New Ulm boutique Semblance is not your typical small-town Minnesota shop. Nestled amidst the historic town’s German gift shops, the design-oriented boutique looks like a Pinterest lover’s dream made reality. Architectural clothing from independent designers hangs against gallery-like white walls, and handcrafted candles in minimalist packaging are displayed next to green plants and modern lifestyle magazines. Despite being located nearly two hours southwest of the Twin Cities, the shop has slowly developed a reputation for having quality specialty pieces that can’t be found anywhere else in the state.
Recently, shop owner Bobbi Barron opened a second location in Mankato on the east riverfront of the Minnesota River 80 miles from Minneapolis and 40 miles from New Ulm. It is sharing the storefront with another New Ulm boutique, Gallery 512. A wall was constructed in the middle of the space with a glass-frame door, “so you could see each other’s spaces from each side,” says Barron.
At nearly 900 square feet, the Mankato space is slightly smaller than Semblance’s 1,200-square-foot New Ulm storefront, giving it a more intimate feel than its predecessor. The merchandise selection is similar to the New Ulm store, but skewed toward showcasing even more independent designers with additions including REIFhaus of Portland, Oregon; Brooklyn’s Revisited Matters; Yoke’s Ayurveda Apothecary of Venice, California; and L.A.’s Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, as well as St. Louis Park’s That Soap Shop and Twin Cities clothing lines House of Gina Marie, ACG, and Joeleen Torvick.
“Our goal is to carry at least if not more than 50-percent independent designers,” Barron says. “We are really interested in creating a shop that is a place for artists, designers, and shoppers to explore fashion in both an ethical and stylish way. We really hope to grow that concept in Mankato.” • shopsemblance.com