‘The downtown party store’ finds new home
By ERIC BEST : The Journal : August 9, 2018
Litin’s Party Value has been known as “the downtown Minneapolis party supply store” for about 60 years. Even as its current home transitions to another use under new ownership, Ned Litin, the store’s second-generation owner, plans to keep it that way.
“We want to continue to be the downtown party store,” he said.
The business has been forced to leave its home for the past 15 years, an aging warehouse near the Minneapolis Farmers Market. In an effort to keep the store open, Litin has been on the hunt since March for a new space near the city’s urban core that can accommodate all the needs of a party supplier, such as a loading dock, parking, lots of traffic and plenty of room for themed party supplies, balloons, cardboard cutouts, gift wrap, office supplies and everything else downtowners need to host an event.
“We have very unique requirements,” he said.
But Litin has found a new home for the party store, which, while technically outside of downtown, will keep his family business open. The space, at 913 Plymouth Ave. N. in the Near North neighborhood, is less than a five-minute drive away from the store’s current 16,000-square-foot warehouse.
It’ll be a new chapter for the business that’s been responsible for festivities across the city for several decades.
Ned’s father, Donald Litin, started a distribution business that’d later become Litin’s Party Value in 1947 at 7th & Park downtown. Over the next 20 years he was “scratching and clawing” his way into business, Litin said, opening to the public in 1967 as the party store it is today. Since then, it has bounced around several locations, including the current home of the Freehouse in the North Loop, but Litin’s has remained a source for “all the weird stuff,” he said. Litin said they are a destination for specialty items, such as tableware in every color of the rainbow — even ivory, magenta and burgundy.
“Another way I see it is, Costco and Sam’s Club carry 20 percent of the products that represent 80 percent of the sales and we’re left with carrying 80 percent of the products that represent 20 percent of the sales,” he said.
The store’s days in its current home are numbered.
Hopkins-based Jacobs Management Corp. is buying the 1961 warehouse building with a plan to turn it into a self-storage facility with about 900 climate-controlled storage units.
The project, tentatively named Minneapolis Lakeside Self-Storage in plans for its 434 Lakeside Ave. address, calls for renovating the building and adding about 33,500 square feet to it through a two-story addition. Plans submitted to the City Planning Commission earlier this year show an updated façade with metal paneling, burnished brick and rock face block, as well as upgrades to landscaping.
“It’s a tired 1960 industrial building that has not been well maintained, and we’re going to invest significantly in updating the curb appeal of the property,” said Todd Jones, vice president of real estate development, in a June interview.
The facility could open by March, though Jones said it could partially open as soon as January following the renovation.
Jacobs Management developed a storage facility on Washington Avenue in the North Loop that it later sold. It recently developed similar facilities in St. Louis Park and New Hope.
Jones said with a population base of 256,000 within a few miles of the site, the area is a “very desirable market.”
“This is something we’ve been doing for about 30 years now,” he said. “We’ve done more of these self-storage facilities over that period of time than everyone else.”
The 434 Lakeside Ave. building is also home to Accent Store Fixtures. Manager Mike Iwaskewycz, whose father owns the store, said the fixtures retailer moved earlier this summer to 701 Plymouth Ave. N., just two blocks over from the future Litin’s store.
The party store’s lease means that Litin’s can continue outfitting parties across the metro. The new location is a few thousand square feet smaller, Litin said, which means the store will go “on a little bit of a diet.” In keeping with the store’s current home, Litin said he wanted something that would fit its “warehouse image.”
“We’ve always been in these weird warehouses, and so the people are kind of expecting us to be in a weird warehouse, so we continue to look for these weird warehouses,” he said.
Litin said they’ll begin moving products and breaking down the store around Aug. 20 with an anticipated reopening around Sept. 10, though no specific dates are set.
During those “disruptive” weeks, Litin said, they plan to have as much product available. But these weeks as summer begins to wane are typically slow for business.
“It’s a weird lull,” he said. “Everybody is up at the cabin.”
Litin’s Party Value, at 434 Lakeside Ave., is hosting a moving sale with tagged products 30 percent or 50 percent off in the store. It’s open 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday.