The Shopper’s Guide to the Twin Cities

An insider’s tour of the local shopping scene, from bargain buys to classy couture

When you’re new to a place, checking out the local shopping scene is an essential pastime—even more so as holidays approach. To steer your cart in the right direction, here’s a tally of stores around town, some distinctive to Minnesota and others that were just too good to leave out. Whether you’re shopping for you or someone else, with no tax on clothing and shoes, you can’t beat the buys. Once you create your itinerary, slip on some comfy shoes (or hit the shoe store first), grab the plastic and find out what’s in store. Here’s hoping you left a little extra room in your suitcase!

The Perfect Pair

Whether you’re looking for shoes, sandals or boots made for walking, running or riding, these local and national retailers keep feet happy. Each shoe is hand-picked at the family owned and operated Bay Street Shoes (Minneapolis, 612-824-5574; Edina, 952-922-5574). For those looking for animal-friendly footwear, Heavenly Soles carries Vegetarian Shoes, which have the look and feel of leather but are 100 percent man-made (615 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, 612-822-2169). For thousands of shoes at double-digit discounts, DSW is the must-stop superstore (several metro locations, With Birkenstocks, Haflingers and UGGs, Shoes to Boot boasts stock dedicated to comfort and function (9020 Hudson Road, Woodbury, 800-382-9907). Shoe Zoo, a Minneapolis institution for more than 20 years, has the best selection for toddler tootsies (3146 Hennepin Avenue S., 612-823-3988). Those who only wrap their feet in style and luxury should head to Cole Haan (Minneapolis, 612-339-4662; Edina, 952-920-9377) or Aldo (several metro locations, When homegrown Red Wing Shoe Company first started making boots, people still rode horses to work; now their footwear is found around the world (several metro locations, Women can have their pick of Prada, Hogan or Miu Miu at Pumpz & Company (3335 Galleria, Edina, 952-926-2252).

Gifts Galore

If the first thing you hear when you return from a trip is “What did you bring me?” then it’s necessary to find the right gift shop before you leave town. The Twin Cities offer plenty of places to pick up a token or treasure for your loved one. Find original jewelry, stationery, books, bath and body products, kitschy trinkets and accessories at local favorites The Bibelot Shop (four metro locations, and Patina (four metro locations, With more than 20,000 square feet of space, the General Store of Minnetonka showcases décor for the home or cabin, Minnesota souvenirs, seasonal items, handmade clothing, greeting cards, picture frames and more (14401 Highway 7, 952-935-7131). If you know someone creative who likes to scrapbook, Paper Source sells journals, albums, calendars, gift wrap, invitations, handmade papers and other supplies (3048 Hennepin Avenue S., Minneapolis, 612-377-0700). Visit Restoration Hardware for high quality antique and modern textiles, furniture, hardware, accessories, lighting and bathware (Edina, 952-926-4220; St. Paul, 651-228-3033). If you have a little more green to spend on that special someone, choose some signature silver and wrap it up in blue from Tiffany & Co. (3624 Galleria, Edina, 952-922-0066).

Delectable Edibles

If you’re searching for a taste that reminds you of home, or hoping to bring a bite of Minnesota with you when you leave, these fine shops carry pleasures for every palette. See and smell more than 250 spices, seasonings and herbs at Penzey’s Spices (Minneapolis, 612-824-9777; St. Paul, 651-224-8448). Head to Harry & David for the most lavish gift baskets filled with fresh fruit, chocolate and confections (Mall of America, Bloomington, 952-854-6900). Rachael Ray and Meryl Streep agree, for tasty truffles, handmade daily from fine European cocoa liquor, visit Chocolat Céleste (2506 W. University Avenue, St. Paul, 651-644-3823). If you only eat chocolate for medicinal purposes (wink, wink), try the Naturals collection from Karl Bissinger’s French Confections. These healthy treats have less sodium, carbs and sugar than the typical nutrition bar (3495 Galleria, Edina, 952-922-6762). Find more than 2,000 unique items at wallet-friendly prices at the Southern California-based Trader Joe’s, which made quite the splash when it opened in St. Louis Park this past summer (4500 Excelsior Boulevard, 952-285-1053). Bill’s Imported Foods is the place to shop for a wide assortment of Mediterranean foods like feta cheese, baklava, Jasmine rice, pastas and grains—not to mention the best olives in the Midwest (721 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, 612-827-2891). Named one of the best independent gourmet stores in the country, Kitchen Window has gadgets and specialty foods for the aspiring chef and the gourmand (3001 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-824-4417).

