Kate and I walked downtown for Merch Madness and we found some friendly shopkeepers, some great deals, and some yummy food.
We started at Duluth Public Library, which I know is not a shop, but still immense fun. We checked out two editions of Do it Green Minnesota. From there to food: How Sweet It Is for me, and India Palace for Kate. Prices are up, slightly, at HSII, and I don’t know if that pulled back from my enjoyment, or whether there’s a larger change. (I did order the less expensive white bread, which is probably less flavorful.)
A specially fun moment for me: we stopped at Jitters and I ran into an old student. Jitters isn’t the best coffee in Duluth, nor is it the awesomest hours/location (we only get in once in a great while because they close relatively early, before parking is easy). But once you are inside, you remember why you like this place. First, the walls are covered with (I presume local) art. Nice to see a local coffeeshop reaching out that way. And second, the staff, at least today, were energetic and helpful. The young woman (the former student who was in my professional writing class) was one who rings in the memory because she already knew a lot of what the class was designed to teach. She’s sharp and she’s talented and when the time comes for her to join the professional community in Duluth (I’d bet as a dynamite worker, eventually a leader, in a local nonprofit, perhaps using her women’ studies degree), whatever organization picks her up will have caught a brass ring.
From there: To the Electric Fetus, where I grabbed a copy of the City Pages. They are remodeling from their flood, but don’t let that stop you, come in! We wanted to visit Full Moon, but they were moving! We visited the Minnesota Wine Exchange, a place we might visit after filling up on $4 burgers at the TapHouse. MWE impressed us by carrying Alexis Bailly wines — for us, a Minnesota wine favorite. Kate bought a dress at 25% off at Ragstock. Finishing that intersection, we hit Double Dutch. We noticed that they carry Minerva, a zine written about by Ed Newman on his blog earlier this week, produced by UWS and Harbor City Rollerdames alum. The young worker behind the counter talked with us at length about her own passion for writing — it was cool. We visited the two locations of Art in the Alley, a former Superior fave.
While the deals were awesome, the creativity at every place, from Happy Space to the Alley, was the highlight of our afternoon. If you have not yet spent a day downtown, think about it. I got more exercise than I ever get at Target, more conversation than I ever get at home, and more of a sense of why I live here.