Blog Downtown Greater Council

Experiencing Transformation First Hand... Northland Special Events.

November 6, 2018

Experiencing Transformation First Hand….Northland Special Events by Mariah McKechnie

We vividly remember that day back in April when the Superior Street reconstruction project started its epic transformation process. It wasn’t the loud clanging or the ground shaking that caught our attention most, but rather the street lamps as the cranes lowered them to the ground, loaded them on trucks and drove them away. The changes to come truly resonated in that moment. Over the past 6 months at Northland Special Events, located at 314 & 324 W. Superior Street, our front row seat to the daily transformations of road construction had us thinking about the transformations we undertake every single week…

On a weekly basis, we transform blank spaces into beautiful, personalized environments designed to invoke celebration, joy, and memory making. Sometimes those spaces start out stunning - like The Greysolon Ballroom, for example. Of course, we've seen the incredible ballroom in hundreds of different color palettes and configurations, but let's face it, without a stitch of anything extra that place is drop dead gorgeous.

Now, the Curl Mesabi Curling Club in Eveleth? That takes miracle workers. Earlier this summer, we accepted the challenge to transform the enormous, concrete and metal box into a fairytale wedding venue for a phenomenal couple, Kristina & Derek. I'm proud to say, I think we nailed it!



Photo Credit - One:One Creative

So what did it take to make their dreams come true and transform the space?

1,500 sq. feet of drapery

5 Crystal Chandeliers

300 Gold Damask Chair Covers

75 table linens

3 Scissor lifts

96 hours of NSE power

300 feet of steel cord

True grit and determination.

And then we take it all down…one piece at a time - lowered, folded, packed up and transported back to our offices to be cleaned and prepped for next week’s scheduled transformations. We leave the venue just as we found it and we move on to our next location. We have this process down like a well-oiled machine, just like those we have seen daily on Superior Street.

The process of transformation truly has no end, just a new day, new location, and new medium. A mantra we commonly use at NSE is “Progress = Happiness” and the transformations we inspire and carry out in our world bring us and our clients tremendous happiness through their progress. No doubt, as we watched the new street lamps hoisted into their new homes while construction workers finished our new sidewalk, we couldn't help but be overjoyed and full of happiness!

Northland Special Events offers event planning, design, décor and floral services for events of all shapes and sizes throughout the region. Visit our website at or give us a call at (218) 499-9449 to discuss your next special event transformation!

Belle Aventure Salon Grand Opening

September 13, 2018





Now open in the Holiday Center - Belle Salon! They are a full service Salon with Experienced Stylists coming from the former Younkers Salon. They offer a relaxing, luxurious and upscale environment for all of our guests every time.

From Therese, owner of Belle Aventure: "I had owned a Salon back in the late 90's, early 2000 down in Iowa that was located in the heart of downtown. I enjoyed the collaboration that the downtown merchants had. Everyone worked together to promote each other and take care of one another. My hope is to experience that again here in downtown Duluth. We have been open a little over 3 weeks now and am excited on the reception and support we have experienced."

"Our clients LOVE our new Salon!!!!"

Services we offer include:

  • Specialized Hair Color that includes Balayage, Ombre and Fashion
  • All over Haircolor, Highlights, Custom Grey Blending
  • Blow Outs
  • Formal Styles
  • Makeup (application and lessons)
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Texture

Grand Opening Specials we are currently running:

  • Blow outs: $25
  • Men's Haircuts: $20
  • Manicures w/ Gel Polish $35
  • Spa Pedicures $45

Call Therese Spehar at 218-260-4200 for your next appointment!

Duluth's Blue Cross Blue Shield Retail Center

June 1, 2018

Duluth's Blue Cross Blue Shield Retail Center

Located in the lower corner of the maurices building on Superior Street is the BlueCross Blue Shield Duluth Retail Center. It’s an open, bright area with so much to offer! Here’s some Q&A about the retail center:

What can I do at a Blue Cross retail center? You can get help with enrollment in health plans. If you already have a health plan, a retail center associate will provide personalized face-to-face customer service. There is also FREE parking in the attached ramp.

I’m already a BCBS member, why should I go to the retail center? Learn about transitioning to Medicare at a workshop. Participate in a health or wellness class. Get answers to questions, such as: What’s in my contract? How do I set up a member account online? What if my family changes or I need to make plan changes? How do I check claim status?

What if I’m not a BCBS member? We’ll help you understand what health insurance is and how it works. We can review the plan options available to you. You can enroll in a health plan onsite. You can attend a workshop explaining Medicare. You can participate in a health or wellness class. You can learn about Blue Cross and our commitment to consumers and the community.

How do I sign up for the classes held at the Blue Cross retail center? Attend an onsite educational and wellness class or check out other services to support your efforts to stay healthy. Topics include Medicare, managing diabetes, health screenings, fitness for seniors and more. Classes are typically held during the week, mid-morning, early afternoon and early evening. Walk-ins are welcome, but class registration is encouraged so you can be notified of a change or cancellation. For a list of classes and events go to

Should I make an appointment? You can drop in, but it is best to book an appointment with a retail center associate ahead of time. The retail center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. However, hours from October 1 through January 31 are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Our phone number is 218-529-9199.

