‘Not Dark Yet,’ but iconic Zimmy’s Restaurant in Hibbing closes

Zimmy's in Hibbing, Minnesota

Zimmy’s Restaurant in downtown Hibbing, Minnesota, announced it will close, at least temporarily, after tonight. Zimmy’s is the primary landing spot for Bob Dylan fans who come to the Iron Range to see the music icon’s hometown.


Today my friends Linda Stroback and Bob Hocking announced that they would be closing Zimmy’s Restaurant tonight until further notice. A year of tough economic conditions in downtown Hibbing and back taxes is forcing the closure, with the hope of the restaurant restructuring and reopening in the near future.

Linda described the company’s woes in a letter posted on the Dylan site Expecting Rain last Friday, and in the Facebook post announcing the closure earlier today.

This is a hard day. Not just because Linda and Bob are close friends and fellow collaborators on Bob Dylan Days in Hibbing, but because this is another example of the lost economic opportunity on the Iron Range I’ve been writing about.

As robust as the iron mining industry might be right now, the economic transfer of rocks on the edge of town is not trickling into the towns the way it did 80 years ago. Population loss, social stratification, and a failure to generate alternative ways to use downtown business space caused this, and will cause more damage yet if unabated.

Further, in Zimmy’s, we’ve lost another arts venue and the only serious celebration of the most famous and influential musician to ever come from the Iron Range. Dylan Days 2014 is still on, but we’re in a world of hurt figuring out if Zimmy’s will be back up and running by then.

Years of arguments about PolyMet, Essar and hand-wringing over mining have not and will not fix this problem. We need to look and act inward, for our own downtowns and the institutions we love. If we don’t, we might look around one day and realize they’re gone. Just like so many before.

I join many on the Iron Range and around the world who hope for Zimmy’s to reopen soon. I think there’s a good chance. But this is a stark reminder of what’s at stake in this 21st Century economic battle.

Comments

  1. David Gray says:

    Aaron,
    In a concrete sense what are you calling on people to do? Eat more at Zimmy’s if it reopens? I’ve not eaten at Zimmy’s when I’ve been in Hibbing. Restaurants are nice things to do if you have sufficient disposable income. Without adequate jobs or income nonessential, as opposed to groceries, gas or medical for example, businesses are going to find it hard going. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel for someone seeing their business struggle or close but if a community doesn’t have sufficient employment all the secondary beneficiaries of that employment suffer as well.

  2. Rangertildeath says:

    Biggest loss since the legendary Tuffy’s went down.

  3. Ranger47 says:

    You’ve cornered him with the correct question David – “Aaron, in a concrete sense what are you calling on people to do?” His hearts in the right place but regarding “concrete action?”, a deafening silence.

    • @David – That is precisely the point I was driving at. (The post is short, and mostly fueled by the emotion of the situation). Eating there or not eating there is beside the point now. The issue is the lack of disposable income by the people who *would* eat there, and the lack of traffic downtown. It’s a canary in the coal mine. Concrete action would be things that address this issue (and we might disagree about specific policies, but sufficed to say there are a number of possible responses from myriad political and social philosophies.)
      @Bob, I’m kind of grumpy on account of my friends having a really shitty day. I have put a lot of writing out there in the public forum, some of it general, some of it specific. I also am involved in a number of specific activities in the community. I would hardly say that I put out a deafening silence, except perhaps in specific response to your mostly negative and accusatory comments. I don’t promise nor can I sustain a private argument with you after every post.

  4. Linda Stroback says:

    Thank you Aaron & Christina for being close friends for so many decades now. My, time does fly. In talking today with someone who has only lived in Hibbing for the last 5 years, I was told she has seen a slow death in our community. We have always loved Hibbing & I am in agreement that more jobs are needed for our younger work force. When will that happen? I also agree that with the highest ever costs of fuel for transportation & heating our homes & businesses, there will be no expendable income for dining out. People are needing medical help for reasons of stress, pollution, not eating healthy, etc. As a small business we actually have been tackling wellness & healthy diets with the Fairview staff & other local businesses. Even with our closure, our head chef Audrey will continue what she started because she believes in a better community, she is passionate about a better life for Hibbing residents, children & adults. Last month she received an award from the Hibbing chamber & Hibbing high school for educational acheivement in the community. She earned that by volunteering her time every week to teach in Jeannie Bymarks class. As I sat in to assist & I learned much about our human life on earth from Audrey, 20 years my junior. Aaron, Christina & Audrey, you are the future of Hibbing. I am proud to support you in any I can! Love you all so much.

