January: Never the favorite month in the retail world. After the make-or-break intensity of the holidays, the new year typically brings news of store closings. In the Twin Cities, the first credible rumors began swirling today: Macy's is likely to shutter its long-suffering downtown St. Paul store. My old newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press broke the news—not yet confirmed by Macy's— this afternoon. The writing has been on the wall since the day the department store formerly known as Dayton's signed a deal with the city of St. Paul back in 2001. St. Paul contributed $6.3 million to remodel the store, in exchange for a promise to keep it open through 2012. Welcome to 2013. I worked down the street from the St. Paul store for a decade. I am always drawn to my nearest retail option, and indeed, I occasionally ate at the River Room, the only remaining corner of the store with any lingering sense of rich history or magic, from an era when coming downtown to buy your finery was an event. Heimie's Haberdashery has done a much better job of recapturing that glory than Macy's ever did. I was a regular at the frozen yogurt counter and the third floor candy department for mid-afternoon candy fixes. But rarely could I do my shopping at the St. Paul Macy's—even when I was in a rush to buy a gift, or a pining for a wardrobe pick-me-up, it was a struggle to find much of anything at the sparsely merchandised store, and throughout my years in St. Paul, I watched the store shrink and the selection go from bad to worse—as if they were simply hunkered down, waiting out that contract. Not unlike last January, when Macy's Inc. announced the closing of Bloomingdale's at Mall of America, there's the question of which came first: the lousy store or the lack of traffic. St. Paul, unlike MOA, has always struggled to draw shoppers, and the dearth of specialty stores around Macy's certainly didn't help. Still, it's a big loss for St. Paul, and one that is unlikely to be filled by another store.