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As someone who could, at one time, recall brands and products carried at every store and what was currently on the shelves for last-minute birthday present requests from friends and family for years at a stretch, I confess: I haven’t had a whole lot of time to just get out and shop—what with a global pandemic and three kids ages 8 and under doing school at home with two parents who work full time.
When I pulled up to the corner of East 38th Street and 28th Avenue South, I was flooded by feelings I haven’t had in a year and a half. I felt a fusion of my baseline longing for connection and some sense of normalcy and safety eclipsed by a long-dormant twitterpation of reportorial discovery, both for what was on the shelves and the people who make a neighborhood go. I found myself sitting in my car, watching the neighborhood go by. It turned out to be a nice bit of neighborhood-watching. A man in full coveralls came out of florist shop Studio Emme with a bouquet wrapped in green, white, and clear cellophane. He got in his Subaru and jetted off. A couple with bike helmets in hands strolled by, discussing future plans. Someone in chef’s whites came out the back door of Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub and craned his neck around, dissatisfied with what he wasn’t seeing, before silently and quickly vanishing back behind the fencing. It was like everything was waking—including this neighborhood scene.
I peeked through the window of this “plant-based emporium,” owned by Tabota Seyon—it wasn’t open at the time of this visit but would be sometime in June. Seyon is moving from the Midtown Global Market, where she served up her vegan creations to vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, and omnivores alike. infusedlifemn.com
This adorable florist has a postage stamp–sized spot filled with both flowers and small businesses’ gifty goods: letterpress cards, kids’ toys and games, small plants, and perfect little presents. There are also preordered arrangements and hand bouquets—and yes, they can make them while you wait or they can deliver. shopstudioemme.us
This mega-approachable zero-waste shop smells like a luxury spa but deals in efficiency—that is, keeping trash out of the landfill by offering package-free and refillable products. Still, nothing feels like a sacrifice. Founder and conservation biologist Amber Haukedahl says her philosophy is to get everyone considering small steps to a less wasteful life, whether buying food in bulk (hot tip: Tare sells Birchwood granola!) or environmentally conscious body-care products from shea butter to hairbrushes, baby-care items, bandages, and more. Residents who live above the shop pad down in jammies to pick up breakfast and coffee on weekend mornings, but shoppers come from as far and wide as Wisconsin and Elk River to stock up—and save the planet. thetaremarket.com
The shop name fits the inventory: Homespun is a locally owned gift shop that solely carries goods from local makers. The result is an homage to Minnesota: T-shirts and tea towels emblazoned with Minnesotan phrases and inside jokes, artwork featuring our coolest architecture, body-care products (the Julia Elise face serum is oh-so-silky), Skyline sunglasses featuring lasered Minneapolis skyline bows, and the amazing resin-and-wood jewelry from third-gen AAPI woodworker Peter Mielech, among others. homespunmn.myshopify.com
CURLY GIRL BOUTIQUE
New face on the block is curly-maned Emily Deutschman, who began her business online and in her basement, eventually moving to pop-ups such as the Minneapolis Craft Market and farmers’ markets. Then the pandemic hit. She moved back to Zoom appointments with clothing drop-offs—“like a local Stitch Fix,” she says—and managed to expand during the pandemic. Now the first-time shop owner’s space, which calls to mind a boutique Anthropologie—“Bohemian, but fitted,” she says, laughing—is open for general shopping and private shopping by appointment, either individually or with a couple of friends in tow. The shop’s décor and Euro brands are infused with a colorful, vibrant spirit, all bright patterns and playful embellishments, and she’s determined to help women feel empowered, no matter their age. When I mention it takes a certain amount of mettle to open a brick and mortar “in these times,” I find out she has a background in theater and counseling, which, let’s face it, is a pretty great combination for offering personal shopping experiences, is it not? curlygirlboutique.com
Eats: Infusedlife, Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, Key West, Ted Cook’s 19th Hole
Deets: The corner of East 38th Street and 28th Avenue South. Tons of free street parking, places to lock a bike, and both light rail and bus nearby.
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