  5. Of course we need “more jobs” but actually, we probably need more people educated for the specific jobs that are open. Last spring I spent a considerable amount of time on some employment websites for both Hibbing and Virginia. There appeared to be quite a few jobs open, if the applicants have a good post secondary education, perhaps a masters or doctorate, which were the type I was looking for, as I was trying to help a friend who wanted to move to the area. So I guess I have to wonder how much the high schools are doing to get the students to understand that yes indeed, there are ways to make a good living on The Range without being a miner.

  6. Kristina Goulet says:

    Hey,want to hear something that may come as a surprise to many?Hibbing is not the only town on “the Range”!!I know,hard to believe,and for many,accept.Hibbing’s arrogance is it’s own downfall.Always has been,always will be.Just saying.

  7. steve baker says:

    Zimmy’s location seems to have been cursed since its original incarnation as the Atrium by the machinations of its founder, Sami Chami.

    “Blame it on a simple twist of fate”?

  8. Ranger47 says:

    You state the obvious Loeij, but some wish it weren’t so. Post secondary technical degrees are and always have been the driver of economic growth and top of the food chain. From there, all economic value is created and flows..including good things like Zimmy’s.

    • Perhaps there will be more people in the technical degree jobs, but these aren’t pushed by high school counselors. Just go to a high school awards ceremony and see what get applauded: its the kids getting the four year college scholarships. Yes, we need well trained, SMART technical people. And the wages for many of these jobs are decent. The jobs I was seeing on the lists were in fields paying $50,000 – $300,000/year. Nothing to sneeze at either.

  9. Jesse White says:

    Hibbing’s main street has been slowly dying for several years now, no doubt helped along by the Dr. Kevorkian of the retail world – Walmart. Virginia will soon see the same fate. But if you want to blame anybody for the dying economy on the Iron Range why not point the finger at the only constant (besides mining) in the area over the past 25 years – liberal leadership in the form of the Iron Range Delegation. While business after business on Howard Street is closing up shop, your representative in the state legislature, the inexperienced and hand picked by the old-boy network Carly Melin, is busy pushing for medical marijuana and anti-bullying legislation. I’m sure both have their place but let’s be honest, our local elected leadership has failed the Iron Range for years and like sheep you keep electing them to office. I’m sorry for the closing of Zimmy’s. It’s sad when anyone’s business fails. But let’s not point the fingers at Joe and Sue Public for not eating their enough. Let’s look at the bigger picture – the trickle down mining effect doesn’t work anymore but our Range Delegation continues to hang their hat on it and live off that reputation. Meanwhile, you have a failed leader in the White House who’s every action is destroying the very fabric of this country. Talk about anti-small business. But that’s a different story all together.

  10. Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinions here, but I think blaming “the White House” for this occurrence on the Iron Range is as foolish as blaming the public for not eating there enough. This is a regional economic problem related to our demographics and economic dependence on one industry. I’ll accept the argument that local leadership (primarily DFL oriented) has failed, but I do not believe had the leadership been primarily Republican all this time that the situation would be different. Michigan’s UP has become much more conservative and Republican, but isn’t any better off and is arguably worse off than us. Demographics, population, activity. These are our problems.

    • Young Ranger says:

      You can blame DC for just about everything that’s going on. They were the ones that Deregulated Capitalism which led to all of these Greedy Evil Monopolies and this modern day Oligarchy. It goes like this since 99.99% of you don’t get it. “Regulated Capitalism was Deregulated which led to Modern Day Corporatism, Corporatism is now leading to Socialism which then leads to Communism. After Communism you will have Serfism/Global Slavery Via Technology and population reduction of the majority. These people operate by the philosophy of Problem, Reaction, Solution. First You create the problem and act like it’s an accident, then you get a reaction which usually is please help me, and lastly you impose more rules and regulations for less freedoms and opportunities.

