First Look: Duke Albert

Over the summer, a new lifestyle boutique quietly opened its doors near the corner of Central and Lowry avenues in Northeast Minneapolis. Named for the two owners’ fathers, Duke Albert offers a casual-chic mix of home goods, apothecary items, leather goods, jewelry, coffee table books and magazines, greeting cards, and vintage clothing.

The new store rose from the ashes of Arrow, the beloved North Loop designer clothing store that closed last summer after a four-year run. The new concept was founded by two Arrow alums, co-owner Sarah Dwyer (also of the shuttered Minneapolis designer clothing retailer, Intoto) and creative director Christopher Drees (known for his spectacular window displays). Like Intoto, Arrow specialized in designer labels, such as L’Agence, Rachel Comey, Mother Denim, MSGM, and Steven Alan for women and Paul Smith, Rogan, Common Projects, and Relwen for men—brands that were difficult to find the Twin Cities at the time.

Duke Albert marks a departure for the duo in that designer clothing is no longer front and center (although there are a couple of racks of groovy thrifted apparel from local vintage peddler, Moth Oddities, for sale).

“I didn’t want to open up another clothing store because I was tired of the way the business works,” says Dwyer. “It’s hard to order things six months ahead of time, and then have it only be good for about six weeks before you have to mark it down and get rid of it.”

Instead, the majority of the store’s merchandise is stocked with unique gifts and home goods from independent designers and artists from Minnesota and all over the world, which Dwyer and Drees culled from Instagram, blogs, and visits to boutiques on the West Coast.

“After Arrow, we were thinking about what we wanted to do, and did a lot of traveling,” explains Drees. “Most of the products we carry are from small new brands that aren’t necessarily found in Minneapolis.”

Among the unique offerings are leather skulls by Brooklyn design studio Heavy Eyes; custom-made leather accessories by Minneapolis maker Danielle Sakry; and horsehair tassels wrapped in colorful thread inspired by Middle Eastern talismans (which can be used as wall hangings) by Brooklyn-based design duo Fredericks & Mae. The store also sells jewelry by Minneapolis-based Larissa Loden, high-end candles in porcelain vessels rimmed in 22k gold, Moroccan handmade leather hassocks, and felt rugs in the shape of a bear.

“As far as price points go, we wanted to have a mix of high, low, and mid-priced for variety, especially for this neighborhood, which is very much up-and-coming,” says Drees. The burgeoning intersection is also home to other new businesses such as Analace Coffee, Costa Blanca Bistro, Fair State Brewing, and Aki’s Bread Haus.

The store, which plans to host a grand opening party in September, gets an added visual boost thanks to the chalkboard wall artistry of branding and marketing agency Impulse Creative (known for their chalkboard mural menus at Norseman Distillery), which operates out of the back of the space.

Now open. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.–5 p.m. 2516 Central Ave. NE., Minneapolis,

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