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Aberdeen Can Boost Downtown Housing by Shuttering Strip Joint

Elisa Sand reports that the Knight Foundation has given Aberdeen $20K to see how suitable the upper floors of our august downtown buildings are for housing. Heidi Appel, Aberdeen Downtown Association exec, appears to understand that mixing upstairs residential and downtown commercial uses is good downtown policy:

“We know people want to be downtown,” she said.

…Appel cited two projects that will create new apartments on Main Street, including a renovation project at 321 S. Main St. that will be completed later this year and a recently completed project at 224 S. Main.

“All in all, I think this will help us in bringing property investment downtown,” Appel said.

In theory, she said, income from second-story apartments can help offset the cost of owning a downtown building.

While any type of development is positive for the community, Appel said second-story apartments don’t require added infrastructure like roads or utility lines.

“It should hold a better value for the city,” she said [Elisa Sand, “Second-Story Development Being Assessed,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.10].

Aberdeen apparently is learning from Sioux Falls that downtown housing is essential to rejuvenating urban core business areas.

The Downtown Association has another golden—or at least silver—opportunity to boost Main Street: buy the Silver Dollar strip joint and shut it down:

Owners Marissa and Trish Jondahl have put the business up for sale at $775,000. The sale is listed through Re/Max Preferred Choice in Aberdeen.

According to the real estate listing, the Silver Dollar “is a currently operating gentleman’s club, historical in the city” [Elisa Sand, “Silver Dollar up for Sale,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.11].

Ah, realtors and their euphemisms. “Gentlemen” do not exploit women and pay money for sexual arousal. “Historical” overstates the club’s longevity, which Marissa Johndal puts at over 40 years.

The Johndals and the realtors will likely say nothing about the historical note that two Silver Dollar patrons got in a fight that led to one man’s death right outside the strip club in May. Ah, but as the owners were quick to point out after Bradley Quist’s arrest for killing Ronald Witchey, that death didn’t take place on their property:

“We are saddened to lose a regular of ours,” Trish Jondahl said of Witchey. “We also want people to know that this did not occur in the bar and had nothing to do with the employees or the bar. It happened outside the old Natural Abundance building.”

The bar and the former store’s building are located next to each other.

Jondahl confirmed that Quist was also a regular of the Silver Dollar Bar. She also confirmed that at some point both men had been in the Silver Dollar Bar earlier that night. [Scott Waltman and Kelda Pharris, “Update: Aberdeen Man Charged with Manslaughter After Overnight Death,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.05.30].

Two of your patrons get in a fight, one ends up dead within crawling distance of your door, and you slag another business by associating the killing with their name—again, far from gentlemanly.

On the faintly less dim side, the female owners are giving up the nudie bar because they’d rather take care of their own daughters than exploit other people’s daughters:

Marissa Jondahl said she and Trish Jondahl have had a few life changes recently that factored into the sale, including the arrival of two daughters in the last 16 months.

“At this point in time, the bar needs us in the evening and so do our girls, which has been the deciding factor in us passing this great place on to someone who can be there and continue to give it the love it deserves,” she said [Sand, 2015.07.11].

“Love” is another euphemism for what Silver Dollar patrons seek. Folks who love downtown would buy the Silver Dollar, tear out the pole and other misogynist accoutrements, and open a business that won’t deter the creation of other downtown businesses and apartments and doesn’t require Aberdonians to make excuses for that block of Main Street.


  1. mike from iowa 2015-07-11 10:10

    I thought all strippers were college age girls working their way through college by stripping. I have seen advertisements for such employment. The koch bros need to become better sugar duddies and pay more tuitions for more college age women so they don’t have to shame themselves in public,thusly.

  2. Mrs. Nelson 2015-07-11 10:56

    I”ll be glad to see the Dirty Peso gone. No college girls stripping here – they “import” them from other states. Used to walk past it, during daylight hours and get called names and accosted by their “gentleman” patrons, at 3pm. And bar close was worse. Didn’t matter how drunk you were – if you were a smart woman you stayed far and away from that place in the dark hours of the night.

