Thursday, August 20, 2009

Uncle Lennie's Store Offers Organic Weeds and Locally Made Trash to the North Minneapolis Community...

Photos by JNS Field Correspondent

by Jordan Neighbor
JNS Guest Blogger

The JNS International Headquarters received a Hot Tip in the comment section of an earlier post. The commenter mentioned that weeds and trash have begun to spring up from the Spring Board Economic Development Corp's newest property.

A field corespondent was dispatched immediately. The images captured this morning are here for the readers to view, including an exclusive image of Slummy the Squirrel who was interviewed. The story is that Slummy the Squirrel was supposed to be over at Mr. Slummy's Hole to China, cleaning up the debris and getting in compliance with the City's inspection orders. But he was too lazy to do the work and he heard there was a pile of trash in the alley behind Uncle Lennie's so he scampered over to ch-ch-ch-check it out for himself. He was hoping to find free alley nuts instead of having to actually WORK for the cache of nuts that Mr. Slummy was offering.

Unfortunately, while Slummy the Squirrel was gone, a hard working City crew was dispatched to Mr. Slummy's operation to do the clean up work that was left behind by the slacking, slummy squirrel and the slimy, slummy property owner.

(Do not click "Read More" but Do check out the Next Post)


Anonymous said...

Did you know that in China the kids say they are digging a hole to America? Yes it is true.

Anonymous said...

Are we supposed to believe that Lennie Chism dumped on the property? Oh please. That is a clean out from another property that people dumped.

Anonymous said...

Well, we getting what the community wants. A vacant lot right? My property value suffers just as much from vacant lots and boarded up buildings. That lot will join the 3 across the street. What is the solution - any developer on the way?

Margaret said...

I wonder what happened to the brand new tree that looked like it was about to be planted in the boulevard or somewhere on the property a few weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Nice photos! I hope Slummy Squirrel doesn't washes his hands after cavorting on Uncle Lennie's garbage (which appears to have been emptied out of the prostitute apartments above Uncle Bill's).

I especially like the photos that show in the background the nicely maintained apartment lawn across the street and the nicely maintained city-owned lot across the other street. Also, in the city lot, note the great NOMI/Artist Cluster sign, which has done so much to help move distressed properties in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1139pm - doesn't matter where the trash came from - it's the owners responsibility to maintain the property. One might think that with this property being under such scrutiny, Uncle Lennie might be more diligent. Not a good sign of what he has in store. Not to mention the property that he supposedly owns at 26th/Emerson where the phone books has been sitting on the front steps for months, still in it's bright yellow plastic bag.

Anonymous said...

the junk appeared a just few weeks ago--AFTER Lennie Chism purchased the property. part of being a business owner is taking responsibility for the junk that magically "appears" on your property.

Anonymous said...

The vacant lots don't attract gangs the way Uncle Lennie's convenience store (featuring Cub food at jacked-up prices) will. Those who pro-convenience stores should open them on their own blocks, rather than inflicting them on other people's blocks.

Anonymous said...


I go by this corner twice a day--I remember you mentioning having seen the tree, but I never saw it, so it must have been there only briefly. Are you sure it didn't belong to Asian Media Access next door? They've been doing some construction recently.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Mickey's doesn't have a gang problem? Is the building or the owner in control of the gang problems? Do you have jobs for the gang bangers which Uncle Lennie is proposing?

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 8:37: Lennie hadn't yet shared that he was specifically intending to hire hard core gang bangers to operate the store. Thanks for sharing this part of his business plan.

However, this is not good news for our neighborhood youth, who were the most frequent victims of the gang activity at the store. How many neighbors' kids were robbed at gunpoint for a game card, a cell phone, or a few dollars when they made the mistake of stopping by the store for a soda.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:37am said:
Do you have jobs for the gang bangers which Uncle Lennie is proposing?

The NOMI Squirrel says:
I wasn't aware Lennie was planning on hiring gang bangers to work at his store. Little bits and pieces of his "master plan" seem to continually slip-out on an ongoing basis.

However, none of it, including anything past what has verbaly been said by Lennie himself, has been verified, or put in writing. Which, with my infinite squirrel wisdom, I am sure is the way you're supposed to go about it.

It goes something like this:

1) you get a great idea
2) you do the required analysis fact checking to make sure the plan is feasible, to include lining up all the costs associated with the start-up
3) write a business plan and line-up the required financial backers (typically done in two stages)
4) you obtain the necessary community support
5) bring the plan to fruition after the construction build-out phase

I am left scratching my furry head on this one, as it appears Lennies' decided to skip everything in between having an idea and opening the business.