  11. Mining has its ups and downs, and has become “more efficient>’ I’ve been told. Or else there were way way way too many people hired back in the 70’s and 80’s. But the dollar doesn’t go as far and wages haven’t kept up with inflation, so establishments like restaurants suffer. Younger families are either just getting by or perhaps saving for their kids’ college education, so less income that is discretionary. With the squeeze on wages, the young families with “good jobs” may find that they can’t even afford to buy a house, much less travel to tourist-y areas in the future. I looked at an inflation calculator recently. My first “good job” paid $7100 in 1972, and my living expenses were about as low as possible, as I owned no car, and didn’t have either health, home owners, or car insurance to pay, just a minimal college loan. I saved just a few hundred in the first 6 months. But according to the calculator, that $7100 would now be $41000. My son has a similar job, is supporting a family, and earns $33,000/year, but pays for his own benefits and insurance from that salary. See? Less discretionary income.

    The population in the area is aging, meaning more fixed incomes for many, and investment income tanked during the Republican administration. I highly doubt that an administration actually controls the economy, but it plants the seeds, and the Republican planting led to a world wide recession. Look at the charts over the last ten years and figure out who is to blame. Blame Melin? You make it sound like she has been in action for 25 years. Laying the blame doesn’t solve the problems, even if accurate. There are many areas of the country that are much worse off than we are, and I think our underlying strength is due, in part, to many jobs having higher wages than in other areas of the country. Keep in mind that some states follow the federal minimum wage for workers that “may” get tips, which is STILL $2.13/hour. Of course, these are the Republican states.

  12. Ranger47 says:

    Agreed Aaron, it’s ok to say “if the Range were Republican, nothing would be different”, but you don’t know. The facts would tend to say, maybe we should give the Republicans a shot?

    As pointed out by the NYT in December 2013, the 20 biggest U.S. cities with the largest percentage of people living below the federal poverty level (about $11,500 for one person), we find three Republican mayors and 17 Democratic mayors.

    Comparing poverty rates and political affiliation in large U.S. cities:

    City – % of people below poverty level- Mayor – Political party
    Detroit, MI – 42.3 – David Bing – Democrat
    Cleveland, OH – 36.1 – Frank Jackson – Democrat
    Miami, FL – 31.7 – Tomás Regalado – Republican
    Fresno, CA – 31.5 – Ashley Swearengin – Republican
    Milwaukee, WI – 29.9 – Tom Barrett – Democrat
    Memphis, TN – 28.3 – A C Wharton – Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA – 26.9 – Michael Nutter – Democrat
    Tucson, AZ – 26.7 – Jonathan Rothschild – Democrat
    Atlanta, GA – 25.8 – Kasim Reed – Democrat
    Baltimore, MD – 24.8 – Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – Democrat
    Phoenix, AZ – 24.1 – Greg Stanton – Democrat
    Chicago, IL – 23.9 – Rahm Emanuel – Democrat
    Dallas, TX – 23.9 – Mike Rawlings – Democrat
    Houston, TX – 23.5 – Annise Parker – Democrat
    Sacramento, CA – 23.4 – Kevin Johnson – Democrat
    Los Angeles, CA – 23.3 – Eric Garcetti – Democrat
    Long Beach, CA – 22.9 – Bob Foster – Democrat
    El Paso, TX – 22.8 – Oscar Leeser – Democrat
    Minneapolis, MN – 22.7 – R.T. Rybak – Democrat
    Indianapolis, IN – 22.2 – Gregory Ballard – Republican

  13. If people want to vote Republican they can. My argument is simply that they do that in the U.P. and not much is different over there. The reason for that is the fact that our demographics are beginning to match those of the UP, not those of growing or stable economic regions. A President Romney wouldn’t have changed the persons per household or average age of the Iron Range, nor would a President Elizabeth Warren or Ralph Nader, for that matter. This is why I continue to focus on the micro level — the ways we can generate the small activities that lead to measurable progress and a policy of attraction, rather than exclusion.

    Or don’t! And then see what happens. This story is a pretty good clue.

