Shop in the City's bright, funky storefront brims with a host of eclectic goods. Scrub off scum or the flavor of beef stew with a bar of fine soap, exuding scents of classic french lavender ($6.95) or french verbena ($6.95), or sate jewelry cravings with turquoise bracelets ($14.95–24.95) or an antique multichain necklace ($28). Minnesota T-shirts available in a trifecta of colors give visitors a way to voice statewide solidarity ($26.95). After browsing the boutique's wearable wares, settle into a comfy, brightly upholstered armchair and sample a few pages of one of Shop in the City’s selection of books ($5.95+). High ceilings, exposed wooden beams, and a quaint collection of lamps add a charming vintage ambiance, where an assortment of wall mirrors allows vampires to don bowler hats in homage to René Magritte.
Kitchen Window, much like an extravagant meal, is the product of combining simple ingredients with elaborate culinary techniques. The original store was no more than 1,200 square feet, containing a small demonstration kitchen and modest, yet high-quality, collection of kitchen utensils. The staff's dedication to their craft brought customers through the doors, and as word grew of the shop, so too did its offerings; small demonstrations became cooking classes and the stock of cooking equipment grew. Today, Kitchen Window spans 20,000 square feet of space, which contains not only 16,000 products and two cooking-demo stations, but also an outdoor classroom with more than 20 grills where students can practice preparing steak and marshmallows. Instructors inside the cooking school lead dozens of culinary sessions, from basic knife-skills classes to deep-dish baking sessions and grilling expos.
A modest stucco façade belies the trove of eclectic, upscale wares that wait inside Motto Boutique’s three-story expanse. Co-owners Maria Walker and Maryn Bulygo channeled a west coast vibe when designing their airy store, which looks more like an effortlessly chic home than a typical boutique. Paintings, photos, and gilded mirrors line pristine white walls that abut sleek wooden furnishings and display cases filled with jewelry. Upstairs, racks of men’s flannel shirts and women’s dresses share space with stacks of denim piled high atop glass tables. Known as “The Attic,” the boutique’s topmost floor houses sale items, past season's fashions, and the discounted bones of dead presidents.
Just beyond the milky-blue and raspberry hues of its flowerbox-adorned storefront, Sewtropolis nurtures constant creativity with sewing workshops and do-it-yourself sewing stations. A self-taught sewist, owner Nikol Gianopoulos often teaches stitching techniques and threading essentials while her students assemble their own skirts, blouses, and quilts. Instructors Laura, Raina, and Annie also share their personal styles with children and adults while transforming elaborate fabrics and yarns into functional artwork. For personal projects, the shop carries sewing and quilting patterns from Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Colette Patterns, and Tula Pink. A series of sewing machines, sergers, and cutting spaces are available for rent by the hour, and stacks of colorful bolts inspire creativity along with the shop dog Skilos, whose trusting gaze often convinces sewists to craft elaborate doggie mansions.
At the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street stands a brick fortress of a building, topped by a cloud-tickling sign that heralds Calhoun Square and its signature blend: namely, the breadth of a suburban mall mixed with the accessibility of a neighborhood hub. Two floors hold nearly three dozen storefronts and kiosks, from Chiang Mai Thai's low-lit haven for famously fiery seafood and curries to the ComedySportz theater, which reverberates with laughter four nights a week during fast-paced, competitive improv shows. Elsewhere, shoppers can pick up mod home decor, stylish sunglasses, and rugged boots, among other adornments for the home and body.
Nadeau characterizes its furniture as "with a soul" because it's true artisan work: handcrafted from wood rather than mass-produced from gasket pylons. Showcase fine china and live gerbils in a mahogany regal glass-door cabinet ($372), or in a hefty, finely trimmed narrow bookcase with drawer ($197). Or, display a new moving picture box on a bobbin leg console table ($116). Furniture comes in a myriad of stains and colors, and many pieces are one-of-a-kind. Nadeau's ever-changing inventory includes a variety of sturdy dining room tables and chairs. Prices and selection may vary due to rotating inventory, but pieces are always fully assembled and ready to welcome any tuckered torso or mound of toothbrushes.