Best Of :: Shopping & Services
With the behemoth in Bloomington set to expand once again, we're here to extoll the virtues of a regular mall — you know, a place you to go to shop, maybe eat, possibly try to keep the kids entertained a bit. And the best place to do that is, yes, in Maplewood. There's nothing too high-end, but Maplewood Mall has most of the mid-priced stores we expect: The anchor department stores are Macy's, Kohl's, and Sears, and there's an Express, a Foot Locker, a Victoria's Secret, etc. This is also the site of the very first H&M to open in Minnesota. Bargain clothes hunters can also check out Ragstock, along with Forever 21 and other fast-fashion shops. Many malls are now bereft of a bookstore, but there's a large Barnes & Noble at Maplewood. There are also some more unusual tenants: an acupressure clinic, a Teavana for all your tea needs, and a Spencer's (which was once a mall staple but now a rarity) for gag gifts and teenage giggles. You can get your hair cut, your nails done, and your shoes repaired. There's a small but diverse food court. And Maplewood Mall really excels on the entertaining-kids (affordably) front: There's an actual arcade with video games and skee-ball, right next to a free play area for little ones. Best of all is the old-fashioned double-decker Venetian carousel in the center of the mall. A replica of a 19th-century German carousel, it was built and hand-painted in Italy, and a few years ago it was dismantled and sent to Florida for maintenance and repair, so it's now in great shape and still costs only $2 to ride. Even from outside it's obvious that this is a superior mall: If you approach the building from the east, you'll see a lovely mosaic mural on one wall, and in front of it a giant cloud-painted cistern, part of the mall's system for capturing rainwater and preventing polluted runoff to nearby lakes. There are 55 rain gardens in the parking lots and some porous pavement too. So it's possible to convince yourself that by shopping at this mall you're doing something good for the environment.
If you're ever looking for a cutting board shaped like the state of Minnesota, I Like You is your place. The colorful gift shop in northeast Minneapolis selling "small things for a prettier life" is a trove of locally made goods. The astroturf carpet creates a fun place for kids to play while parents shop for unique kitchenware, jewelry, and a collection of Minnesota-to-the-core T-shirts that say things like "It's nice to be nice." The shop is owned by friendly locals Sarah Sweet and Angela Lessman, whose tattooed arms and quirky style fit right in with the eclectic mix of goods they sell. Everything in the store is chosen to appeal to our Twin Cities audience, making I Like You the perfect place to find a gift for your mom, dad, girlfriend, or even your grandmother. We'd be remiss if we did not mention the greeting card collection, which is worthy of a best-of category in itself. The cards are hilarious and selected to make even the most emotion-averse Minnesotan feel warm and fuzzy inside.
While locally owned women's boutiques continue to pop up all over the Twin Cities, it has taken a little more time for the men's shops to catch up. Since opening a few years ago in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, MartinPatrick3 has offered fashionable garb for guys with good taste. The retail space is filled with a mix of dapper and manly items, including raw indigo jeans, heavy jackets ideal for camping, boots both stylish and practical, and other effortlessly polished wardrobe staples. Accessories include coveted watches, highly gift-able cuff links, and a variety of wallets and bags. The grooming section is also impressive, with balms for healing tattoos, pomade for slicking back hair, and invigorating shower gels.
If you have a niece or nephew you want to spoil, boy have we got the store for you. That was exactly the impetus behind Pacifier's founding 10 years ago: A couple couldn't find a cool enough gift in Minneapolis for their new niece. Local shoppers no longer have that problem, as the carefully curated goods in this shop are hip enough for any kid we know. The clothes (for infants up to size 12) are classy and sophisticated enough for adults, but with just a touch of whimsy to render them childlike. The East Hennepin store (the original Pacifier location) was recently ready for spring with an absolutely adorable selection of brightly patterned raincoats and rain boots, plus child-size umbrellas to complete the ensemble. There are graphic tees adorned with animals, organic cotton items including leggings, and fancy dresses for all your seasonal garden-party occasions. This is where you shop when you want to make adults jealous of a child's wardrobe.
Minneapolis cosmetic house the Elixery treats makeup like a science, using chemist-created formulas to produce their various lines of lipstick, scrubs, and essential oils. They hand-pour their lipstick, creating beautiful colors with a rich texture you won't find in the makeup aisle at Target. The brand even keeps it local. In the past couple of years they have paired with local Doomtree rapper Dessa to create a signature shade of red, and worked with the Minnesota RollerGirls on a line of blue, green, and bright pink lipsticks that will stay put through the most extreme conditions. Keeping with their scientific roots, the Elixery's vintage lab is housed in a large building that was once home to General Mills Research Laboratories, but heralding a new era of beauty innovation sans animal testing, the Elixery laboratory is cruelty-free and 100 percent vegan. While they don't sell their line on-site, you can find Elixery lipsticks and other beauty products at a number of boutiques around town, including June Resale, Fifth Element, and Ampersand.
It's been said a million times: Most women are wearing the wrong bra size. Even if you've been donning the same cup size for the past decade, chances are that you're still not wearing the correct one. The ladies in the Nordstrom lingerie department will greet you the moment you step into the realm of underthings, and they'll guide you through the land of silk and lace with expertise. Searching for unmentionables can be a delicate matter — whether you're in the market for everyday wear or something special — and the employees here will find exactly what you're looking for without making you feel self-conscious. Unlike some other lingerie stores, Nordstrom employees go through rigorous training to fit undergarments correctly, and their knowledge goes way beyond bras, so if you're looking for a shaper to cinch without the pinch or just super comfortable undies, they've got your back(side).