Yet somehow, we're all supposed to believe that he'll get around to performing all the "stuff" in between having an idea and opening a business.

The NOMI Squirrel

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:37:

"Does anyone know why Mickey's doesn't have a gang problem?"

Maybe the same reason Mickey's doesn't have a weed and junk problem--perhaps the owner of Mickey's doesn't agree with Uncle Lennie that business owners have zero responsibility for maintaining their property. Perhaps one day Uncle Lennie can aspire keep up his property as well as the owner of Mickey's (a depressing and ragged liquor store) does. Maybe Uncle Lennie can go through this learning curve on YOUR block.

Anonymous said...

311 rocks Uncle Lennie's! A city crew just came and removed the junk that has been sitting behind Uncle Lennie's for several weeks.

Anonymous said...

What do yall suggest now that we have another vacant lot on the northside? What's next?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:21 says:
What do yall suggest now that we have another vacant lot on the northside? What's next?

The NOMI Squirrel says:
I suggest we work on attracting VIABLE developers to fill the other vacant commercial properties. Just like other well-balanced neighborhoods do.

Unless of course you're on of those that suggests that African Americans shouldn't live in well-balanced neighborhoods. I can say that and still be politically correct 'cause I'm a squirrel as you well know....

Good riddance to Unncle Lennies' pipe-dream. Too bad he wasn't able to put together a more realistic plan.

The NOMI Squirrel

veg*nation said...

i'm perfectly happy to have a vacant lot. if there is a water connection left on the property, it could make a nice garden. since Lennie is concerned about healthy food in the neighborhood, maybe he will be willing to work with the neighbors in order to set up a community garden on the site.

to the "vacant-lot hater" out there: believe it or not, not every inch of the earth has to be paved over in order for God to be happy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if Uncle Lennie owns the lot, cant he stop any development unless they are willing to fork over some dollars to buy it from him? Wait, will all the light rail plans, that lot will be valuable property. Uncle Lennie could leave that lot vacant forever.

The Mortgage Geek said...

Lennie won't keep the vacant lot forever. He couldn't keep his own business building out of foreclosure for a measly $35,000. The demo assessment ALONE will be more than that on this property.

Assuming he doesn't sell first, it will take a few years, but the place will go into tax forfeiture.

I am going to call out some of the rumors on this thread, however. If the Cub Foods rumor winds up being true I guess that wouldn't surprise me. But until a commenter posts something like, "I spoke with Lennie at this location and time and he said..." or "At such-and-such a meeting, Lennie or a partner disclosed..." then it's just a rumor.

And the hiring of gang bangers rumor is a real stretch--plenty wrong with that one. Once again, can anyone substantiate it?

I appreciate the free speech that happens on this blog, but let's not abuse it.

Don Allen said...

"The high cost of Black Address."

Anonymous said...

Lennie provided the information that Cub Foods was his secret discount supplier. The guest blogger has the details, but I've requested that he/she not post the information publicly, at the source's request.

My interpretation (although I don't know) of the posts picking up on Lennie's supporter's claim that Lennie was going to hire gang bangers was that they were making fun of the supporter's claim by pretending to take it literally.

The Mortgage Geek said...

@ Anon 8:45

Thanks for the clarification, and I understand folks' desire to keep certain things, well, anonymous.

If people like you say that Lennie has the information about Cub being his supplier in some way (which I can only summarize with this link: then I invite Lennie or his supporters to comment as to the validity of such a claim.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that Uncle Lennie had a wholesale distribution agreement with Cubs Foods, as Cub Foods is grocery retailer.

It is possible that he may have had a distribution agreement with Cub's parent companya - Supervalu, although Supervalu does not typically service stores the size of what Lennie was proposing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Lennie believed that he had an "informal" arrangement to buy in bulk from the manager of Cub, who may or may not have been informed that Lennie intended to re-sell the products. Who knows.

Margaret said...

Anon 11:39, I thought it might be the Asian Access property's tree although it was closer to the Lennie Chism property. It is nowhere to be seen from the front of either property now. I drive by there twice a day now too. Today it looked like somebody had removed some of the boards from the door.

Margaret said...

Anon 8:54, the Bottineau Line (LRT) is unlikely to use Plymouth Rd. It's most likely going to use Lowry/West Broadway. So I don't think the price will increase in value due to transit.

Johnny Northside said...

In regard to the boards being removed from the door of "Uncle Lennie's" financial fiasco...