  14. Or another thing to do is look at the economic trends during the various administrations. That tells a tale of contrasts. You can look it up yourself, so you don’t have to believe AB or anybody else who might have a bias.
    Or one might ask, if the powers that be were on the other side of the fence during any time period, how would their policies have played out. Remember the GOP promised JOBS JOBS JOBS. Did they do a good job fulfilling that promise? They were in charge in the congress for quite awhile, so they could put through what they wanted to.

    I traveled in the UP for a week in 2010. The economic devastation there was even more apparent than it is in our area.

  15. Hibbing has been slowly dying. Old Mexico closed recently along with other businesses on Howard Street and 1st Avenue. Look at how many businesses have closed that have liquor licenses in the last few years. We can blame the pressure of the local police and the fear of having a beer and getting pulled over. The local police have scared more business away than anything else! With limited taxi service in town, it’s not worth the hassle to patronize local establishments. It won’t be long and the police will lose jobs because everyone will stay home. The little bit of youth will take a chance but they will fade as well. Losing Zimmys is not only sad but something Hibbing had as a highlight for all the Bob Zimmerman fans to come see! Maybe Bob could make a visit and show some appreciation for what the owners have done to keep his spirit alive in Hibbing. Maybe even help get it reopened somehow, someway!
    If local business wants to survive… Keep the police at arms length and not parked outside these establishments! Grandma’s seems to be off the radar! I strongly encourage the local council to get involved before some more go down.

  16. This is not a new problem. This happens in smaller towns around the country all of the time.
    The first thing that people need to understand is the economy of the town.
    1. There are people
    2. People have needs. Although every person/family is different, each has a certain needs that are addressed by the community. Things like food, healthcare, or vehicle maintenance are examples of these.
    3: To allow people to address these needs, they need some form of income. In other words, everyone needs a job to allow them to spend money.
    These three things are fairly basic “factors” in any town or city’s economy. There are many other factors in that vary across different size populations, but these three stay the same for the most part.

    Next, as I learned at HHS, the businesses in the community will set there prices at certain levels based on supply and demand. For example, your average snow shovel around the range costs maybe $10 to $20. In Georgia, where they are all of a sudden seeing “snow storms” for the first time, stores are selling the cheapest crappiest shovels for over $50. This is because they know that people are willing to pay a certain price for a certain item so they intend to maximize their profits.
    Around the Range, we have awesome, local stores like Thrifty White, Super-One, and L &M Supply. They all cater to different markets (pharmacy, grocery, and construction supply/sporting goods). When there are businesses like Walgreens, Walmart, and Lowe’s that first look that coming to are community, they see two things. The first is demand. They know that a majority of the community will gladly pay slightly less to not shop at the locally run businesses. I keep hearing people say that this is wrong and should be illegal. The fact is, this is what happens in capitalism. I do not shop at Walmart because I think it is good to keep that money in the city as much as possible, but the simple fact is, there are a lot of people in the community that cannot afford to shop at the local stores.
    One encouraging note however, I mentioned that the larger corporations see two things. the first is demand, but the second is the possibility of growth. Now, I am not saying the guarantee. Walmart knows how to close a store quickly and efficiently as well, however, these larger corporations thrive on a growing economy. This doesn’t mean they came to look at the town for a few days and talked with a few locals that said, “Yeah, we can grow”. They have offices full of people looking at our town’s economy, our history, our industries, and running thousands of simulations for the future. They know what potential is and they must have seen at least some to open a business in our town.
    So , the best thing we can do for the city is encourage growth. This will help both the big businesses and the local businesses.

    But how to we grow? That is the main question that everyone wants answered. In a previous post, I believe the author mentioned that he is looking for you, the community to come up with ways. I will admit that I do not have any big answer, but I believe I can lay out some facts and directions for you to consider.
    The first consideration is, what will happen if Hibbing continues as it has been and rely on the mining and the hospital to be its main sources of economic growth. Being a person raised in around the mining industry and now with a profession in the mining industry and seeing what is happening around the world with mining I can say with some confidence that this will be the end of Hibbing. It won’t be fast at first. There will be about ten more years of fairly normal mining activity that allow the community to continue on, slowly closing businesses and giving younger generations more reasons to not come back if they leave. After about 10-15 years, if there is enough ore left to mine, there will be a large decrease in jobs at many of the mines. This is because of the advent of automation at the mines. There are two large companies now that have begun to offer automated haul truck operation and many smaller ones that are developing as well. This is the stage where the technology starts to become economically feasible and it will be tested alongside normal operations. After about 10 years, mining companies will find that the automated systems will outperform the human operators and eliminate safety risks. Not to mention, a fleet of 25 trucks, run by four 12-hour crews, will employ 100 people. With automation, there will be the need for 8-10 dispatchers that control the operation of those 25 trucks. Shovels and support equipment like dozers are not far behind with automation. I predict that in 25 years, there will be hardly any people behind the controls of the larger equipment.

