Dig Deep: How does the closing of Herberger's affect the workers of northern MN?

Jun 7, 2018

When the iron mines layoff workers or shut down, we hear about programs to assist them and training to move into other jobs.  What about retail workers?  On Dig Deep liberal Aaron Brown and conservative Chuck Marohn look at those jobs and what it means.  Aaron wrote in his blog, Minnesota Brown:

But let me ask you this. What if we weren’t talking about a mine? What if we weren’t talking about one business, but hundreds? And what if I told you that 700 jobs was just the beginning, and that those jobs are never, ever coming back?

Because I’m talking about the retail industry. See, there was no big announcement that the Irongate Mall was going to turn into a cavernous hall of echoes; it just happened slowly over two decades. We got news that the Younkers/Herberger’s parent company was shutting down and then gradually realized that this mean the Virginia Herberger’s and Duluth Younkers stores — anchors of their malls — would close forever. Same with the Hibbing J.C. Penney’s and Sears. Same with the malls and downtowns before that. 

Even so, we tend to see these stories from a customer’s point of view. We lose a place to shop. But what’s often forgotten is how workers and local ownership bear the brunt of these corporate and consumer changes.

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