Welcome to the 2022 PDD Holiday Gift Guide, highlighting products made in the Duluth area that one might wrap in paper and put under a tree. It features 15 items, as usual, but the comment area is open for limitless other suggestions. Or email the editors at info @ perfectduluthday.com.
OMC Smokehouse or Tig’s Rubs and Sauces
Enjoy well-researched yet homebred barbecue flavors anytime with the OMC Smokehouse‘s packaged sauces and meat rubs. The OMC cookbook, started as a fundraiser to help neighborhood development, would be a generous gift pairing to help guide cooks to use the products.
Zesty Honey BBQ Sauce, 20 oz., $8.99. Alabama White Sauce, 16 oz., $10.99. Malt Vinegar Aioli, 12 oz., $8.99. Hot Chicken Seasoning, 6.5 oz., $13.99. Pork Dry Rub, 16 oz., $19.99. Poultry Rub, 16 oz., $19.99. OMC Smokehouse Cookbook, $29.95. These are just a few of dozens of locally-made products available at Duluth Kitchen Co. in the Fitger’s Brewery Complex, 600 E. Superior St. Owner Adam Blatzheim said he’s always looking for sources of local products, as well as providing things that customers have requested. Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. OMC products can also be found at OMC Smokehouse, 1909 W. Superior St.; Goat Hill Marketplace, 1832 W. Superior St.; Blue Heron Trading Co., 394 S. Lake Ave.; and Super One Foods in West Duluth, 5300 Bristol St.)
Another barbecue product on the Duluth Kitchen Co. shelves is Tig’s, recipes invented and produced by local business owned by Troy “Tig” Fralich. The business started in 2016 as a side gig, serving at events at Bayfront Festival Park. Tig’s produces three BBQ sauces and two seasoning rubs. After selling them to friends, production was increased to keep up with demand. Fralich said a new website is in the works for next year to improve online sales. Gift packs are available at Wrazidlo’s Old World Meats, 226 S. Basswood Ave.; and Fredenberg Minno-Ette, 5109 Fish Lake Road; or look for their booth at the ice fishing show at the DECC, Dec. 9-11. (Being able to say you bought someone’s gift at any of those locations just adds to the fun.) Sauces are 12 oz. for $9.99; rubs are 11 oz. for $14.99.
“Duluth’s Grand Old Architecture 1870–1940: Buildings, Homes, Bridges, Landmarks”
This hardcover, 336-page book is a foot wide, weighs more than 4 pounds and was a decade in the making. Author-historians Tony Dierckins and Maryanne C. Norton have featured 420 historic photos and sketches of more than 300 buildings, some still standing, some long gone.
Flipping through its pages had me pondering how Duluth residents used to build schools that looked like castles, how, in 1900, Duluth had three synagogues, serving mainly immigrants from Russia and eastern Europe, and how this little Hillside house I drive by almost every day was built in 1880 and used to be the carriage house of a mansion built by one of Duluth’s founding families. I can’t stop looking up sites on Google maps to see how they look now. I won’t win any awards for copywriting when I say it, but this book is really, really neat.
Check out the bookshop, and take a peek inside, at zenithcity.com.</ Price: $60. The website includes some sweet deals if you buy the book plus previous books published by Dierckins, including historical looks at Duluth’s parks and breweries.
For a list of more local books visit the PDD post “Duluth Book Releases in 2022.”
Classes at Mix Cosmetiques
They’re in the PDD calendar all the time, but have you ever stopped by Mix Cosmetiques to make your own lip gloss, lotion or bath bombs? You could make products to give as gifts, or really “level up” the gift by making the experience itself a fun mother-daughter afternoon, or something to do with the grandkids. (Many classes can be enjoyed with children, though making soap has an age minimum of 12.)
Founder Lanae Rhoads touts the products as organic, cruelty-free, with no synthetic fragrances or phthalates. Workshop participants choose their own scents and colors to create products on-site, then package them up to take home that day.
“You’ll discover how much you love natural, plant-based options for your skin care and makeup,” she said via email.
Classes range from about $30-$60 and can be 1-2 hours long. Visit mixcosmetiques.com to wade through the long list of available classes.
