Here’s Day Two’s installment of fantastic small businesses that I simply like (okay adore!) and frequent.

Let’s shop small for Small Business Saturday!

Where do you go? Share in the comments below!

Frattalone’s Ace Hardware (Multiple Locations) There are TWO locations on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, which tells you something about my town. If you need it, you can find it. At my last visit, we purposely went there to buy cut-and-drilled-to-order plexiglass for our chicken coop and left with the plexiglass, two wall-mounted ski racks for our front porch, two dish towels (I can’t resist a fleur de lis), and some laundry soap. Plus, I must add, a million ideas for the coffee drinkers and cooks in my family.

Cossetta’s Alimentari My “What’s for dinner?” secret answer. My family loves pizza. We know every pizza shop in town and quite a few in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Everyone knows the restaurant, but have your discovered Cossetta’s grocery? We buy pizza making supplies (perfect sauce, flavorful mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, olives…), Torrone nougat candy, Italian confetti (aka Jordan Almonds), and the most divine Anise extract.

Last summer, my brother and I took our kids there for lunch (one large salad and two large pizzas.) While the kids were still eating, I pointed out that Seven Corner’s Hardware was just across the street. His reaction? “Wow.” I sent him over to shop, by himself. I earned a lot of sister points that day.

If you don’t know Seven Corner’s Hardware, then you need to. This is tool heaven. They produce the kind of catalog that tool geeks like to look at again and again. Want a random orbital sander? Get ready to think. They list more than FIVE pages of them on their website. But stop in, they know their tools–it’s their passion.

Do you have a train lover in your family? Then leave the West 7th neighborhood of St. Paul (above) and return to Marshall Avenue to visit Choo Choo Bob’s. To the uninitiated, this is the most kid-friendly train shop in town. They are so famous now, they even have their own show on DVD. For that super special train experience, head to Bandana Square in St. Paul and visit the Twin City Model Railroad Museum. Every Saturday night (November – February) you can attend the most amazing model train show:  Night Trains. It will make you believe in magic.

We go to the zoo to see the animals and smell the flowers, but I always sneak back to peruse the Como Zoo Gift Shop. You can sponsor an animal in their online store, but check out the actual shop for bonsai plants and giant, 6 foot long stuffed snakes. Who doesn’t need one of those at home?

Join me in welcoming Poppy’s Togs and Clogs to Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. They are in Peapod’s old location by the St. Clair Broiler. I haven’t bought anything yet because I just can’t decide. My resident fashionista (pictured above) would like to buy the entire store for herself–and me–funky women’s clothing and stunning kids’ togs (clothes) you won’t find elsewhere.

I can’t just skip Peapod’s. I’ve been shopping there since they had a hole in the wall near the old Hungry Mind on Grand. At their new location in St. Anthony Park, the store overflows with thoughtful baby toys, nursing gear, and the most amazing selection of kid music that even adults enjoy. One of my family’s personal favorites is the Seal Maiden by Karan Casey.

For those days when I think I need a giant, painted sheet-metal rooster I venture into Gypsy Moon on Randolph across from St. Kate’s. Seriously. Marsha carries the most amazing assortment of garden decorations and jewelry and gifts and cards. The roosters? They’re from Mexico. Marsha calls them “junk yard” animals. You can find one perched outside of Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply, as well.

My favorite co-op is Mississippi Market at Selby and Dale. My St. Paulite husband tells me this used to be the most dangerous corner back in the day. Now it boasts a light and airy co-op with handmade African market baskets and upcycled sweater mittens. My favorite treat, however, is to sample one of their smashing deli salads full of stuff my kids would never eat like roasted beets and Kale.

Just across the street from Mississippi Market, you’ll find Primp Cheap-Chic boutique. I have to admit I’ve not shopped here, but one of my favorite former students highly recommends it. She tells me there’s nothing over $100 in the store. Judging from their Facebook page, the clothes are super-cute. You can also find them on the West End in St. Louis Park.

Read a Book, Adopt a Penguin, at least that’s what the website of Common Good Books implores us to do. But don’t just shop online. Dive into the bowels of the historic Blair Flats building beneath Nina’s Coffee Cafe and you’ll be smitten for hours. It’s my $100 store. I might have a list when I stop in, but before I leave, I’ve picked out another 5 or 6 books I absolutely need.

Don’t forget to perk yourself up with a coffee at Nina’s Coffee Cafe.

2 responses to “Day Two of the Daily Dozen: Small Business Saturday — it’s Hardware Heaven”

  1. rachelmpeterson Avatar

    Two of my favorite places in the Cities: the Red Stag ( and I Like You ( They just happen to be right next to each other, too!

  2. Erik Hare Avatar

    This is what is so great about Saint Paul in particular – a lot of small shops making great and unusual things happen that really enrich our lives in ways we can’t fully express. One day a year to recognize them isn’t enough – but it’s a good day to really make a show and let them know how important they are to us.
    Life here on West Seventh in particular would not be the same without Seven Corners Hardware up the street – how many times have they bailed me out of a tight spot? Can’t possibly count ’em!

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