Denim Love

They’re huggin’ butts everywhere, but perhaps your stack of denim duds could use a refresher from last year’s pick. Luckily, the Twin Cities has a vast collection of denim shops to bring you up to date. It may be small, but Ivy features hard-to-find denim brands like Evisu, Jetlag and Deener (3001 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-827-2764).  The ever-popular Macy’s is a great denim destination for both men and women to test-drive select designers like Rock & Republic and 7 for all Mankind (several metro locations, Located in the Galleria, Len Druskin is an alterna-hip shopping must, stocked with all the hot up-and-coming denim brands (3140 Galleria, Edina, 952-927-7923). Neiman Marcus carries haute couture catering to those who want to look fabulous at all costs (505 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-339-2600). The sophisticates love this hands-on boutique: Hot Mama offers tons of denim brands and dressing-room guidance for the modern mom (three metro locations, Tucked away in a little nook in Dinkytown is Covered, yet another trendy boutique specializing in all the denim of which fashionistas dream (402 14th Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, 612-378-4776). And don’t forget to include Intoto in your denim outing—a blue jean haven providing in-store alterations to fit any denim-craving body (3105 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-822-2414).

Pampered Pets

Lily Rosen-Zohar

They may be man’s best friend, but just don’t let your husband find out you’re spending more on the dog again this holiday season. But how can you refrain when little Dixie is peering out of a miniaturized denim jacket, pouty face and all? Lulu & Luigi is the area’s one-of-a-kind pet boutique where you can splurge on all of your pet accessories—they’ll even keep it a secret! (3844 Grand Way, St. Louis Park, 952-929-5858). While you’re out shopping for yourself, pick up a matching outfit for your furry little friend at Bow Wow Meow, conveniently located at Mall of America (Bloomington, 952-858-8744). For the hard-to-please, check out Pamper Me Pets where only the elite attend. This elaborate pet store is full of all the accessories you can imagine including detailed pet clothing and beds only suitable for kings (The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, Maple Grove, 763-493-3647). With your next stop at Target, be sure to browse the enormous pet selection of gourmet treats, studded collars and a full wardrobe (several metro locations, Your stylish pooch won’t pass up a car ride to Bone Adventure Pet Care & Grooming, the area’s one-stop pet shop for everything from fetchable bones to a new ‘do (three metro locations,

Bold & Beauteous

The Twin Cities area salons and makeup havens have been appearing quite dreary this season, but for good reason. Makeup trends have adopted the theme of nude meets darkness. The hot hues are both bold and dramatic, creating quite a contrast with winter skin tones. Sephora can attest to this as its shelves are filled with darkness in every shade. Shop more than 200 brands to find just the color you’re looking for (Mall of America, Bloomington, 952-854-1517; Ridgedale Center, Minnetonka, 952-513-1306). Get the latest look at Ulta by trying out the newly added Smashbox makeup line or the exclusive i.d. bareMinerals brand (several metro locations, For all of those Mac lovers, be sure to browse the color palettes this season and sample all the key looks for fall (Minneapolis, 612-825-0685; Mall of America, Bloomington, 952-814-9800). Loosen up your locks at one of seven Juut Salonspa locations around the Twin Cities. Become aroused by the Aveda aromas that drench the air ( Take time for yourself at The Refinery where you can enjoy a memorable massage, skin care treatments, nail art, waxing or a new hairstyle (321 S.E. 14th Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-331-9055). As if that isn’t enough, douse yourself with perfume oils, bath gels and lotions, and indulge in all sorts of yummy, luxurious potions at Garden of Eden (867 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, 651-293-1300).

Strike a Pose

Photo by George
Heinrich, courtesy of
Local Motion

While we’d never claim the catwalk status of a Paris, London, New York or Milan, our homegrown fashion hubs will help you make a statement nonetheless. A labor of love for husband-and-wife team Joshua and Delayna Sundberg, Cliche is the boutique to hit for one-of-a-kind couture (2403 Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-870-0420). With the latest apparel, jewelry and accessories by emerging local designers (including Katherine Gerdes of Project Runway, season three), Design Collective not only features affordable fashion, but also helps ease Twin Cities talent into the industry at large (1311 26th Street W., Minneapolis, 612-377-1000). Unpretentious and whimsical, Local Motion packs its racks with creations from local designers and small collections from the East and west Coasts (2813 Hennepin Avenue S., Minneapolis, 612-871-8436). Offering an even mix of men’s and women’s fashions, Kuhlman stores are filled with classic, European-crafted goods like pants, shirts, ties, jackets and accessories (Minneapolis, 612-338-5752; Edina, 952-929-4707). With a Euro-American feel, Adrienne Vittadini collections appeal to the woman’s busy lifestyle, taking her from home to office to a night on the town (Rosedale Center, Roseville, 651-633-0872). As for the gents, Hubert White displays dozens of designers from Oxxford and Tommy Bahama to Peter Huber and Scott Barber (IDS Center, 747 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-339-9200). And, if you’re shopping for the whole family, the Mall of America’s three-floor Nordstrom sells fine quality apparel, shoes and accessories by such heralded designers as Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Armani (Bloomington, 952-883-2121).

