Posted at: 11/05/2012 8:19 PM
Updated at: 11/05/2012 8:29 PM
By: Dayna Landgrebe
A prominent business in downtown Duluth is closing, and says traffic from The Last Place on Earth is partly to blame.
Catherine Imports, located at 11 E. Superior Street, has posted signs for a 'Going Out of Business' sale in its storefront windows. Manager Kelly Yetter said they'll be closing on December 31 if their inventory will last that long.
Yetter said activity coming from the Last Place has seriously hurt their business. She said although she doesn't know if it's the sole cause, she believes the image of the Last Place is responsible for a major loss of revenue.
"We were definitely showing a profit again, and then the Last Place on Earth happened and thousands have been lost," Yetter said.
However, Last Place owner Jim Carlson said, "I'm an easy target." He said his business is being viewed as a "scapegoat". He told Eyewitness News that he suspects business at Catherine Imports is slow because of a down economy.
The Last Place has been the source of controversy for the City of Duluth as it has waged a war on the sale of synthetic products. Last Place sells a variety of legal synthetic drug products, but has seen two raids in just over a year.
The most recent raid happened in July. It was part of a federal investigation in which authorities were searching for illegal synthetic drugs. They seized approximately 20,000 packets of incense, also known as synthetic marijuana, two assault rifles, three loaded handguns and roughly $20,000 in cash. Carlson has not been charged with any crime.
In December 2011, Yetter told Eyewitness News that the boutique had seen a six percent increase in sales during the holiday season. Catherine Imports has been at several locations during its 25 years of business, and Yetter said the downtown locale hasn't been ideal.
"[Customers] are afraid to walk the streets. We have people outside our door throwing up, doing drugs. It's been absolutely horrendous," she said.
Yetter said at this point, Catherine Imports has no plans to reopen.