    So what will the community do without mining? This is a question that everyone seems to hate.
    So instead of asking that question, ask another question; What sorts of industries can help the economy?

    I think the first step is to make HCC in to a four year school. This will encourage younger generations to stay in the area and it will allow more businesses to stay open because there are more people to add to the economic value of the community. Younger people want entertainment so you that will encourage development as well. Once you start offering bachelor’s degrees and beyond, there will be a spike in the growth in the community. Colleges encourage growth with departments dedicated to research and development. Younger generations can focus on jobs or start-up companies in all sorts of fields. Software development, solar energy, nuclear research, hydrogen fueled vehicles. These are all technologies and industries that are on the brink of becoming or have become important. Focusing on the STEM areas could be huge. In this new age in the U.S., there is an incredible need for scientists. This is how we can make America better. The U.S. essentially led the 1900’s with our industrial revolution and technology development. Why can’t we do the same now?

    Now, I am NOT suggesting that this would be an easy task. It would surely take several years and a large amount of funding, but the return on investment would be absolutely enormous. Unless we have a lot of oil beneath us, I do not see any other way to turn the local economy around.
    Bob said it best: “The times, they are a changing” . Don’t shy away from change, Hibbing. Embrace it and make it yours!

  17. Sorry this is not exactly on topic. “…While business after business … is closing up shop … Carly Melin is busy pushing for medical marijuana…” I, too, think Carly Melin is probably a bit too young and inexperienced to be a legislator, but I do thank her for providing hope to some families with sick children or suffering family members. Personally, I don’t know how anyone can look at that little poor girl whose family testified on the bill, and knowing that the child is suffering from 30 seizures a day, tell her family that they should not be allowed to try anything that might help her. Medical marijuana should not be a “democrat” or “republican” issue, and it certainly should not be minimized or morphed into a reason why the economy is slow or why a local bar closed. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who need this bill passed.

  18. Badly run businesses go out of business.
    How about they pay their employees what they owe them already, before they start thinking about re-opening?

  19. Jesse White says:

    This is why I try not to enter into debates on the Internet because people pick and choose what to respond to without taking in the entire body of the message. I’m not arguing that a Republican or Democrat would do a better job, I’m simply stating that our Iron Range delegation has survived and thrived off of their names and political party affiliation for far too long. They’ve hung their hats on the idea that mining and the off shoot businesses that may or may not be created will be enough to hold together the economics of the area. So instead of being proactive and seeking out different types of businesses or opportunities, they’ve chosen to sit in a holding pattern and you get to where we are at today – a dying Iron Range economy that can’t support the disposable income necessary to pay the prices Zimmy’s was charging for a burger. And instead of seeking new blood with a passion and the knowledge and expertise necessary to lead the way in the legislature, the Hibbing area elected a woman fresh out of college with NO experience in the real world. Her experience is limited to what she was taught in college. She’s essentially a professional politician and professional politicians have driven our country into the ground. I made mention of Obama because he to is a professional politician who when elected president had little to no real world experience outside of college. And look where we sit today. Rudderless and drowning in debt. Is it all his fault? No. But has his leadership been successful? It would be very difficult to argue it has. As far as Melin’s support of Medical marijuana goes, I fully support her. I believe it is a worthy cause. But what else has she done while in office? What other noteworthy accomplishments have their been? What has she done to try and diversify the economy of the Range or deal with an aging population? Sure she’s been a part of this and that but what real new initiative has she proposed? Meanwhile, Howard Street is two steps away from being a ghost town.

