South Minneapolis candle store vandalized for trying to 'gentrify' the neighborhood


The Central and Powderhorn neighborhoods of south Minneapolis are among the city's most diverse.

A roughly even spread of white, black, and Hispanic people live there, with a sizable population of "Asian" or "other" rounding out the rest of the local census findings. This melting pot generally simmers along without incident. But there are a few folks uneasy with a recent crop of white professionals moving into neighborhoods that long belonged to immigrants or black Americans moving to the metro.

In late 2015, the opening of a new grocery co-op was a source of some controversy, a sign that the neighborhood was getting paler and more expensive -- perhaps enough so to price non-whites out of the area. 

And it did again over the weekend, when owners of a south Minneapolis art studio discovered someone had broken a storefront window and left graffiti in what the husband-and-wife owners are calling a "targeted crime." 

Frostbeard Studios went public with the story via a Facebook post on Sunday, saying they store had several windows smashed around 1:30 a.m. that morning.

Owners Tom and Roxie Lubanovic didn't publicize the graffiti message, but whatever it was made clear why they were being vandalized. 

"We are not a big corporation trying to gentrify the neighborhood (quite the opposite)," they wrote.  

The candle shop, previously sold out of a studio in northeast Minneapolis -- and before that, their home -- caters to bibliophiles, with a variety of products with book-themed scents. Asked in 2014 to explain their influences, the couple listed, "Books," "Nerd culture," and "Book nerds." 

In their Facebook post, the couple said whoever did this clearly doesn't know them, or understand their reasons for moving into the Southside, which they praised for its "diversity and the thriving art scene." 

That, they said, is what makes this targeted "attack surprising and upsetting." 

The post has received almost universally positive, supportive reactions, and one fan suggested starting a donation fund to help Frostbeard recover; the owners were grateful, but replied to say insurance should cover the damages.

"Please," they wrote, "if you have concerns about us or our business, talk to us. Hear our story. Don't resort to violence."

Later, they said they're trying to make the mom-and-pop candle shop a positive addition to the neighborhood. 

"Our goal is to make awesome art and bring more good to the world. We want to make a positive difference in our community, to promote literacy and education. Our studio is a welcoming, safe place for all of our neighbors."