Simple Gifts Maple Syrup
The company is called Simple Gifts Syrup & Salmon, but we’re just talking about the syrup today. Years ago, I was part of a group of families who toured the Rogotzke sugar bush a couple miles northeast of Duluth. I’ll never forget the anecdote about how deer will leap over the long stretches of blue tubing that transport the tree sap to collection tanks. Moose, however, will plow right through, tearing the pipelines from the trees. It’s a real mess.
Dave Rogotzke started his tour by explaining that he doesn’t think of himself as owning the land. People have lived there before and will live there after he’s gone. But for now, he, together with family and friends, is the steward of the forest. It was a nice vibe that I appreciated. Rogotzke said 2022 was a record year for the company, yielding 1,432 gallons of “beautiful maple syrup.”
Simple Gifts syrup is locally made, high-quality and sealed into nice-looking jars, providing top gift-giving points. If you order through the website, simplegiftssyrupandsalmon.com, prices are $7 for a half-pint, $13 for a pint and $20 for a quart. The products are also on the shelves at Whole Foods Co-op and Mount Royal Fine Foods.
Whether you “knew them when” or are new to know them, it’s a fun day when Trampled by Turtles releases a new album. From little kids who love manically dancing to banjo music to old folks who love bluegrass, the forever-claimed-by-Duluth band enjoys wide appeal. An article published on Halloween by Rolling Stone takes readers from the band’s beginning at Sir Ben’s to the kind of popularity that will sell out Bayfront Festival Park. “It’s a brave new look for string music,” writes Garret K. Woodward, “which some argue is becoming the new rock & roll.” The 11-track album was released Oct. 28. It’s available to send digitally as a gift for $9 on Bandcamp. It’s also on streaming services, and sold on CD and vinyl via Amazon. For more local music gift ideas visit the PDD post “Duluth Album Releases in 2022.”
Zenith City Bookstore Logo Sweatshirt
Represent the western, non-lift-bridge side of town with this Zenith City Bookstore sweatshirt, which also can be a conversation starter. You can explain that “Zenith City” dates to the 19th-century hope that Duluth would be the best city on the Great Lakes. You could remark on how the logo looks both like the books inside the story and the bricks out front. This shirt speaks to an experience a little less touristy than many other Duluth logo choices.
Visit the store at 318 N. Central Ave. It’s open every day, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., except for closing at 4 p.m. on Sundays. Sweatshirts are $49.95. Forest green is pictured. It’s also available in sandstone, navy and light gray. Best given wrapped around a book.
Wee Kicks Baby Booties
If you know someone with a young child, you have the opportunity to give them a pair of booties sewn on a treadle machine inside an ice-fishing hut. It doesn’t get any more Northland-weird than that.
Wee Kicks are all-leather shoes handmade in Ashland, Wisconsin. The company’s Facebook page includes a video depicting the scene I described, and I don’t think it’s a joke. I found them at Whimsy in Fitger’s Inn, 600 E. Superior St. “They go quickly when we get them,” said store clerk Barbie Howard. The booties cost $38-$40 and come in six sizes, from 6 months to 3T. Patterns include Lake Superior, the Big Dipper, Minnesota and Wisconsin, kayaks, hearts and more.
Whimsy is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun. You also can order online at solekicksfootwear.com.
A Second Key
Not everyone appreciates a gift that’s too practical. But not long ago, a four-pack of toilet paper would have been a welcome gift, so let’s not ignore the importance of context. With that in mind, let’s talk about something practical and expensive.
Tom Vecchi of Minnesota Locksmith said he sees it all day long, people losing their one and only car key, to the tune of 10 cars a day. On the day I stopped by, it was about 3 p.m., and they were “on car 5 or 6 right now,” he said.
I’m old enough to remember when a replacement key cost $3. But that isn’t the math anymore. Vecchi pointed at my Camry key, which I was having copied.
“These are $500 at the dealer,” he said. “We sell them at $250. If you only have one of these, and you lose it, it’s, like, three to four times that amount, so you’re up at 750 to $1,000 if you lose your last one. It’s only $250 to add one if you have one.”
He added $60 for labor, so I was basically spending $300 on one key. So you could give your partner some bath bombs or a wallet, sure, but you also could wrap up a little box and say, “Happy Holidays, honey! I got you that key you’ve been needing!” That’s my kind of “old married couple” holiday.
33 W. Central Entrance. 218-722-3294. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Psychobilly Design Decals
These colorful vinyl stickers by Duluth artist John Hanna feature outdoorsy topics and could be easily stuffed into a stocking or tucked into a greeting card for that uncle who owns a boat or son-in-law who drives a truck. Topics include colorful fish, state outlines and parody logos.
