Most students in introductory stained-glass-making classes are in search of a new hobby or a fun few hours, but not Connie Beckers. In 1995, she took such a course and soon built a career around the art of stained glass and kiln-working. Now, through The Goddess of Glass, she teaches others her craft during classes that cover the creation of jewelry, coasters, plates, and transparent overalls. She’s also been known to flex her instructional muscle as a guest artist on the DIY Network show Cramped Quarters, where she taught the show’s host and contractor how to make stained-glass tiles for a kitchen in the middle of remodeling.
The Goddess of Glass also sells artwork and gifts out of a separate retail shop. Patrons can commission a custom piece, such as a stained-glass window, or peruse a collection of pieces by more than 80 local artisans. The shop’s staff can also advise clients who need custom framing, helping them to pick the proper matting and frame so that their Richard Nixon rookie cards really pop.
For more than 80 years, three generations of the Minsberg family have overseen Creative Lighting’s bright, well-stocked showroom, where attentive consultants help illuminate dark dwellings with a selection of hundreds of ceiling lights, lamps, and other twinkling light fixtures. Deftly navigating the sea of ornate, glowing décor, they work to engineer thoughtful solutions for customers’ specific lighting needs for interiors and exteriors. A resident squadron of trained designers also helps devise custom lighting plans, and further extends their interior-design wisdom with a collection of mirrors and wall art.
Creative Lighting vows to keep its inventory affordable through a best-price guarantee, and stocks its website with helpful decorating hints and tips, such as what to do when a cluster of fireflies swarms upon a wall sconce thinking it’s their mothership.
Googly eyes. Gas masks. Mannequin arms. Blowguns. Ax-Man Surplus Stores dares crafters, DIY enthusiasts, and tinkerers of all stripes to dream bigger, better, and weirder with an enormous stock of new surplus items. Each shop's collection of oddities and odds-and-ends resides in open-air barrels and on easily browseable shelves. Bins entice shoppers to rummage through metal bits in search of the next piece to a welded sculpture, and other aisles hold several decades’ worth of electronic wiring, fans, speakers, and fuses, perfect for building a robot that every generation can relate to. Frequent shoppers are rewarded with a new truckload of treasures every week, along with an ever-changing collection of signs that artistically warn of the hazards of shoplifting and suggest off-label uses for the merchandise. World Famous Design Junkies praised Ax-Man for its signage and its selection alike in 2009, calling it “the greatest place to buy do-hickeys in the entire world.”
Established in 1960, Suburban Floor Coverings swathes bare bases in a wide selection of quality carpet, ceramic tile, vinyl, wood, and laminate. With more than 3,000 carpet samples, including Stainmaster Series 1000 ($15.95/sq. yd.) through Series 6000 ($30.95/sq. yd.), choosy feet can find the perfect soft surface on which to coyly leave footprints or engagement toe rings. Mannington laminate, tile, and wood flooring (starting at $10.95/sq. yd.) and Kährs wood flooring (starting at $4.50/sq. ft.) reward well-behaved ottomans with a fashionable foundation, and environmentally friendly, sustainably harvested QU Cork flooring (starting at $6.95/sq. ft.) satisfies tree-hugging yearnings without the awkward first date. The flooring professionals at Suburban Floor Coverings also expertly install all in-store collections, including carpet ($.60/sq. ft.), wood ($0.50+/sq. ft.), and tile (up to $1.50/sq. ft.).
Situated in the shopping district on Robert Street in West St. Paul, Twin Cities Magic & Costume stocks a collection of tricks, makeup, and costumes that have enlivened parties, magic acts, and movies for the past 27 years. Knowledgeable professionals and industry insiders guide visitors through the forest of lifelike costumes and awe-inspiring light and fire effects, helping to create eerie costumes for Halloween parties or convincing getups for period plays and films. DVDs and instructional videos teach budding illusionists how to impress crowds with linking ring and coin tricks, and fog machines and strobe lights add a touch of Vegas glamour to magicians' sets. Twin Cities Magic & Costume puts its expertise to the test as the headquarters of the Zombie Pub Crawl, a festival of gore and horror brought to life with the selection of professional-grade makeup and more than 15,000 wigs.
Upscale Consignment's exacting staffers hand-select gently used items from luxury brand names, such as Coach, kate spade, Banana Republic, and Ugg, for each of its three stores. Clothing for men and women, as well as shoes, jewelry, handbags, and headbands, fill neatly organized racks and tidy displays, which arrange accessories by color or pattern. All consigned clothing must be 3 years old or younger, to ensure the shop's styles remain en vogue.