Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In the spirit of the holiday, I’m grateful for local businesses December 20, 2019

Urns filled with greenery add a holiday flair to the historic Bachrach building in downtown Faribault.


IF YOU’RE OLD SCHOOL—and that would be me—you appreciate homegrown brick-and-mortar businesses. These are the places that make our communities unique, the places that offer excellent customer service, the places that connect us as people, the places that boost our local economies.


Faribault Print Shop offers lots of options and promotes shopping local with the I GET IT! in Faribault campaign.


I can walk into the local hardware store to a greeting of “What can I help you find?” I can walk into a local third-generation family shoe store, be greeted by name, get my feet measured, shoes fitted. I can walk into a local gallery and chat it up with other creatives. People I know by name.


The only Grinch you will find in downtown Faribault is this painted one.


I love this about my community of Faribault. The interaction between business owners and customers. The feeling that I matter, as an individual as much as a potential customer.


In its window display this December, Heartman Insurance honors the Olympia Cafe, once housed in the firm’s building.


Historic buildings line Central Avenue in Faribault.


I love, too, the historic buildings that define our downtown and the care most property owners take in maintaining those structures.


At the Cheese Cave, windows promote the cheese sold inside, including bleu cheeses made and aged in Faribault.


Keepers Antique Shop always does an exceptional job with window displays, any time of the year.


On the antique shop door.


I love how, this time of year, businesses spread holiday cheer through creative window displays, encouraged by an annual competition.


An assortment of art in the front window of The Upper East Side Gallery.


Not everything here is perfect, of course. Nowhere is. There are vacant eyesore storefronts, negative attitudes still about immigrants who call downtown home (although that seems to be improving), perceived problems with parking…



But, overall, Faribault frames a positive image in a place I’ve called home for 37 years.

FYI: For another shop local option, check out the Solstice Market from 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at Keepsake Cidery, rural Dundas. Styled after outdoor European markets, the event will feature bonfires, grilling and 20-plus vendors from the Cannon Valley region vending their wares/food/creations inside a heated tent. The cidery is open from noon – 8 p.m.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “In the spirit of the holiday, I’m grateful for local businesses”

  1. I love shopping local. Our little community decorates the decorative light poles downtown and then has a contest for the best display. Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  2. The feeling of community has left New York City. When I first moved here, there were all sorts of great neighborhood businesses. And they remembered you. Most are all gone. So many empty storefronts being replaced by expensive eateries. Local hardware store – gone. Place is still empty. Too many big box shops now. Sad.

    • I’m sorry to hear that, Keith. It seems prevalent everywhere. Randy and I were talking last evening about the future of many family businesses here in Faribault now owned by individuals our age or closer to retirement. There’s no one to buy the business, to take over, so the doors are closing. Happened to a local glass shop and flooring store.

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    It is fun to look in store windows, especially this time of year. I try to shop local when I can.

  4. Judith Rowe Says:

    What lovely, quirky shop displays to cheer up passers-by. I’m lucky to live in a small community, where shopkeepers also make an effort to tempt you in. I’m sure they all get extra customers,which helps to keep them going in the New Year.
    Merry Christmas Audrey.

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