Hanna pulled his company name from a Johnny Cash song and has christened six boats with the same name. He enjoys the outdoors and brings nature themes into his work. “I feel blessed with the ability to bring my experiences to paper with ink, sharing with others my vision of the adventure,” he said via email.
The decals are sold at Marine General, 1501 London Road; Frost River, 1910 W. Superior St.; and Northwest Outlet, 1814 Belknap St., Superior. Prices range from $4.99 and $5.99 for small decals, $15.99 for the really big ones. You can see more on the artist’s Instagram, @psychobillydesign, which he shares with his wife, Launa.
This beautiful, minimalistic artwork is not actually a painting, but a photograph by Paul Treuer, who makes images of the views along Park Point. Treuer published a book in 2019 filled with his work, all taken along the Lake Superior shore. Prints of this piece are $150.
Master Framing Gallery owner Krista Carson has filled her store with dozens of artworks that depict Northland scenes. The store provides framing services, and sells both framed and unframed prints.
Parking is available behind the building, which allows customers to avoid the stairs out front of this old Duluth home-turned-business. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday at 1431 London Road.
Duluth Cider Plush Dog Toy
“Share your favorite drink with your best friend,” plugs Duluth Cider in its online store. This plush, squeaky dog toy is a replica of the “Gitch” cider can and costs $16. It sports the cidery’s smart logo and the Aerial Lift Bridge. It’s also available in the store, at 2307 W. Superior St. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Here’s what happens when a Duluth rock hound makes jewelry. Artist Tiffany Powers features natural gemstones, local Lake Superior agates, vintage finds and crystal glass beads in her handmade earrings, necklaces, bracelets, body jewelry, sun catchers and ornaments. The name of the shop, Musidora, means “gift of the muses.”
“Inspiration and muses for my jewelry come to me from history, mythology, the cosmos and nature,” Powers said via email.
The Lake Superior agates in Powers’ work have been found and polished by her. Follow Powers on social media @musidora.adornments, where she also accepts custom orders. The one-of-a-kind earrings pictured are $33 at musidora.net.
Bent Paddle Christmas Cookie Cream Ale
Brandon Call, owner of Mount Royal Bottle Shoppe, 1602 Woodland Ave., put me on the trail of this seasonal favorite beer.
“Last year, we got all we could,” he said. “It sells out very fast.”
Pour a glass, and “notes of vanilla, almond & cardamom mingle with a cream ale malt profile for that sweet cookie goodness,” according to the Bent Paddle website. The brewers suggest you drink it while eating cookies. The festive box is perfect for anyone not wanting to bother wrapping a gift.
The beer is due to be released in mid-November, said Jennifer Hansen, Bent Paddle communications coordinator. It will be sold in cans and on tap across Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Crowlers and growlers will be sold in the Bent Paddle taproom, 1832 W. Michigan St., paired with a commemorative Bentleyville ornament. From each of those sales, $5 is donated to Bentleyville, Duluth’s annual outdoor holiday lights display in Bayfront Festival Park. Hansen suggested people use the company’s beer finder to check availability. Taproom hours: Noon to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thurday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
White Winter Winery Mead
White Winter Winery locally produces Holiday Harbor, a spiced, dessert-style mead inspired by the Polish spirit called krupnik. “It is a perfect sipper for sitting in front of the fireplace, have it over ice cream with shortbread cookies or add an extra kick to eggnog,” manager Selena Hamilton suggested via email. A 500 milliliter bottle is $30.95.
The Iron River business also sells cider and wine using locally grown fruits and honey. An imported glögg is flavored with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and citrus.
The store is about 45 miles east of Duluth, 68323 Lea St. A., Iron River. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. You also can shop online at whitewinter.com.
Spirit Lake “Manoomin” Wild Rice
Make those Minnesota hot dishes even better with authentic wild rice. Or send some love out-of-state. Some people haven’t even tried this homegrown delicacy, ya know. Wild rice is just one of the Native foods sold at the American Indian Community Housing Organization’s Indigenous First Art & Gift Shop at 202 W. Second St. or online at indigenousfirst.org. Harvested in Sawyer, Minnesota, in the Ojibwe tradition by Spirit Lake Native Farms, one pound costs $23. Store hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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