Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Downtown Faribault: Festive & friendly December 13, 2022

One of the many festively-decorated storefront windows along Central Avenue in Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

AS PART OF ITS RECENT WINTERFEST, Faribault Main Street sponsored a Holiday Window Decorating Contest. I love this idea, which inspires downtown merchants to share the spirit of the season in an artistically festive way.

Keepers Antiques always features beautiful window displays, not just during the Christmas holiday. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

Window displays can create a joyful mood that encourages people to step inside a shop, to peruse merchandise and perhaps buy local. We all want to feel welcome when we approach a shop. Creatively-decorated storefronts present an inviting front door welcome that says, “Come on in.”

These simple stars seen in a downtown business window shine light and joy. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

For those who are trying to make a go of it as independent businesses owners, efforts like this can make a difference. A window decorating contest tells me shop owners care and want me as a customer.

In these challenging economic times, supporting local businesses like those in the heart of downtown Faribault is more important than ever. I want to see these entrepreneurs doing well. I want to see vacant buildings filling with new businesses. I want to see a healthy and vibrant business community.

Frosty has always been a holiday favorite of mine, so I really liked this Frosty-themed window display. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

On Saturday, I popped into The Junk Monkey, which recently relocated to a larger space at the corner of Fourth Street/Minnesota State Highway 60 and First Avenue in downtown Faribault. This shop brims with antiques, collectibles, thrift finds and some new merchandise. There’s a lot to take in. I left with a Minnesota-made, Minnesota-themed puzzle. What I love about this store, besides the sheer volume of unique merchandise, is shopkeeper Theresa. She engages with customers in a friendly, yet unobtrusive, way and genuinely loves what she does.

Even the Faribault Community Center set up a window display, including this Santa. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

That can be said for many a merchant in our historic downtown area. A few weeks ago when my second daughter and her husband were visiting from Madison, Wisconsin, we stopped by Cry Baby Craig’s. There Craig’s marketing lead took the time to chat with us about the hot sauces crafted right here in my community. The sauces are wildly popular in the Twin Cities metro. The Wisconsin pair left with three bottles of sauce. I already had mine.

The evening streetscape with December’s holiday lights and decorations is especially beautiful along Faribault’s Central Avenue. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

Half a block away in the 300 block of Central Avenue, artists vend their creations at the Paradise Center for the Arts Holly Days Sale and, across the street, at Fleur de Lis Gallery. Jewelry artist and gallery owner Jess Prill always greets me with a smile and conversation. A few summers ago I ran into Jess, her husband and little girl at the park just up the hill from my house. Her daughter and my granddaughter hit it off, playing together until thunder sent us all scurrying toward home. I love seeing these business owners out and about in my community, part of the fabric of Faribault. Jess also owns the women-run Good Day Coffee right across the hall from Fleur de Lis. I love the energy and enthusiasm this young business owner brings to our historic downtown.

Also women-led are Finally A Gift Store (18 NE Second Street) and Janna’s Market Grill, further down Central. Janna Viscomi has been an important part of the downtown business community for many years. She also serves on the city council.

Love this family theme at Heartman Insurance. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

Across the street from Jana’s restaurant sits third-generation family run Burkhartzmeyer Shoes. This fall Randy purchased work boots there. We can always count on excellent customer service with high-quality footwear and a great fit. Plus engaging conversation reflecting the care and compassion of a much-beloved family.

Any visit to Faribault should include a stop at 10,000 Drops Craft Distillers for a locally-made cocktail or non-alcoholic drink served in a beautiful historic setting that encourages lingering and conversation in cozy spaces. A mural of ice skating on the Straight River adorns the building and is among the many murals found downtown. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

If I sound like I’m pitching downtown Faribault, I am. This time of year especially, when many storefront windows are decorated for Christmas, it’s particularly visually appealing. But even more, I feel comfortably at home here among friendly shopkeepers. And that matters to me.

FYI: This post highlights only some of the businesses in downtown Faribault. There are many more to explore. I’d also encourage you to check out the Eclectic Alliance inside the Faribo West Mall. It features primarily locally-made, collectibles/antiques and more.

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13 Responses to “Downtown Faribault: Festive & friendly”

  1. beth Says:

    this is such a wonderful initiative. so good for the town as a whole, no downside. I love people’s creativity on display

  2. Susan Ready Says:

    What a fun uplifting post to know so many business owners have banded together to create holiday spirit for all.

    • Yes, some really good things are happening in downtown Faribault. Local investors purchased a bunch of buildings and are now working to get them back in excellent condition. Our downtown is full of old buildings and it takes a lot of money to keep them up. I am grateful for this effort and investment in our community.

  3. Our quaint little town does the decorating of the lamp posts throughout the main area of downtown. Obviously the businesses get into decorating the windows of their shops too. Then there is the lighted boat parade, holiday street parade, golf cart parade, Santa comes throughout the whole town on the local fire engine (this takes weeks to get through all the neighborhoods), etc. Then the fireworks will be set off soon enough too. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Valerie Says:

    These look like interesting shops…It would be fun to check them out…but maybe not before Christmas? I’ll see. 😉

  5. We also love to shop local in our little town as much as possible. This year everyone gets a book from Highland Books and a pottery noodle bowl made by local potters. You just never know what you might find in one of these fun shops, that’s for sure!


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