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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But I’ve never seen a sign for Howling Goat soap illustrated with goat and wolf props.
Nor have I seen an ASH TRAY on the side of a building, my most unusual find of the afternoon in downtown Plainview.
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