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Several new businesses open in downtown Duluth

Eric Franklin has opened XMT-3 Training Studio at 30 W. First St. in Duluth. Facebook photo1 / 2
The Common Apparel storefront on East Superior Street in Duluth. (Clint Austin / / 2

Storefronts change with the seasons some years, and this spring and summer have seen some new arrivals in the downtown business scene. Here's a look at a few recent moves and openings.

Solve Entertainment

Duluth's first escape room has a new home in a newly refashioned building as Solve Entertainment is now open at 120 E. Superior St. Situated above Blacklist Artisan Ales, the live-action puzzle business is currently offering the "Vanishing Act" mystery game for players to solve in groups of four to six.

"We are creating immersive and interactive entertainment experiences, and from the moment you step inside our new space, you'll forget the outside world exists," Matthew Wagner, director of production and design, said in a news release.

The company first opened as a pop-up late in 2015 and got a huge response from its initial two games. The appetite for escape rooms prompted another such business, Zero Hour, to open last fall on First Street.

"Part game, part theater and part team-building exercise, live-action adventure entertainment experiences are surging in popularity around the world," reads the news release.

Solve can be reached at (218) 302-5434, at or at

XMT-3 Training Studio

Eric Franklin gained enough clients through his personal training business in the past two years that he needed somewhere besides his residence for the business to call home. XMT-3 Training Studio is now open at 30 W. First St. downtown, though anyone passing by the storefront may have noticed Franklin's muscular form covering the windows — that's to help with privacy as much as promote the business.

"What if there was a place that offered adequate space, free weights, machines and no interference between trainer and client? Cue XMT-3 Training Studio," said a news release. "Inside XMT-3 Training, users will experience a traditional gym equipment along with plenty of space for body weight and balancing exercises."

With the recent entry of another personal trainer down the street at Time IV Fitness, the corridor between the YMCA and XMT-3 is increasingly a hub for fitness-focused businesses on First and Superior streets.

Franklin also offers mobile training around Duluth and Superior and earlier this year starting traveling to the Iron Range once a week. XMT-3 can be reached at (218) 310-2533, at and at

Common Apparel

Nate Blomquist started Common Apparel while in high school in 2010, but today the company is all about "we."

"We pride ourselves on being a collective movement of friends who identify through skate, snow, film, photography and travel," the clothing company says on its website. "We built up a strong and passionate Common community in Duluth."

The hats, hoodies and T-shirts bearing handmade Common logos and designs now have a retail location in Duluth after selling online and through skate shops around the country. Common joins a number of apparel makers in Duluth, though the focus on skate and snow culture helps it stand out.

Production has moved from basements to a space above a liquor store to an indoor skate park that closed this winter to the gleaming space above Lake Superior Art Glass that Common Apparel moved into this spring. (The Carter, as the skatepark venue was called, donated its skate bowl to The Encounter in February.)

"It has been a crazy journey, but we wouldn't change it," the brand says. "All of the people we met along the way enabled us to get to where we are today."

Common Apparel is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at 202 E. Superior St. Find the store online at and at

Giant Voices

Marketing firm Giant Voices has remade the former hardware store at 212 W. Superior St. in its image, adding colorful window wraps and and modern, collaborative touches inside.

"Everything came together perfectly. We are beyond thrilled with our new space," CEO Pascha Apter said in a press release. "We were bursting at the seams in Canal Park, and the new office will enhance our capacity to serve our Giant clients."

Pascha and Lisa Bodine founded the company in 2011 and opened the 6,600-square-foot downtown office in May. The remodel added new conference rooms, common areas, a fitness room, a kitchen and a hand-painted mural of the Duluth skyline, which Giant Voices now finds itself inside of.

"We are excited to join so many great businesses downtown," Apter said.

Reach Giant Voices at (218) 722-7884 and at

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

(218) 723-5329