  20. Hi Jesse:

    Sorry for picking and choosing out of your other comment. I guess I have just felt so badly for that little girl with the seizure disorder that reading about medical marijuana in your first example just hit a chord with me.

    Regarding your entire new post, I do get what you’re saying. And I do agree with a lot of it.

    This is going to sound so “old-school”, but I personally believe the reason for the downfall of many local businesses has not only to do with overall economic development or politics in general but very directly with that fact that “kids” (20-30 year olds) can really not go out around here anymore and spend the money that they do actually have. In the 1970s – 1990s (and likely before, but those are the dates I’m familiar with), there was an actual “bar scene”. Kids could go out, smoke cigarettes and drink without complete fear of a DWI, jail-time, and fines. Kids would even come home from college on the weekends sometimes just to “go out” in their hometown with friends. People didn’t have to stand outside in -20 degree weather or rain to have a cigarette. Bars had enough revenue to hire local musical talent and many other employees. People would pack restaurants at 1 am – 3 am. Police would help people get home, not just bring them to jail.

    Now, kids around here that age still drink, but they are far more likely to have a party at home or at the casino than to risk going out downtown and supporting those local businesses. It’s quite different. If I have a direct criticism of the local legislators, it’s that they allowed the legislature to pass laws that are so stacked against local establishments’ success that there will likely never be many that survive around here. (Yes, yes, I know these laws make everything very “safe” for us all now. Yea for “safe”.)

    Anyways, sorry for picking apart your previous comment!

  21. Ranger47 says:

    Jesse…you nailed it. It couldn’t be said better. Politicians without any real world experience, no matter how big a heart, are incapable of / unqualified to lead us. I had an honest forthright dialogue with Carly on that issue, begging her to work in the real world for a few years before taking a political position (which would be handed to her now or 10 years from now). She wanted nothing to do with working for a living first. What a wasted life she’s embarked on…

  22. Arnie Dye says:

    Like some of the other posters here, I’m normally not a person who chimes in on these discussion boards. However, after reading some of the passionate debating going on I feel compelled to add my ‘two cents.’ First disclaimer on my part, I have not lived on the Iron Range for over 25 years, but I still consider it home. I also had a unique advantage of observing (from an outside prospective) the ebb-and-flow of the economy up there each time I visit. Being active duty military I’ve visited all over the U.S. and parts of the world and have lived in places with booming and busting economies. But in the end my family is planning on retiring on the Iron Range with hopes of starting our own business.

    Truly I do find it very sad that Zimmy’s closed. Both my wife and I ate there a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. But as some other people already said, places like Zimmy’s are very dependent on people having discretionary income. Bottom-line: if people are more focused on getting day-to-day bills and living expenses covered, then going out to eat is a once in a while treat. On the flip side, businesses (again like Zimmy’s) need to adjust (as much as possible) to the changing economic environment. I’m not saying they did not try to change with the times, because I honestly do not know, but I do think of the show Restaurant Impossible. Those not familiar with the show’s premise, Chef Robert Irvine with a team of contractors and cooks goes to failing food businesses and helps them reboot. A common theme on the show is how the restaurant owners failed to change their business models (and even their food and décor) to the new tight fisted economy. Chef Irvine helped turn around businesses in economic areas very similar to the Iron Range, so I do believe business reinvention is very possible.

    I believe the crux of the Iron Range economic woes is the fact that 90% of the region is wholly dependent on the mines. As some people have already written about in this forum, the iron will one day run out. While someone jokingly wrote that finding oil would turn stuff around, I can say it will for only a time. My wife is from western Texas, prime oil country and her home area economy is booming. However, the oil economy ebbs and flows also; there is boom now only because new drilling technologies are allowing the tapping of old oil wells. But one day the oil too will run dry. I’m in agreement with Chris that the economy of Northeastern Minnesota needs to be diverse and innovative.

