Make a Difference: Shop Local

I’ve been buying all my gifts at local, independent shops; will you join me, please?

North LoopNorth Loop Map

Here’s a way you can make a difference this season with your holiday shopping—and it’s not what you think. (Of course you should donate to a worthy cause—but you knew that, right?) It’s the decision to shop local. 

It’s not easy to change shopping habits. But it does have a big impact on the neighborhoods we live in and the livelihoods of the people who live there. Not to mention, the price points are often comparable to places you may be used to shopping—and the customer service at boutiques is often second to none. We have such marvelous shopping, concentrated into darling little districts across the metro area, that it was hard to narrow it down to the few examples that would fit on these pages. This past year, I’ve committed to shopping local, independent businesses for all my gifts—and they’ve been hits! So I wanted to share some of my secrets with you. Going to scout the shops for ideas left me brimming with excitement—and a lot of to-dos and to-buys crossed off my list. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

I don’t mind saying that the North Loop is fast becoming our own Little Soho. Seeing a destination-shopping neighborhood pop up in such a relatively short amount of time, with such great choices, makes my style-editor heart swell. Neighborhood stalwart MartinPatrick3 underwent a huge move and then a significant expansion in the last couple of years, and sets the standard not only for men’s shopping, but also shopping in general in the Twin Cities. That strong rep has carried over into the newer high-end fashion boutique, Arrow; the Dayton brothers’ Askov Finlayson; jeweler Stacey Johnson’s lifestyle boutique, Statement; and the latest addition to the neighborhood, The Foundry Home Goods, which is impeccable in every way—but not untouchably so.  If it’s a new, notable, hip gift you’re after, you’re likely to find it in the North Loop.

Annie Larson knit hat The Foundry Home Goods storefrontmartinpatrick3 Statement

Askov Finlayson 200 N. First St., Mpls., 612-206-3925, » The Foundry Home Goods 125 N. First St., Mpls., 612-333-8484, » Martinpatrick3 212 Third Ave. N., Mpls., 612-746-5329, » Statement 212 Third Ave. N., Mpls., 651-808-7663,

Selby & SnellingSelby & Snelling map

The east side of the river is no slouch in the shopping department, either. Both the Selby-Snelling and Selby-Dale neighborhoods have experienced solid, steady growth the past few years, but it’s possible you’ve zipped right past them since both corners are heavily trafficked. Do yourself a favor and stop.

Selby-Snelling is a wonderful mix of the “old” neighborhood—Cosmic’s Coffee,  Lula Vintage Wear, Up Six—and the “new” incarnation: a giant Patina outpost, Flirt Boutique, Tennis on Selby. Coupled with a few other shops, it’s becoming a great place to cross all your gift recipients off the list—I’ve done so in the past.

Just a quick drive from there is Selby-Dale, which I predict will continue to grow. But as of right now, it’s home to one of the best boutiques in the Twin Cities: BlackBlue, which carries superlative menswear as well as a few key women’s pieces. I love how most of the items there are made in the United States, and how owner Steve Kang and his right-hand man, Satchel Moore, are so knowledgeable and friendly. Oh, and don’t forget to stop in Primp and Allee Metro Chic while you’re there!

BlackBlueFlirt BoutiquePatinaPatina

BlackBlue, 614 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-260-5340, » Flirt, 177 Snelling Sve. N., St. Paul, 651-698-3692, » Patina, 1581 Snelling Ave., St. Paul, 651-644-5444,

50th & France

edina’s 50th & france sets the precedent for  neighborhood shopping. The sprawling intersection earns its reputation for being tony and exclusive—sure, there are the Lululemon leggings and Bugaboo strollers aplenty,  but shoppers might be surprised to find that the price points aren’t entirely exclusionary. There are so many independently owned stores here that it would be a shame to miss it.

That said, if it’s the gift of a lifetime you’re after, this is still the place to get it. Walk into Bumbershute  and purchase a 3.1 Philip Lim handbag or go to Grethen House and buy that work-of-art Rick Owens leather coat, and she’ll be yours forever.

The interplay of chic, upscale boutiques and totally affordable (but no less stylish) shops is part of what makes 50th & France buzz. Gather, Heinrich & Schultz, Cooks of Crocus Hill, Paperista, and Fringe all offer thoughtful gifts at various price points. For the athletes on your list, there’s always Athleta, Prana, and Title Nine. The sheer volume of choices makes this a natural one-stop shopping experience.

Pacifier vintage cameraRoom No. 3 displayRoom No. 3 lacy undergarments Ladyslipper

Ladyslipper 4940 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-224-1900, » Pacifier 4942 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-767-6565, » Room No. 3 4948 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-746-3003,

NortheastNortheast Map

There’s no doubt that Northeast Minneapolis experienced a rebirth a few years ago, but it managed to retain its down-to-Earth, boho-cool vibe. The Godmother of All The Gift Shops, Bibelot, anchors the corner at University and East Hennepin, and a stop inside should remind everyone why Roxy Freese was here first and why everyone has tried to be like her ever since.

Just a few steps away are adorable pet-gear outfitter Bone Adventure (my dogs’ stockings will be stuffed full this Christmas), the ever-better Parc Boutique, modern-baby-gear purveyor Pacifier, and more. (Pick up some stylish consignment at GH2—it’s your reward for all this hard work!)

Just a block or so away is the cheerleader of locally made goods, I Like You. I never use the word “whimsical,” but they are, in the best sense of the word. If you want to really dig into the locally owned, locally made scene, this is one of the best ways to do so. But this just skims the surface of all the amazing artists, artisans, and shops in the area—don’t be afraid to explore!  

Parc BoutiqueBone AdventureI Like YouBibelot

Bibelot 300 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-379-9300, » Bone Adventure 312 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-378-0211, » Parc Boutique 320 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-353-4966, » I Like You 501 First Ave. N., Mpls., 612-208-0249,