  3. David Newquist 2015-07-11 12:24

    The Silver Dollar is the last of many outlets of the titillation industry in downtown (and elsewhere) in Aberdeen. One of them featured male strippers. Many of the actual buildings have been demolished. The Silver Dollar was in the space now occupied by the Blackstone Building and was next door to the Labor Temple. One campaign, the Brown County Democrats rented the Labor Temple as the campaign headquarters, and we provided an escort service for the women volunteers to guide them safely through Silver Dollar clientele. When there were many exotic dancer bars, as they were referred to, the city commission (before the council form of government) passed a pastey ordinance because of the prevalence of exposed nipples. It all provided great fun for the April Fools edition of the student newspaper at Northern.

    It was a thriving economic development factor, and did, indeed, attract a labor force from outside the state.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-11 18:53

    The hottest thing in building for the past 5 years at least is apartments with retail on the bottom floor in downtown. That’s exactly what Sand and the Knight Foundation are talking about.

    The strip joint? Clear it out, disinfect it from top to bottom, especially where the misogynistic sleeze balls were. Icky. Then pass an ordinance forbidding any such type of business again.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-12 07:59

    Economic development? Well for Pete’s sake, let’s get some EB-5 investment money and help someone buy and expand the Silver Dollar! Benda and Bollen may have made some connections with the Filipino strip club market when they went on their EB-5 recruitment trips. This could be bigger than Hyperion!

    It would appear from Nelson’s and Newquist’s stories that the only thing historic about the Silver Dollar is its historic disrespect for women. We should be glad the cognitive/moral dissonance for its current female owners apparently finally became too much to bear.

  6. Porter Lansing 2015-07-13 13:02

    It’s not diversity unless some of it is disagreeable.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-13 14:52

    Ah, Porter, you slip into the fallacy of thinking diversity is an absolute value. Some diversity is good; some diversity is bad.

    I don’t want diversity on my dinner plate: I want everything to taste good.

    I don’t want diversity in housing quality: I want everyone in town to have a good sturdy house.

    I don’t want diversity on my radio dial: I want to hear nothing but quality programming with no commercial interruptions (South Dakota Public Radio—Your Sound Alternative!)

    I don’t want diversity in my marriage: I want to go to bed with the same woman every night for the rest of my life.

    Some things that are different are also offensive. The mere claim of difference by some criterion does not automatically confer merit.

    Aberdeen’s Main Street will be better if the strip club is replaced by a less morally objectionable, less exploitative business. Aberdeen’s Main Street will be better if someone buys the bar, levels it, and plants a tree.

  8. bearcreekbat 2015-07-13 17:20

    I wonder if it a bit misogynistic to declare a lawful profession engaged in by women “morally objectionable” and “exploitative.”

    If an adult woman voluntarily chooses to work as a legal “stripper,” do you think she is an immoral person or behaving in an immoral manner? Why should a woman be condemned or labeled “immoral” if she decides that she wants to engage in any lawful endeavor or profession?

    And if an adult woman decides this is what she would like to do, is she being “exploited” by her employer any more than an adult man who chooses to become a teacher is “exploited” by his employer?

    While there is no meaningful argument that any woman should be forced to engage in such activities against her will (just as no man should be forced to teach French against his will), it seems awfully archaic to suggest that today’s women cannot choose to be a lawful stripper without being labeled an immoral person who is not capable of deciding a “proper” vocation.

    Simply because this lawful vocation might not appeal to everyone, or even the majority of folks, that doesn’t seem to support calling the women who voluntarily choose to do it, her employer, or the customers who appreciate it, immoral. Unless one agrees with the Biblical teachings that make women inferior to men, and that nudity or sexual activity is a sin, it seems a bit presumptuous to label these folks as immoral.

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