First look: Water on Water

A retail renaissance has been underway at the Lake Minnetonka-bordering town of Excelsior, with at least half a dozen new storefronts opening over the past year. The latest is Water on Water, a stationery and gift shop with a lakeside aesthetic that quietly opened a month ago.

Proprietor Nessa Sander opened the store after a recent move back to the Twin Cities after stints running storefronts in San Francisco and Oregon. She still owns her Oregon shop, the Grove, which like Water on Water, is located on a lakeside town, and brought along a number of Oregon-made goods along with her, including hip brass-toned jewelry by Elizabeth Lefler and wool blankets by Sackcloth + Ashes (which donates a blanket to a local homeless shelter with every purchase). She’s already begun adding products from local makers, such as Excelsior Candle Co., Minnesota Awesome’s cheeky “Hey Babe” Babe the Blue Ox t-shirts and tanks, Adam Turman pint glasses, wood watches by Bottom of My Sleeve, and handmade Norway and Sweden wood flag signs by young Minnetonka woodworker Blake Eitreim. Sander plans to slowly add more products in the coming months, avoiding the kinds of mass-produced products found at gift markets in favor of handmade and small-batch goods. “I’m trying to pick things that are unique and different that you can’t just get anywhere,” she says.

The shop also doubles as an outpost for Sander’s stationery business, the Card Bar, which Sander has run for 13 years. It offers custom wedding invitations, holiday cards, and more, pressed on the 1885 letterpress machine that sits in the corner of the shop.

Now open, 40 Water St., Excelsior, 503-953-4056,,