Word is Chipper The Entrepreneurial Squirrel made some kind of deal with the Willard Haywood Woodchuck for some the woodchuck could chuck wood. That's where the boards went.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Lennie &/or his friends didn't burn this building down 40 years ago when they toasted all the rest of Plymouth Ave. Anyone know?

The idea that members of the same crew who destroyed Plymouth Ave. could possibly have any understanding of what it means to revitalize Plymouth Ave. is preposterous. We have 40 years of history to prove it.

The building should sit vacant until the city bulldozes it. Lennie & his friends should go clean up the garbage and keep it clean regardless what is or isn't happening on the property.

But, alas... how can we ever expect something so reasonable out of Lennie and his ilk? They are destroyers, not creators.

Anonymous said...

to Anon 8:05: I don't think there's any reason to believe that Lennie was involved in or approved of the burning of Plymouth Avenue businesses, or any reason to suspect that he runs with any particular "ilk," whatever that means.

Nevertheless, it does strike me as disingenuous when he tries to argue that if you liked the way Plymouth Ave. was before the riots, that then you must necessarily approve of his ill-conceived "plan" for the property.

Anonymous said...

Recent posts brought to mind something I read late last year.
So... from the archives of the WHOmail distribution list comes a solicitation from Makeda, and Lennie's response. Judge for yourself how Lennie feels about the rioting that destroyed Plymouth Ave.

From Makeda Zulu-Gillespie
dateTue, Dec 30, 2008 at 7:06 PM
subject[WHO mail] Your input is needed to create a timeline - Please share your memories!

The Urban Research and Outreach/ Engagement Center is working to create a time line of people who have been important or instrumental in the Northside and well as Minneapolis and in Minnesota - people who have had an effect in a positive or negative way. This will be used during the Future's conference. Some examples include Jesse Ventura - Governor from 1999 - 2003, Sharon Sayles-Belton as the first African American and woman Mayor, Marcea Bland Staten Lloyd - Political strategist or Sister Jean of Ascension these are names to jog your memory. Names should cover the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s up until now. Can you send your responses by the end of this week, Friday, January 2nd at 3:00? Please list names and year. Feel free to pass this on to others.
Thanks for your help.
Makeda Zulu-Gillespie
Community Liaison
Urban Research Outreach and Engagement Center/ University Northside Partnership

Lennie's response:

toMakeda Zulu-Gillespie
dateWed, Dec 31, 2008 at 4:57 AM
subjectRe: [WHO mail] Your input is needed to create a timeline - Please share your memories!

Here is a submission - but they have not names, but a group. The group of individuals who possessed the courage to riot in 1968 on the Northside, the ready to die brothers and sisters with that courage to take a stand for a cause to create the path enjoyed by Barack Obama. Where might you put them in your timeline? What will their names faces fit in your timeline?
Makeda, I want you to not forget they, the group of ready to die brothers and sisters, created the opportunities that Whitney Young used to create job opportunities for the Negros of today. How will your timeline show their contribution when they have no names?
Did they not open doors for Van White, Sharon Sayles Belton, Don Samuels, and yourself?
Its is my opinion that no timeline created to show North Minneapolis or the history of Minnesota is complete without the recognition of the "Ready to Die Brothers and Sisters" of the 1968 Riots.

Lennie Chism

Anonymous said...

The weeds in front of Uncle Lennie's STILL aren't mowed. They must be two feet high by now. If this is how he's decided to keep up his property during the time when he's trying to convince the neighborhood that he's NOT an irresponsible con artist who can't keep his properties out of foreclosure, just imagine how how compliant with city ordinances and responsive to the community he's going to be once he has his convenience store established.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 3:54: lol! i vaguely remembered the exchange, but i didn't remember that it was lennie who wanted the city to publicly commemorate the rioters who burned down the businesses on plymouth ave. if that's the way he feels, fine, but then don't go around a few months later piously "teaching" people that that there used to be thriving businesses on plymouth avenue (quelle surprise! thank you, lennie for teaching us all about it!), and that this history somehow supports his convenience store boondoggle.

Anonymous said...

And this is who Professional Victim Don Allen demands that we give the city council seat to--someone who can't even manage his own finances, much less mow the lawn. I guess I can understand better now why Mr. Allen is a Republican--it's important to him that we elect officials who will run the economy into the ground, and who is adamantly opposed to the concept of personal responsibility in any and all contexts. Also, he apparently believes that the GOP is the party of racial equality, as evidenced by the fine sensibilities of his heroes Michelle Bachmann, Dick Cheney, and Sarah Palin.