Dayton’s Project Opens to the Public Nov. 18
Rendering of first floor retail space at The Dayton’s Project The Dayton's Project

Dayton’s Project Opens to the Public Nov. 18

Project leaders have scheduled a “maker’s market” featuring 30 local vendors.

Editor’s Note: updated on Oct. 25 with additional brands participating in the Departments at Dayton’s maker’s market. 

The public will soon get a first glimpse at the interior of the long-awaited Dayton’s Project in downtown Minneapolis.

A seasonal maker’s market called “Departments at Dayton’s” will open on Nov. 18 featuring 30 local vendors. The venture promises a “diverse selection of goods and brands not found anywhere else in Minneapolis,” said Tricia Pitchford, principal of Mid-America Real Estate, in a news release. Mid-America is handling retail leasing for the Dayton’s Project.

Mich Berthiaume, a local retail expert who’s curated several Minnesota markets in the past, chose the vendors for the Dayton’s market. Berthiaume appeared on the TCB 100 list in 2020.

Larissa Loden necklace
Jewelry designer Larissa Loden will be among the tenants at the inaugural market at the Dayton’s Project.

Vendors at the inaugural maker’s market will include jewelry designer Larissa Loden; medical cooling product maker Onyx Cool and Opal Cool; and pottery studio Pig’s Eye Pottery. Other participating brands include Blue Heron Soap, Junita’s Jar, Zelba + Mary, Kobi Co., Karen Morris Millinery and GiftyWrap. Project leaders will release a full list of vendors later this month, according to the release.

A second batch of brands announced Oct. 25: Grass Lake Furniture, Wewerka Photography, Handmod, Seventeen Birch, Herbal Alchemy, Molly Pepper, Minnesota Awesome, SJC Body Love, Shop in the City and Hacienda San Jose.

The market will also sell apparel and accessories featuring the iconic Dayton’s logo.

“Shopping local not only allows you to support your local economy,” Berthiaume said, “it also helps to bypass the issues we’re seeing with the global supply chain.”

In an email, a project spokeswoman said that the market will be a “semi-permanent fixture” at the Dayton’s Project. Leaders plan to hold the market “for the next several months, and possibly longer,” she said.

The market will span more than 40,000 square feet on the first floor of the Dayton’s building.

The maker’s market evidently aims to play on Minnesotans’ nostalgia for holiday shopping at Dayton’s — and potentially lure some new tenants in the process. “This is an incubator model that will help smaller retailers get their feet under them for a more permanent location in the building,” the spokeswoman said.

“It’s an especially great month this year because we are starting to see a return to the office and return to events downtown,” she added. “In addition, the holiday season is a great shopping time, and we’re thrilled to open The Departments at Dayton’s for holiday shoppers to have a true in-person experiential shopping experience in the heart of Minneapolis.”

Onyx Cool shoulder pad
The market will also feature Onyx Cool, launched by Minnesota entrepreneur Tammy Lee.

The Dayton’s Project, which seeks to transform the iconic Dayton’s department store building into a food hall and office building, has been beset with a number of challenges since it was first announced four years ago. Most recently, the property was at the center of a legal squabble between two New York financial and real estate firms. In August, the project’s developers announced new financing, which is aimed at resolving the legal cloud over the project.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic arrived on American shores in March 2020, developers have had a tough time attracting office or leasing tenants to the building. To date, they’ve landed just one: professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP, which signed a lease for about 30,000 square feet of office space. The property has 850,000 square feet total of office space and 200,000 square feet of retail space on the three lower levels.