If I don’t live near the retail center, where can I go for information about health insurance? View information online about Medicare plans or individual plans or you can also try our new, pilot face-to-face online sales service if you are looking to purchase a health plan.

Upcoming Events

Kathryn Derbis Art Reception: May 18th 4-7 pm

Dementia Friendly Living: Lunch and Learn: May 23rd 11 am-1 pm

Nutrition Series from Chef RDN-Diabetes Basics: June 15th 10-11 am

Federal Employee Session: June 28th 10-11:30 am

Duluth Youth Creative Challenge (DYCC)-Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota recognizes that mental health is a very important part of overall health. By fostering productive and proactive habits of creative expression at an early age; we can help the overall well-being of the Northland’s youth as they traverse the journey into adulthood.

Blue Cross Duluth Retail Center is excited to sponsor the 2nd annual DYCC. Art created by youths age 5-16 will be on display at Blue Cross’s Downtown Duluth location from 7/9-8/31. The artwork will be judged by a panel of professional and impartial local artists. The overall winner will be unveiled Saturday August 11th at 10:00 AM. This event will foster individual creative expression through different forms of art. DYCC participants will be asked to create a great unique piece of art within one of the six themes; Fairy Tales, Great Outdoors, Heroes, Out of Place, Being Healthy, and Through a Window. Submission Dates: Ages 5-7 July 9th, Ages 8-10 July 16th, Ages 11-13 July 23rd. Ages 14-16 July 30th. Anyone interested in Duluth Youth Creative Challenge can contact Tammy Kausch @ 218-529-9199 or

Toasty's Bent Paddle French Onion Soup

March 1, 2018

Yummy!! Watch Chef Tom Hagen make Toasty's Bent Paddle French Onion Soup. Featuring Duluth's own Bent Paddle Black Ale

Toasty's is located at 220 W. Superior St. in Downtown Duluth and is participating in Eat Downtown - Duluth Restaurant Week March 5-10

Make your lunch plans now


Calling Duluth Home

February 20, 2018

Calling Duluth Home

by Sara Cole, President and CEO of Duluth Family YMCA

I’m new here. I have come to understand that I should not say that too often or too loudly (or maybe at all), but I think it may be evident in the confused look that I often wear while trying to determine in which direction I should walk through the skywalk downtown or when I am verifying the correct way to pronounce “Cloquet.” I arrived here with my car full of boxes (and a dog and cat) just in time for the late-October snow storm, proud to join the amazing team of staff and volunteers at the Duluth Area Family YMCA.

These days, I drive down into Duluth each morning and feel lucky to see the stunning vista of Lake Superior unfurl before me. I find myself an eager Midwesterner, one who has already told more than one person that the air “just feels cleaner here.” And one who has come to think of 30 degrees as relatively warm. I already have a favorite dish at a local restaurant, a preferred local coffee shop, and a set of snow tires. I have even managed to learn which city streets give me the best chance of making it safely downtown on the snowiest of days. But I have only been here for 115 days; Duluth still has much more to teach me.

In the months before I moved here, I was lucky enough to speak with a number of generous Duluthians who spoke of their city with such love and with such exuberant passion that I could not help but fall under its spell even before I had ever been here in person. Their stories varied—some of them had lived here their entire lives, some had grown up here and moved away only to come back, and some had found themselves here, initially for a year or two, but ultimately felt as though they never wanted to leave. Regardless of the details of their individual journeys to Duluth, each person claimed Duluth as their own and never wanted to leave.

I cannot claim Duluth as my birthright. In fact, I have called a number of cities home. What I can claim unequivocally is my joy in learning the nuances of a new city, in discovering the character in its local lore, in reveling in its holiday traditions. I am an eager student, and love each new fact and piece of locale lore I gather. With each passing day, the topography of Duluth’s stories and its history come more fully into view for me. My infatuation with Duluth’s smallest details is a bit like the heady, early days of falling in love, when even the most complex nuance seems charming and you find yourself rhapsodizing about all that makes your beloved so unique.

I’ve been collecting all the recommendations so generously showered on me. I am going to do my best to check out every scenic overlook, hike every trail, and visit every park; I am going to watch the big ships come in, turn out for the annual Christmas parade, and cheer for UMD hockey. I’m going to go ice fishing and maybe even eat some lutefisk. I am going to work as hard as I can to understand how I can be of service to Duluth, and how the YMCA can continue being a trusted and valuable resource for all members our community. Most of all, I am going to keep reaching out, asking questions, and admitting that yes, I am new here. And I have a lot to learn. But what a gift to ask and be answered. What a gift to have come so far and find myself at home.