    The vast majority of the Iron Range region needs to change its paradigm of waiting for the next big mining/iron industry project to save them (think Essar Steel). The economic saving needs to come from within, people of region need to think of their own business ideas and start them. Ideally these ideas should be products or services that can be used across the Midwest, the United States, North American, and even the world (remember this is a global economy now). Once those kinds of businesses start taking root in the Iron Range, people will start flocking to the areas because that’s where the work is (even though it’s a booming oil economy, North Dakota is a great example of this). One example I can give is Magnetation. Ironically I learned about this company a couple of years ago from one of the old miner hosts at the Hull Rust Mahoning mine view. He told me about a company that recycled old iron ore tailings (junk rock) into 90% pure iron that is ready for world use. Magnetation’s idea was so innovative it was featured on CNN Money and Fortune Magazine (http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/19/magazines/fortune/redman_iron.fortune/), how many businesses from the Iron Range make positive national-level news like that? I got a feeling not many. But think for a moment if the people of Iron Range created their own Magnetation type businesses (NOTE: this business does not have to be just iron based, it could be service based, or food based, or even product based), how much good press (and investment) the region will receive? Like I stated earlier, that’s my two cents.

  23. I feel for the owners of Zimmy’s. That is sad. I mean them no disrespect. However, I feel obligated to point out the brutal truth in Kristina’s comments here. She is saying something familiar to East Rangers.

    Sometimes I find the Hibbing centric conversations odd. The rest of the Range barely knows anything about Hibbing, or people from Hibbing. Hibbing is the least Range-y of all Range places. Hibbing is like North Edina. Its a 3.5 hour commute from the suburb of Hibbing.

    Hibbing people refer to everywhere else on the Range as “Eveleth,” regardless if they are talking about Eveleth. They don’t know where Eveleth is, or how Eveleth is positioned geographically in relation to the rest of non-Hibbing. Has anyone noticed that? There is a completely incongruent attitude in Hibbing with the rest of the Range.

    I don’t feel for bad for Hibbing. Sometimes I ask myself, “Isn’t Aaron from Cherry?” Cherry is swampy Eveleth to Hibbing people. The East Range contains the pain and poetry. Hibbing just represents bland assimilation. Hibbing lacks the flavor of everywhere else on the Range. Its almost impossible to act the same in Hibbing if you are from anywhere else on the Range. It wouldn’t be proper or something.

    Doesn’t matter anymore, though. Hibbing is now a giant vacuum. Maybe the East Range is a sick degenerate place, but at least no one there is ashamed of it. There is just no passion in Hibbing.

    Now I’m just rambling on like an idiot. But, I can’t help it. I am way off subject. I have just been fascinated by this phenomenon my whole life. Its like the world was collapsing all around the Range and people had all these experiences. Meantime, Hibbing people went on their seemingly homogenized lifestyles on their homogenized streets. Hibbing is so sanitized.

  24. Young Ranger says:

    I seriously think that the people in their 20s and 30s that are still left on the Iron Range need to give some thought to leaving this area and possibly the state. Sure Mining has been booming and record profits continue, but yet there have never been so many vacant buildings and closed businesses in these towns. They are literally dead! Fools on local city councils continue to allow Walmarts/ Other Monopolies into our small communities who take total control of our economy, pay non-living wages, reduce the values of all commercial and most residential real estate, raise taxes on lower/middle class people, and increase poverty. I mean Chinamart made 17 billion in profit last year, but can’t afford to pay it’s employees more and what’s just as sick is local union members love constructing these places. Stop supporting these places for you don’t need to be buying everything there. You think your saving money, but all your doing is raising your taxes since the non living wages they pay cause your taxes to go up so the Government can pay for and subsidize all of the unemployed people and underemployed jobs they create! (Walfart’s Motto Shouldn’t be Save money Live Better, it should be We make it tough to be in business and make money so you can depend on the government forever”

    High Schools are talking about consolidating and getting new buildings when they can’t even fill the classrooms they have, but yet they’ll never build a 4 year college to try to keep young people here or bring in new ones. The Iron Range, so resource rich like Africa, yet but most people are barely making it or poor. I mean the median household income on the Range is about $18,000 less than the National Average and $25,000 less than the State Average. That’s the Truth and What a Shame! Bob Dylan had it right “Get Outta Here” and that’s something I’m planning on doing sometime soon! I’m sure he’s happy that’s Zimmy’s closed anyway! Who would want a town that made fun of you using your name to make money. I sure wouldn’t! It also seems like the Iron Range has a lack of appreciation for creativity. You Stupid Politicians and Local City Officials Need to Pull Your Heads out of Your Rear Ends because You have contributed more than anybody to ruining this area thanks to your Narrow Minded Mining Philosophy! In 10 years Goodbye HibbTac. You have brought nothing to this area but Corporate Greed which has destroyed the community and entrepreneurial spirit. Thanks A lot and Please Go 2 Hell!

