St. Paul Notes: Grand Goodwill and Ordway openings

Ordway Center doormanNever mind the Minneapolis Miracle — St. Paul had it all this weekend, with grand openings for the Ordway’s new concert hall and the new Goodwill store on University Avenue. Admittedly, I visit Goodwill far more often than the Ordway, but I did get to the free open house on Sunday afternoon, and the new Ordway is just as impressive as the old. Of course, any place that has a gentleman in a top hat and caped coat opening the door for me is pretty darned impressive.

Goodwill’s grand opening this weekend was amazing. The brand-new, two-story store at University and Griggs (1239 West University Avenue) had a line down the street for the parking lot, and a checkout line that stretched all the way to the back of the store.

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Sadly, that meant I couldn’t buy any of the treasures I saw, because I didn’t have time to wait. (Rag rugs! Fancy teapots! Socks by the score! ) This is the biggest Goodwill store in Minnesota, with big windows, lots of color and even some brand-new merchandise. I’ll be back.

The old(er) Goodwill at Fairview and Charles will become a Goodwill outlet store (yep, that’s a thing!) The outlet store, where you pay by the pound for whatever you get, currently occupies a building on Highway 280, just north of University. You can still drop off donations at the convenient drive-through at Charles and Fairview. The cheerful worker who took my lamp said you can also drop off donations at the new Goodwill, but I’d advise using the old location until traffic at the new Goodwill settles down a bit.

Then there’s the upscale Goodwill, called Second Debut, which features designer-label clothes and shoes at Fairview and University. That location used to be a gas station, and then a burger joint, and still features one of my favorite walls, where a trompe l’oeil mural features a street scene with streetcar from the 1940s. (Stop in and look for familiar faces, including Paul Wellstone and Prince, on the streetcar.)

At the Ordway, I enjoyed the opportunity to saunter up and down the grand staircase, hear a lovely saxophone quartet from the Schubert Club, and discover amazing facts about the way the other half keeps their brass shiny.

IMG_3955“The brass found throughout the facility is non-coated brass which results in Ordway Center’s Housekeeping Department having to polish the brass after any time we have had hosted guests. … this sometimes results in having to polish the brass numerous times a day. One of the first things that new staff members are taught is ‘Don’t touch the brass!’ so it is looking new and spotless each and every time we have guests.”

Equally impressive were the chandeliers, handcrafted in West Virginia with brass bases from Winona Studio lighting.

IMG_3953“The lobby chandeliers over the Grand Staircase are stationary so when the globes need to be cleaned or bulbs replaced, scaffolding must be set up on the staircase and a genie used to life the crew up to service the lights.”

Alas, the genie was not in attendance on Sunday, but the Ordway is a magical place, even without him.

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