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Christmas comes early for startup retailers getting free space

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Duluth's Greater Downtown Council will grant the Christmas wishes of some wanna-be retailers. The Duluth News Tribune reports that the council will offer six vacant storefronts to existing or aspiring retailers this holiday season.

The retailers that are selected will get free rent for two to three months. Shops must open by Nov. 30 and remain open at least until Jan. 10.

Chosen on a first come, first served basis, the retailers will set up in prime vacant locations, ranging from a small spot in the skywalk to a large space that was previously home to a hardware store. The gimmick has a serious purpose; the council's goal is to turn a short-term gift into a long-term business with permanent roots.

Retailers hoping for a profitable holiday will take heart from a new survey that shows consumers have more money this year. WCCO reported that the annual poll by the Discover card found the average family will spend just over $1,000, up 20 percent from last year. That number includes more than gifts, lumping in holiday restaurant outings and finery for dressy parties.

The station said that Minnesota’s numbers differ from the rest of the country. A regional survey from Dave Brennan, a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas, found regional budgets for revelers will not go up nearly as much as 20 percent.

That’s not because Minnesotans are Scrooge-ish. It's because the economy here was already moving from the red to the green last year, so the area doesn't have as much of a gap to close.

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