  25. Ranger47 says:

    Young Ranger – Sounds like you got your marijuana prior to Melin makin’ it legal.
    People DO save money shopping at Walmart. Neither Walmart nor the people raise taxes. Melin, Anzelc, Tomassoni and Bakk raise our taxes. All we have to do is fire those folks and “the Government will stop subsidizing all of the unemployed people”. Then they’ll either go out and get a job locally…or move to North Dakota and Wisconsin where jobs are plentiful.

  26. I Googled Hibbing and right at the top was Urban Dictionary information on Hibbing, MN…

    Hibbing
    A giant hole in the middle of nowhere. Filled with Rednecks, And old crusty people. With absolutely NOTHING to do ever except go to walmart. There is only a small group of people that are actually cool in this town. Your lucky if you EVER get out of this place.
    I would never want to go to Hibbing.
    Hibbing is the last place on earth you would want to go.

    Here is the URL if you don’t want to take my word for it.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hibbing

    Enjoy your economy!

    BTW I pulled my business out of Range years ago along with the 30+ jobs. The taxes were high but for the most part it was the all the Red Tape of MN and the Iron Range. Coincidence that the range was the home of the Communism in the United States, I think not. My business is doing better than ever since the move!

  27. I stumbled on this article after today seeing the Indiegogo campaign to save Zimmy’s. I found this because before deciding to pledge $$ I needed more information. The campaign states the trouble was “unexpected tax burden”. I’m no genius but have operated several business. Confused how you can run a business for 30 years and be done in by an “unexpected tax burden”. Taxes are part of the deal and I don’t imagine that one year they got a letter that said “Surprise, your taxes are newly huge and unexpected”. Maybe so but before I jump in, I need details. Not that it would be worth the trouble for the paltry sum I could afford to donate, but I would do my part to share and spread the word… if I could only believe in the campaign. $200,000 to buy the building? I assume they’ve been leasing it the past 30 years? Many questions. I love local business, and although we’re not rich people, we CAN afford to go out now and then and I appreciate music and culture. So seeing this thrive would be positive to me.

    Note we live in Bovey, I work in Grand Rapids. I work for an independent business that is doing well and has been since 1948. We have a Walmart, yet GR seems to thrive and grow, sometimes more than I’d like. People need to stop blaming Walmart.

    However, I like to go to Hibbing for things I can’t get in Grand Rapids. You have Radio Shack. You have JC Penny’s. You have gas that’s generally a quarter less per gallon than here.

    I LOVE to shop local when I can. However, my regular average guy household budget doesn’t always allow for that. It’s not Walmart that’s the trouble, but either the internet, or high local prices. Two examples this past couple weeks. I decided to have a hitch installed on my SUV. Ford Dealer quotes me a flat $250 to install, and $279 for the hitch. L&M quoted me $269 for the hitch, $50 for the install. A quick internet search for the EXACT same hitch, made by the SAME company was $160 from place in the cities that sent it to me with NO shipping charge. I Paid L&M $50 to install it and saved $109. Oh, and it was delivered to my house from Burnsville in less than 24 hours. Then I needed two new boat trailer tires and rims. Best price in I could find in town was $79 each at L&M, $85 each at Walmart (yes, L&M beat Walmart) but L&M was out of them. A quick check on Amazon got me the SAME EXACT TIRES AND RIMS for $70 for THE PAIR INCLUDING SHIPPING. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to pay more than double just to shop local.

    But really, you can’t compare retail shopping to a dining/culture experience. I’m just not finding enough about the Zimmy’s situation to convince me to chip in yet. Grand Rapids seems to do well year after year with the Judy Garland Festival and she only lived here till she was 4 years old. Hardly the influence on her that Hibbing had on Bob. Maybe by it’s very nature the Bob fest must be a bit more laid back.

    Watching and waiting.

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