A City We All Love to Call Home

February 7, 2018

Do you know someone out there who is in search of a new city to call home? Many cities across the country are looking to attract professionals who will establish themselves, their families, and their skills right within their city limits.

If Duluth were a single person wanting to attract just the right person, Duluth’s personal ad might look something like this: ISO cool vibes, music lover, culturally interested—must love theater, ballet, symphony as much as you love a really great beer and local music. Must be active! Avid runner, hiker, biker? Yes, please. Enjoy dining out and taking long walks along the shore. Work hard, play harder. Are you out there?

Just like companies look for candidates that will fit well into their culture, people look for cities and cultures that fit well with them. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn't. But, I’ll tell you that I’m a little biased about this particular cultural fit. Duluth has run away with headlines, TV spots, and magazine feature stories in the last several years when people are talking about the next “it” place.

But, seriously, for a minute: cities thrive when there’s a good match made between people living there and what’s available to them. Like any good relationship, there has to be enough in common to make you want to stay and work hard at it.

Duluth works hard at its part in the relationship. Cities with culture and creativity contribute to higher economic growth, especially for cities with low-income people. The size of a city doesn’t determine its performance, either. Duluth’s number of artists of all kinds is outsized per capita than many larger cities.

Access to the arts and diverse culture define the livability of our cities. Smart cities take advantage of promoting their culture to attract the right partners, so to speak—retaining and nurturing creative workforces and dynamic personalities that ultimately contribute to the life of their city.

Our downtown is thriving. That’s been said so many times by so many and it’s well deserved. But, is it a match for you? Our music, restaurants, entrepreneurs, coffee, trails, lake, symphony, theater, and performing arts culture are accessible and welcome. These are treasured benefits for people who work hard and play harder. There are few places with a bustling downtown business corridor where, in just moments, you can walk onto a scene like the Lakewalk, where all the stress melts away with a lake breeze.

Not only does the city have so much to offer culturally and naturally, but there’s a supportive business community here where people from all business backgrounds can be valuable resources for those just starting out and for those looking for advice on expanding or even for those expanding their business here from other locations. In many ways, Duluth is that city with real small-town appeal and relationships. Organizations like the Greater Downtown Council are valuable resources for everyone in our business district here. Make sure you have a great support system when you start a relationship with your new city.

All of this makes a match if I ever saw one. It’s why you should want to work here, play here, thrive here. Duluth is that city you’ve been dreaming about.

If you’re ISO amazing opportunities and a relationship with room to grow long into the future, hey, I’ve got just the right place for you.

Shelley Jones, of Jones Group of Duluth, is a commercial real estate broker based in Duluth and is a board member of the Greater Downtown Council.

Duluth Coffee Co. ready to warm you up!

January 12, 2018

Downtown Duluth has evolved drastically over the past few years. We're proud to be a part of the past, present and future of the area. Duluth Coffee Company made a deliberate decision to keep production in Downtown Duluth to cultivate vitality within the area. The new 70 kilo roaster emphasizes and promotes the craft of Duluth. We hope to be able to provide education and transparency to the sourcing and production of coffee. We've made wonderful connections downtown, and we're excited to foster these relationships in the future. We thank GDC for all of the promotion of the energy that the businesses provide in the area. - Sam Levar: Sales Manager

Duluth Coffee is happy to sponsor Duluth’s Largest Coffee Break on Thursday, Feb. 1st. Join us at Lake Place Park at 10am for a FREE cup of coffee from Duluth Coffee Company and FREE doughnut holes from the Greenery. This event is a fundraiser for the restoration of the Lakewalk Trail, so a $5 donation is suggested.

Our Intern Visits Solve Entertainment

August 14, 2017

Our summer intern, Kaylie Brooks (UMD), visits Solve Entertainment in Downtown Duluth with her friends and tells us all about it...

"One Sunday evening, I had the opportunity to experience all of the magic of Solve Entertainment. A couple of my friends and I had signed up to participate in one of their escape rooms to see what it was all about. We prepared ourselves and our minds for the mystery we were about to uncover. The Vanishing Act was the name of the escape room and we had 60 minutes to discover all of the secrets hidden inside and to find the masked magician before his sold-out encore performance. Lance, our guide, set the stage and put us into character to solve the mystery. He led us into a small, dim-lit room and closed us in. We slowly found clues to help us get one step closer to finding the masked magician. There were a couple of times we thought we came to a dead end, but with the help of our magic wand, we were able to uncover some more hints. As a team, we each used our strengths and took advantage of every clue and tool we were given. With 3 seconds left to spare, we had finally found the masked magician and solved the mystery!

We all had a blast playing the game and solving the mystery! It was both thrilling and entertaining trying to find all of the clues in just under 60 minutes. The staff did a great job setting up the room and connecting all of the clues. Being a first-time escape room participant, I had no idea what to expect and it blew me away with how fun it was. I would definitely recommend heading over to Solve Entertainment to try out their escape rooms for yourself!"