are now more big chain stores along Grand Avenue, next to the small shops that survived. With competitor Pier 1 Imports just down the road, Traditions Home Furnishings is celebrating 25 years in business.

The upscale furniture store survived the recession.

“It was really scary,” said owner Suzanne Schumann. “It’s been really challenging. We have a few more wrinkles and grey hairs than we did four or five years ago.”

Suzanne and her husband Mike opened their first store in St. Paul in 1987, and since have expanded to St. Louis Park and opened a store in Naples Florida to target the snow birds who spend the winter down south.

The Schumann’s said the recession hit their Naples store first, and hard. They said it took about one year to feel the effects at their Twin Cities stores.

In a business that relies heavily on the housing market, the past few years have been a struggle all around.

“Getting people into a store like ours is the biggest challenge we have,” said owner Mike Schumann, who adds business was great before the housing bubble burst.

Mike and Suzanne said the worst of the recession is behind them, and they’re not alone.

“I do think we’re coming out of it,” says Peter Kenefick, a small business owner and spokesperson for the Grand Avenue Business Association.

As the local economy on Grand Avenue shifts, the Grand Avenue Business Association is working to gain members, including big chain stores.

“They’ve done a very good job fitting in with the feel of the neighborhood,” said Kenefick, who added the chain stores are hiring workers in the area.  Mike and Suzanne are simply happy to have survived to celebrate 25 years of business.

“It feels really good to have accomplished something like this in such challenging times together,” said Suzanne.

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