Minnesota Melting Pot

Believe it or not, our shopping scene is almost as diverse as our arts landscape. A cultural crossroads that’s relatively new in town, Midtown Global Market offers an international selection of produce, delicacies and handcrafted gifts, with ethnic eateries scattered throughout the property (920 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, 612-872-4041). Lake Street is also home to Mercado Central, a vibrant marketplace that boasts the region’s best Mexican food, as well as jewelry, fashion, music, movies and all things Latin American (1515 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, 612-728-5400). Just a block—but also an ocean—away, the 80-year-old Ingebretsen’s celebrates the Twin Cities’ Nordic roots with a gift store of Scandinavian artisan wares, plus an old-fashioned meat market and needlework shop (1601 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, 612-729-9333). Other Scandinavian essentials include the FinnStyle showroom in Gaviidae Common (651 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-333-2127) and Ikea, the affordable mega-center for the hip home furnisher in everyone (8000 Ikea Way, Bloomington, 952-858-8088). In the heart of Uptown, Agan Traders carries dresses, tapestries and other treasures from India, Nepal and Thailand (Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-824-5941). As for the Emerald Isle, Irish on Grand pays homage to St. Paul’s Irish heritage with artwork, books, clothing, music and many other authentic finds (1124 Grand Avenue, 651-222-5151). The shelves at Shuang Hur Oriental Market are stocked with exotic fruits and veggies, seafood, snacks, herbs, candy, tableware and other goods from across Asia (2710 Nicollet Avenue S., Minneapolis, 612-872-8606).

Just for Kids

If you’re playing tourist with the little tykes, shopping doesn’t have to be a pain in the patootey. Case in point: Walking into Wild Rumpus bookstore is like walking into the pages of Where the Wild Things Are, as young patrons are encouraged to hang from the rafters, hug the store pets or sprawl across the floor with their noses buried deep in Neverland (2720 W. 43rd Street, Minneapolis, 612-920-5005). The Red Balloon Bookshop is yet another gem stocked full of titles for parents to reminisce over (891 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, 651-224-8320). Speaking of reminiscing, whether you’re a youngster or grown-up, keen hobbyist or casual collector, your eyes will light up at the mini-locomotives and make-believe landscapes at Hobbytown U.S.A. (three metro locations, and Hub Hobby Center (6416 Penn Avenue S., Richfield, 612-866-9575). The award-winning Creative Kidstuff stores never fail to amaze mom, dad and teacher with a vast, clever and quirky selection of puzzles, books, dolls and music for toddler-to-12-year-old imaginations (several metro locations, A new shop that comes complete with its own tree house, Wonderment offers a wealth of natural toys and creative diversions, including soft wool and cotton dolls, tree branch building blocks, science kits and the like (4306 Upton Avenue S., Minneapolis, 612-929-2707). As for cool and unique baby gifts, Pacifier boutique carries the hippest tot-wear in town, as well as wooden and plush toys, slings, nursery décor, diaper bags and other fabulous finds (310 E. Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-623-8123). Prefer an all-in-one gift buying experience? Mall of America mainstays include Build-A-Bear Workshop, LEGO Imagination Center, and the Discovery Channel and Disney stores, to name just a few kid-friendly faves (

Editor’s Choice

Stocking Stuffers

Juut Salonspa
What more could a girl ask for than to reach inside her stocking and pull out a handful of to-die-for Aveda products? Juut Salonspa offers a variety of eco-friendly Aveda collections with an aroma that is simply irresistible. Choose from silky hand creams, rejuvenating conditioners, organic lip tints and much more. Seven Twin Cities locations, 612-676-2250, ~S.M.

When it comes to filling the stocking of the woman who has everything—or the one with a style all her own—search no further than Patina. Filled to the brim with bric-a-brac, quirky games, original jewelry, seasonal décor, fanciful art and body luxuries, this colorful shop pleases the eye, the wallet and the heart. Four Twin Cities locations, ~A.F.

The Electric Fetus
With more than 50,000 new and used CD titles of every genre under the sun, plus an impressive stock of offbeat gifts, shopping at “The Fetus” is almost as satisfying as the consumption. No hard sells as you browse for stocking-worthy gifts, a chance to listen before you buy, and employees who dig like paleontologists upon request. 2000 Fourth Avenue S., Minneapolis, 612-870-9300, ~E.D.