MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As Minnesotans spend their holiday cash this season, businesses along a struggling Minneapolis corridor hope they’ll be paid a visit. There are 2,000 businesses along Lake Street, according to the Lake Street Council. While hundreds remain closed due to the George Floyd riots and pandemic, a majority of them are open. Now there’s a new effort underway in hopes of attracting customers.

The colorful possibilities seem endless at Susana Mendez’ jewelry shop in the Midtown Market. She just wishes it was the same case regarding the number of customers stopping by.

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“Right now, because the COVID, it’s really slow,” she said.

Add to the pandemic a destructive week of riots following George Floyd’s death and it’s not a recipe for success.

“They broke in and they took everything,” said Joe Williams, owner of Michael’s Apparel on Lake Street, regarding the riots.

The rubble of destroyed businesses remains but countless others like Michael’s Apparel have rebuilt and reopened. Many of the were able to do so in part thanks to donations to the We Love Lake Street campaign. About $11 million was collected, with half of it already being distributed in grants to businesses affected by the riots.

“Lake Street is just as welcoming as it always was. We’re missing a few stores, but there are still a lot of businesses running out here that’s willing and able to serve your needs,” said Williams.

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Now, people can find many of those businesses on the Lake Street Council’s website, where there’s a new interactive map highlighting shops that are open. It allows customers to see what they sell and hopefully visit the businesses in person.

“We really wanted to show visually and conceptually how much Lake Street has to offer,” said Marie Campos, communications and marketing coordinator for the Lake Street Council.

They’re hoping the map will be a financial boost during a make-or-break time stores and restaurants.

“We want to make sure that the community and customers know that every dollar counts this holiday season,” Campos said.

It’s money that might ensure Mendez’s jewelry shop sticks around well into 2021.

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“It’s hard, but I have a hope and wait for better times,” Mendez said.

Jeff Wagner