10 Great Central Minnesota Businesses to Buy Your Christmas Gifts This Year
We're undoubtedly in the thick of the busiest shopping season of the year, and there are more options than ever before. With the rise in popularity of such shopping holidays as “Small Business Saturday,” many people are now opting to spend their money at local, independently owned shops. With this in mind, we here at WJON suggest you look into some of the locally-made products we've been featuring over the last few months via our “Made in Central Minnesota” series. Many of these entrepreneurs are busy making a host of unique things that just might fit perfectly on your shopping list. So, let's take a stroll through the last few months of our “Made in Central Minnesota” series and see what we can find.
First, we have John Stein of Alpaca Multi Purpose Carriers. Stein designs and assembles car-mountable carriers for bikes, skis and more out of his shop in Kimball. Most of what Stein creates, he ships himself to shops around the country who have become Alpaca dealers. However, you can find him online – or call him at 320-764-2221. He has a few after-market and older models he’s selling at a discount.
Next, we have Gilded Gears of Avon. Emily and Rebekah Sather are a team of sisters creating Victorian-style jewelry from their home, which they sell exclusively online. The sisters are committed to designing unique and affordable jewelry from found objects like old watches, which they say can be dressed up or down for any occasion.
Another unique and locally-made option comes from the Jennings Decoy Company. The St. Cloud business hires local artists to carve and paint artisan decoys, a variety of urns, and decorative ducks and other wildlife. You can drop by their shopfront on Franklin Avenue, or visit them online to see the variety of styles they offer.
The chances are fairly good that someone on your shopping list is a coffee junkie, so you might be interested to know that they're a local option for hand-roasted coffee beans in St. Cloud. Muggsy Lauer, owner of Muggsy's Beans, roasts and packages a dozen varieties of beans every day in his warehouse space in St. Cloud, to be sold in a whole list of local businesses and restaurants. For the line-up and spots to find Muggsy's Beans, check out his website.
While we're discussing beverages, there's also a local option when it comes to wine. Millner Heritage Vineyard and Winery, outside of Kimball, may be in the off-season for grape growing, but they have a large inventory of all kinds of regional wines for sale in their shop. They also have tasting and touring hours through the winter – for more, check them out online.
If there's someone on your list who likes scented candles, we have another featured business to share with you. Lisa Pfannenstein is the owner/operator of Briar Patch Primitives of Holdingford, and creates candles, potpourri and other crafts which are shipped all over the country. While Briar Patch Primitives isn't a retail shop, Pfannenstein sells her own wares and others from her shopfront, Briar Patch Mercantile, in Waite Park. Check them out online here.
And speaking of arts and crafts, you can find both in St. Joseph at Bruno Press. Mary Bruno runs her printmaking studio from her garage, writing and designing cards for all occasions, custom-made posters, t-shirts and more. Bruno's operation isn't exactly an official retail shop, but her easy-to-navigate website has a shop online option.
For the culinary set, there's definitely an extremely unique gift option located in Long Prairie. Leatherwood Vinegary makes and sells around 50 varieties of fruit and herb-flavored wine vinegars – the only one of it's kind anywhere in the United States. Owner Nancy Leasman has even written and published a book on the art of vinegar-making, and says they have sold and shipped their products all around the world. You can check it out for yourself at their website.
A slightly larger-ticket local item, but it's worth your while to scope out Viking Log Furniture of St. Joseph. They design and build many different pieces of custom rustic and log furniture. They have a lot of information on products and dealers on their website, so to learn more, go online and see for yourself.
And, last but not least, you might not need to hit a busy department store to take care of the cosmetics aficionado on your list. Purple Prairie Botanicals of Clearwater creates all natural skin care products, including soaps, lotions for face and body bug spray and sun screen. You can see even more of what's on the shelf at Purple Prairie by visiting their website.