During a 40th anniversary celebration for the Miller Hill Mall, Machelle Kendrick introduced mall employees who talked about what the mall means to them and to the community. Kendrick is the director of marketing for the mall.
Dick Bellamy has managed Helzberg Diamonds since 1981 -- 32 years. Bellamy told a crowd of Chamber Ambassadors, mall employees and onlookers that the mall is a draw for visitors to Duluth.
Today there over 230 Helzberg Diamond stores; the one at Miller Hill Mall was the 19th, as Barnett Helzberg Jr. enjoyed taking his children to the Boundary Waters. Bellamy said that Duluth's location had a lot to do with the store being one of Helzberg's early stores.
The event was held in conjunction with the grand opening of Dick's Sporting Goods store -- the first in northern Minnesota.
"We are on the front line, leaving a positive impression," Bellamy said of mall employees interacting with visitors to Duluth. He said that employees always encourage out-of-town visitors to check out all of Duluth, including other shopping areas like the West Duluth business district and Canal Park.
"Whenever you see a visitor, you should say 'thank you' because they are helping lower our taxes," City Councilor Dan Hartman told the crowd.
Longtime employees of the mall's stores gathered for a photograph. Some of those longtimers included Dick Bellamy, store manager of Helzberg's Diamonds since 1981; Bonny Johnson, who started at Walgreens in 1973 and moved to Helzberg Diamonds; Debbie Pederson of Schmidt music, who started at Bressler's 33 Flavors in 1973 and moved in 1974; Sue Anderson of Spencer's Gifts; security guard Colin Bates, who will mark 35 years at the mall next spring; 12 employees from Younkers, some of whom began at Glass Block before Younkers joined the mall: Laura Eisenmann, 47 years; Irene Ward, 40 years; and associates with more than
30 years of service, Dick Nelson, Kathy Anderson, Herchel Chandler, Barb Cox, Luanne Eyer, Kim Sabatini, Linda Johnson, Kandy McManus, Dot Sinnot, and Sam Tanghe.
"The mall and I are of the similar vintage," said Mayor Don Ness, who will turn 40 in January. He said he remembers having lunch at Walgreen's and walking across the hall to see movies such as "The Empire Strikes Back."
"In the past it used to be Downtown vs. the Mall -- not anymore," the mayor said. He went on to say that online business are more competition now. "Shopping at any of the stores keeps dollars within our local economy."