HmongTown 2 Marketplace to fill in Sears site at Maplewood Mall

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After 20 years, the founder of Frogtown’s HmongTown Marketplace on Como Avenue is looking forward to a major expansion. The bustling indoor and outdoor marketplace is home to 125 Southeast Asian vendors, and Toua Xiong believes he’s found the right location to situate dozens more: the former Sears department store at the Maplewood Mall.

His vision calls for a ground-level grocery store spanning some 50,000 to 60,000 square feet, as well as smaller vendors on the second floor in what had been Sears aisles. He’s even promising a bowling alley and children’s area, and has raised the possibility of someday adding a senior center, herbal spa, farmer’s market and night market.

“It’s time for us to grow,” said Xiong, addressing viewers in an eight-minute video testimonial shared last month on the 3 Hmong TV news YouTube channel. “It’s time for us to be competitive. … I have been looking for properties that would be big enough.”

It’s unclear from Ramsey County property records when Xiong acquired the 14-acre Sears site, but Hmong Town 2 LLC, registered to his Como Avenue offices, is listed as the taxpayer of record. Seritage Growth Properties, the real estate investment company that spun off from Sears, put the vacant property on the market a year ago, alongside locations in St. Paul and Burnsville. Brookwood Capital Advisors owns the mall itself.

Xiong, in his explanatory video, can be seen touring what appears to be prospective vendors or investors through the former Sears building.

He said he’s hoping to officially open by early 2025, though some vendors could arrive earlier. St. Paul and Maplewood are home to the largest concentration of Hmong residents in the country, as well as a growing community of ethnic Karen from Myanmar (formerly Burma), among other Asian groups. More than half the state’s 95,000 Hmong residents live in Ramsey County.

Xiong is soliciting new vendors with a written form on the HmongTown Marketplace website: “HmongTown 2 is on its way! Thank you all for your continuous support over the past few decades. We are excited to announce that we will be opening a new location in Maplewood. If you are interested in possibly being a vendor, please click the button below to fill out our interest form.”

Spanning 170,000 square feet, the two-story Sears building was constructed in 1973.

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