photo by erika ludwig, hair and makeup by margo gordon
Responses to this month’s cover story, more than any other in the magazine’s recent history, perhaps, may overwhelm our postman’s mailbag and crash our email server. No, the subject isn’t politics, or religion, but something even more effective at triggering Minnesotans’ ire: conspicuous consumption.
This aversion is rooted in a cultural discomfort with receiving gifts—and, even more so, treating oneself. (See: Howard Mohr’s How to Talk Minnesotan for a primer on the practice of refusing food three times before accepting it.) And then there’s the Midwestern ethos of practical thrift, which favors good value and modesty over flashiness and flaunting. That’s part of the reason Saks Fifth Avenue on Nicollet Mall downgraded to its discount-oriented concept, Saks Off Fifth; why Target reigns king; and why your neighbor can’t help but respond to a compliment on her outfit by telling you she bought the item on clearance.
Because Minnesota Monthly is a lifestyle magazine, we cover a mix of serious issues and lighthearted fun. If our recent features on the education bubble and gender equality in the workplace were oat bran and kale, “Splurge!” is Manny’s behemoth brownie, a $24 dessert nearly the size of a car battery.
Is the mere mention of such decadence causing your (long) undies to bunch? If so, let me assure you that our intent is simply to inform you of these unique indulgences—for example, the historic mansion you can rent for $8,000 a week, domestic staff included—and there’s no obligation to partake. Simply reading about the stunning Gucci frock that Cate Blanchett wore on the red carpet won’t somehow siphon $4,900 straight from your bank account into Nordstrom’s cash register.
Minnesotans may not be known for their extravagances, but they do have a reputation for generosity. So consider using this guide to splurge on a gift—surely you know someone deserving.