Charlie's Bazaar in Alexandria makes a comeback

The home decor business was one of six businesses lost in a downtown fire in Alexandria on February 25, 2020.

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Crews prep the site that will once again become home to Charlie's Bazaar. The store, owned by Charlie Vernlund and located along Broadway Street in downtown Alexandria between 5th and 6th Avenues, burned down in a fire on Feb. 25, 2020. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Out of the ashes of a devastating downtown fire in Alexandria 17 months ago, Charlie's Bazaar is making a comeback.

Workers are busy doing foundation work this week for Charlie's Bazaar at its former location at 508 Broadway.

"We're excited to see all the construction activity taking place at the site," said Charlie Vernlund, who owns the home decor business.

There's no firm timetable yet for when the new store will open, Vernlund said

This past spring, the city issued a commercial building permit to Vernlund to construct a new single-story building.


The permit estimates the cost of the project at $375,000. The contractor is Ryan Grewe Construction and it's being designed by Ringdahl Architects.

The lot at Fifth Avenue and Broadway once housed four historic buildings, six businesses and apartment units, but that all came to a crashing halt on February 25, 2020, when an early morning fire reduced them to rubble. Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the fire but believe it started on the north wall of a kitchen area.

The debris from the buildings that once housed Charlie’s Bazaar, Raapers Eatery and Ale, RM Tattoo, Little Darlings Children’s Boutique, Achieve Wellness and Hidden Treasures Collectibles and Comics was hauled away in the spring of 2020.

In their place is a vacant prime piece of property in the heart of downtown.

But now, there is finally some activity taking place. Vernlund is the first business owner to seek a building permit at the fire site.

For 21 years, Charlie’s Bazaar sold home decor, clothing, bags and jewelry. Shortly before the fire, Vernlund and her business partner, Melody Warren, installed a new roof, painted inside and had just received their spring inventory.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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