For the several days that The Last Place on Earth closed due to owner Jim Carlson’s arrest, Duluth businesses saw a noticeable change to the downtown atmosphere. “It was heavenly,” said Mark Frederickson, the chief financial officer at ShelDon, a printing business nearby The Last Place on Earth. “It was the way you expected downtown to be.”
After a few chaotic weeks and several arrests, The Last Place on Earth remains open for business. Carlson was released from jail after his hearing in Minneapolis on April 8.
The first arrest occurred on March 29, when Carlson and his son, Jamie Anderson, were arrested on charges of selling a product that contained illegal chemicals. After spending the weekend in jail, both posted bail, and Carlson had the store open that Tuesday.
Businesses nearby The Last Place on Earth had many negative things to say about the store and the clientele it attracts.
According to Frederickson, when The Last Place on Earth is closed, ShelDon can see upwards of $3,000 in daily walk-in business. When The Last Place on Earth is open, that number drops to around $500, he said.
One day after Carlson posted bail, he was arrested on federal gun charges. Anderson kept the store open during Carlson’s second stint in lock up.
“It was the same crazy stuff,” said Lindsey Anderson, a hostess at Tycoons, another business down the street from The Last Place on Earth.
These events are just the most recent in Duluth’s long ordeal with The Last Place on Earth.
In January, the business was brought up on a nuisance charge that required Carlson to pay for two police officers to patrol the area from one hour before the store opens until the store closes. The officers cost Carlson $34,000 a month, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
Frederickson said that while having officers outside helps the downtown businesses, it’s worse for the city as a whole.
“It used to be [Last Place on Earth customers] would line up, buy their stuff, get high, and then loiter around the area,” Frederickson said. “Now they scatter around the city instead of just staying here.”
In a supplement to his 2013 State of the City address, Mayor Don Ness called The Last Place on Earth, “a burden on our city.” He expressed a desire for the courts to move forward for the sake of downtown businesses.
Late last year, Carlson, his girlfriend, Lava Haugen, Anderson, and employee, Joseph Gellerman, were indicted on multiple charges. The court date is set for September.