Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Anything but plain in Plainview, from signs to shops & more June 27, 2022

A favorite sign at Cupcakes Etcetera. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

THEY—SIGNS, NOTICES, WINDOW DISPLAYS—offer insights into the character of a place. I’ve discovered that during my meanderings into small towns, mostly in Minnesota.

A welcoming message on the Plainview Community Center window. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

On a recent visit to Plainview in the southeastern corner of our state, I found plenty of evidence revealing the welcoming friendliness of a creative community with lots of home-grown businesses. There’s nothing plain about Plainview. I popped into several shops when I walked along West Broadway. Some, to my disappointment, were not open on the Saturday afternoon I was in town.

An unexpected find, New Fresh Wok. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)
Food offerings at the Chinese restaurant. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

Still, I got a good feel for this business community simply by observing. The chicken and shrimp menu options written on a whiteboard in the window of New Fresh Wok sounded mighty tasty to me. (I’d already eaten. Unfortunately.)

An eye-catching color scheme defines Cakes Etc. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo May 2022)

Across the street, Cakes Etcetera was closed. But the colorful building with the equally appealing signage pulled me closer. I’m pretty sure I’d be a fan of the artfully-decorated cupcakes, the decadent brownies, the Salted Nut Roll bars and other sweet treats created here.

The bottom portion of the display window at Rare Necessities. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

I also appreciate occasional shops like Rare Necessities, which offers upcycled and re-imagined décor, one-of-a-kind necessities and accessories. It’s usually open from 10 am – 4 pm Friday and Saturday on the third weekend of the month, which didn’t happen to be during my stop in Plainview. Next time.

“Cakes” in a window at Cakes Etc. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

But in the shops that were open and which I stepped into, I found a common denominator—friendliness. And I’m not talking a simple, how can I help you greeting. I’m talking a genuinely warm welcome with engaging conversation. The I’m glad you’re here attitude.

Posted in the window of the Plainview Community Center, an invitation to veterans. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

At the community center, veterans receive an especially warm welcome with free coffee on Tuesdays, during “Breakfast with Friends.” That sounds so hospitable, so small townish lovely.

Note to drivers in the window of Your Family Healthcare. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

I also noted a sign in the front window of Your Family Healthcare directing delivery drivers to leave packages next door at J.T. Variety & Toys if the chiropractic clinic is closed. Just another example of Minnesota Nice, small town business version. I’ve spotted this type of signage in other rural communities.

Soap with an intriguing name, available in Plainview. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

But I’ve never seen a sign for Howling Goat soap illustrated with goat and wolf props.

That random ash tray. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

Nor have I seen an ASH TRAY on the side of a building, my most unusual find of the afternoon in downtown Plainview.

More cake shop signage. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

This is what I love about small towns. I never know what I will discover. Every community is different. Every community holds character. And that, for me, is the draw, along with friendly folks, home-grown shops and eateries, creativity…

TELL ME: Have you been to Plainview? Or have you discovered a community that holds similar appeal? I’d like to hear.

Click here to read my previous posts from Plainview. And check back for one final story in this series.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

4 Responses to “Anything but plain in Plainview, from signs to shops & more”

  1. beth Says:

    I love all of the signs, and the personal care that was taken with each one

  2. Looks like a neat little town. I will have to visit next time I head to Whitewater State Park! Ely has to be on my list of interesting towns.


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