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8 Places to Shop for Unique Valentine’s Gifts


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Japanese sweets from Tomodachi

Niki Tombaga

Instead of picking up a generic box of grocery-store chocolates or dozen red roses, think outside of the chocolates-and-flowers box. Fortunately, you don’t have to think too hard—the Twin Cities boasts an eclectic array of retailers packed with great gift ideas for guys, gals, and kiddos alike.

Tomodachi: This locally owned store specializes in Asian pop culture toys, collectibles, and stationery. It’s also the best place in town to find a wide selection of Japanese sweets, such as Green Tea Kit Kats, mochi cakes (a treat made from sweet rice and beans), Strawberry Choco Fish, and tons of varieties of hard and chewy candies to choose from. And now through Valentine’s Day, buy three Japanese sweets and receive one of equal or lesser value for free. While you’re shopping for sweets for your sweetheart, pick up some adorable stationery to write them a totally kawaii love note. 156 Rosedale Center, 651-631-1777, and Mall of America, 316 North Garden, Bloomington, 952-582-1739, tomodachi.us 

14 Hill: Founded by a longtime buyer at Patina, this new gift shop on the corner of 48th & Chicago in south Minneapolis isn’t messing around. The store’s expansive selection covers everyone on your list, from the craft-beer nut, to the home cook, to the hip hostess, and everyone in between. The store has been helpfully organized into section for kids toys and games, pets, craft beer and barware, candles and fragrances, kitchenware, and home goods, with unique items such as a whale-shaped cheese board, adult coloring books, caramels infused with black lava sea salt and ginger, and a mini Pac-Man video game. 4737 Chicago Ave. S. #2, Minneapolis, 612-886-3603, 14hill.com

flirt boutique, courtesy flirt

Flirt Boutique: This locally owned St. Paul shop specializes in luxury lingerie, making it a popular spot for Valentine's shopping since it opened in 2008. The store offers some of the most sought-after lingerie and loungewear brands from around the globe, including silk-and-lace undergarments by popular brands Cosabella and Hanky Panky, Italian line La Perla, French labels Lise Charmel and Maison Close, and sexy British brand L’Agent by Agent Provocateur, plus soft cotton pajama sets, glamorous lace-trimmed silk nightgowns, and silk sleeping masks. 177 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-698-3692, flirt-boutique.com

Mischief Toy Store: Mischief Toy Store is a screen-free venture from Dan Marshall and Millie Adelsheim, the husband-and-wife team behind Peapods Natural Toys. The couple and their four children created a new model of toy store with eclectic, unusual gifts for the hard to shop for: older kids, teens and young-at-heart adults. The store sells a unique selection of games, art supplies, pop culture, anime gifts, outdoor adventure gear, jewelry, kinetic toys, an international candy selection, and hard-to-find sodas like the elusive Japanese ramune, plus books and comics selected by the owners’ 19-year-old daughter, Abigail. 818 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-493-3307, mischieftoy.com

debut, courtesy woolrich

Debut: The Mall of America's first venture into a multi-vendor storefront, Debut, opened late last year in the mall's new north wing. The concept pairs goods from a mix of Minnesota and national brands that emphasize craftsmanship, quality, and classic style, including Askov Finlayson’s "North" hats, ball caps, and sweatshirts, plaid throws and accessories by Woolrich, heritage-inspired leather and canvas accessories by BillyKirk, upscale athleisure menswear by Todd Snyder + Champion, and Shepherd of Sweden’s cozy sheepskin slippers. Debut’s merchandise will evolve throughout the year with a rotating selection of goods and vendors. Mall of America, 125 North Garden, Bloomington, mallofamerica.com

Highcroft Home: After shuttering its original storefront, luxury linen store Lussuria Lini recently reopened as Highcroft Home. The store has maintained its predecessor’s collection of fine linens from sought-after luxury brands while adding a broad selection of home decor and accessories, loungewear, gifts, and stationery. Giftable goods include gold-tone candlestick holders, brass coasters, silk pillowcases, ceramic pitchers, hand-turned wooden spoons, blown-glass carafes, beautifully packaged soaps, hand-poured diffusers, and natural rock salt crystal potpourri, as well as a small selection of cashmere and alpaca loungewear by designer Alicia Adams and Animana, an ethical line of alpaca-wool knits by Patagonia. 770 Lake St. E., Wayzata, 952-746-5826, highcrofthome.com

russell+hazel, photo: Tj Turner

russell+hazel: When russell+hazel launched in 2003, it was a pioneer of the stylish office supplies category. When russell+hazel launched in 2003, it was a pioneer of the stylish office supplies category. In addition to its own line of stylish office supplies and a capsule line of luxe leather handbags designed in partnership with Italian designer Kara van Petrol, the store is filled with a well-curated, highly giftable selection of products. Merchandise spans modern ceramics, stylish magazines and coffee table books, one-of-a-kind jewelry, natural skincare and cosmetics, and soaps hand-carved to look like gems, plus customization and monogramming options available in its binder bars. ​219 N. Second St. #106, Minneapolis, 952-353-4149, russellandhazel.com

Pharmacie: For the design-centric person in your life, there's Phamacie, which offers a unique (and well-designed) selection of gifts in addition to its home goods. Think: brass barware shaped like modern sculpture, interlocking marble coasters, sleek gold-tone flasks, and porcelain dinnerware that can be stacked to form a building. There's also a wide selection of stylish, masculine apothecary goods, artsy t-shirts, and coffee-table-worthy books. 2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-200-9633, pharmaciempls.com

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