Posted in Communication Tools, Cool things in Minneapolis, Cool Things in St. Paul, One Mile Project, Virtual and Real World Synergy, tagged Creative Kidstuff, Home Depot, Hot Mama, Korte's, Lake Street Minneapolis, Levi's jeans, Macy's, Northern Sun, Northern Sun Merchandising, Primp, Sara Lee bread, Shops at Westend on November 28, 2011 |
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Friday afternoon — Black Friday — I met my brother at the Home Depot in St. Louis Park. My son had spent the night with his cousin and it was time to fetch him. St. Louis Park happens to be equidistant from our homes.
Earlier that morning, my daughter, my other son, and I went Christmas shopping at Creative Kidstuff and the Bibelot — two other smallish, local businesses in St. Paul. Our car was full of packages and freshly washed after our trip to the farm on Thanksgiving.
Bumper sticker available at Northern Sun on Lake Street in Minneapolis
A clean car, we all know, really makes a bumper sticker shine.
My shiny black “Shop Independent Stores” sticker shone like a beacon in the West End* shopping district.
A not-so-polite fellow walked by my car and bellowed “Well that’s just hilarious, I guess convenience trumps values.”
This was not the place to tell him why I was there, but it did make me think.
As much as I shop independent, I still shop at chain stores.
If I need milk, Sara Lee bread, and mittens; I’ll go to Target vs. Korte’s or Mississippi Market and who-knows-where for the mittens–if I’m short on time or shopping with my 3-year-old. For Levi’s jeans I go to Macy’s. Would it be better if I bought a different brand at Hot Mama, a locally based regional chain?
What do you buy that you can only find at a chain store?
* There are independent shops here, too: Primp and Creative Kidstuff, at the very least.
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Posted in Eating & Drinking (aka Restaurants), Getting the word out, Minneapolis / St. Paul Marketing, Music, tagged Brad Kern, Creative Kidstuff, Elinor, Elinor Artful Adormnments, First Avenue, Grand Ave, Grand Meander, Groveland Tap, Jeremy Messersmith, Semisonic, Summit Beer, the Nook, Trip Shakespeare on January 1, 2011 |
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People Just Need a Reason to Go Out, to Buy, to Visit, to Shop: That’s my theory of local retail and dining.
Here’s where it’s worked for me (and Minneapolis/St. Paul businesses) in 2010.
Groveland Tap’s “Save the Nook Saturday” - Backstory: the venerable Nook burger shop on Hamline Avenue was gutted by fire on December 14th, closing the restaurant for the next few months. Commiserating with the quickly-out-of-work Nook staff, Groveland Tap hosted a fundraiser on Saturday, December 18th. For every pint of Summit beer purchased, the ‘Tap donated $1.50 to a Nook Employee fund. Why it worked? I waited 45 minutes with my husband and 2 kids for a table in mid afternoon. One of the servers told me it was busier than their Fish Fridays during Lent, St. Patrick’s Day, or their Facebook Voting Day Special. Twenty kegs of Summit later, they raised $6,700. We had no plans to go out for dinner that night, but let’s just say we did our best to help the Nook employees.
The Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA) shopping spree along Grand Avenue in St. Paul: The Grand Meander. Did we need to make glittery popsicle stars at Creative Kidstuff? No, but it sure helped me spy on what my kids wanted from Santa.
Shopping parties with Chocolate at Elinor Artful Adornments in St. Paul. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, what business doesn’t have longer hours? Exactly, so how do you get people to come to your place? Make it a party! Make it fun! Bring a friend and save some money! That made Elinor stand out this holiday season.
PHOTO BY STACY SCHWARTZ
First Avenue’s Benefit for Brad Kern in October. I had no clue who Brad Kern was, I was just excited to see Semisonic–a band I once flew to Amsterdam just to see–live again. People attend benefits or buy at silent auctions to help the stated cause, but also because they receive something valuable in return. Imagine my surprise in hearing Toolmaster of Brainerd while reading First Ave’s Twitter feed. So what did I receive? A rare chance to hear a mostly reunited Trip Shakespeare and discover a new fave: Jeremy Messersmith.
The Current’s top 89 of 2010, which is why I’m writing this blog on New Year’s Day listening to the rebroadcast at www.thecurrent.org, marking songs, and bands that I liked, but whose names I never caught over the year.
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Posted in Minneapolis / St. Paul Marketing, tagged Cafe Latte, Creative Kidstuff, Frattallone's Ace Hardware, George's Shoe Repair, Grand Ave, Irish on Grand, Kowalski's, St. Paul City Ballet, Wuollet's Bakery on December 8, 2010 |
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One of my family’s favorite local activities is the annual meander along Grand Avenue in St. Paul — sipping hot cocoa, visiting reindeer and getting a start on holiday shopping.
As charming as Chapel Hill, North Carolina was, it just didn’t boast a shopping district as energetic and unique as Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is home to one of my favorite Pizza restaurants — IP 3 aka Italian Pizzeria III and it does lead to another favorite haunt — the Weaver Street Market lawn. But there are a lot of closed store fronts and the annual events don’t seem to support new business.
On the other hand, Grand Avenue on Saturday was bustling with families and shoppers. We made glittery snowflakes at Creative Kidstuff out of craft sticks and a lot of glue, ogled cakes at Wuollet’s bakery, and munched on cookies at the UPS store. Everywhere we went there were smiling kids and full shopping bags. I don’t think I ever saw Franklin Street so full of shoppers.
I think what makes Grand Avenue so popular is that you can find everything there from practical goods like milk and cheese at Kowalski’s grocery store and new laces at George’s Shoe Repair to the fanciful such as Cafe Latte’s desserts, Irish on Grand’s vast music selection, or performances by the St. Paul City Ballet. I don’t think any local homeowner could go more than a few months (weeks?) without needing something from one of the Frattallone’s Ace Hardware Stores.
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