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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.