Unique holiday shopping in Southern Minnesota

December 12, 2018

Once the endless errands and obligations of the holiday season start to pile up, it’s easy to fall into a gift-giving rut. With packed schedules and family responsibilities, relying on a standby set of options means one less item on the to-do list. But shopping for out-of-the-box ideas can be an escape and adventure of its own: spend time seeking out tucked away shops and off Main Street boutiques, and you can discover a new culture and community (and stockpile presents along the way). To get you started, here is our 2018 list of unexpected, hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind gift ideas.

For the friend who wears oven mitts more than mittens

­Measuring Cup – Northfield

Snugged onto Division Street in historic downtown Northfield, the Measuring Cup beckons students, parents, and locals alike with tempting window displays of bright cookware, sleek silver utensils, and cookbook covers spotlighting inspiration for your next dish. Although it’s a tiny shop, the Measuring Spoon feels spacious, with sections artfully arranged by cooking type, making it easy to scoop up gifts and goodies. Find everything from the latest gadget to kitchen essentials to jams and spices.

Hours & Contact Into

Monday-Friday 9:30 am – 8 pm

Saturday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

Sunday 11 am – 5:30 pm

320 Division Street S

Northfield, MN 55057


For the Wisconsin Transplant

Cheese Cave  – Faribault

Local cave-aged cheese makes its way from the Caves of Faribault to line the shelves of the Cheese Cave retail store, just across the Cannon River. For the true loyalists, you’ll find plenty of Wisconsin-made cheese too and all the accouterments–cheese knives, graters, and display pieces. Pick a four-variety pack or create your own selection alongside honey from Cannon Falls. (Grab a bag of curds to eat on the way home so you aren’t tempted to touch the gifts).

Hours & Contact Info

Tuesday – Thursday, 10 am – 7 pm

Friday-Saturday, 10 am – 8 pm

318 Central Ave N

Faribault, MN 55021


For the homebody

St. Peter Woolen Mill St. Peter

Wool-filled comforters: the words alone invite thoughts of cozy days, fireplace-flame shadows on living room walls, and noses warmed by swirls of steaming cocoa. Creating these clouds of warmth is the business of St. Peter Woolen Mill, a 150 year-old, four-generations-strong company that sells comforters, throws and pillows. They’re made with custom-processed wool, and anyone can bring in their own wool to be transformed into a one-of-a-kind bedding piece. They also accept heirloom quilts that need some TLC for refurbishment.

Hours & Contact Info

Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm

101 West Broadway

St. Peter, MN 56082


For the nature enthusiast

Sanborn Canoe Company – Winona

Sanborn Canoe Company’s bread and butter is brightly-painted, artisan-crafted canoes—not exactly stocking stuffers (let’s face it, they wouldn’t really even fit on a sleigh). But they have plenty of smaller swag to slip under the tree. Find bright T-shirts, beanies, and camp accessories–think flashlights, mugs, and pocket knives–for the outdoor adventurists in your life. Plus you can peruse the in-store models while you’re picking out gifts and start planning your next Boundary Waters trip.

Hours & Contact Info

460 West 3rd Street

Winona, MN 55987


For the friend who likes to know what the future holds

A Beautiful SoulRochester

From psychic readings to astrology chart design, treat a friend to an afternoon at A Beautiful Soul Boutique for a fun, other-worldly gift. Their shop shelves are stocked with calming and healing lotions, gemstones and herbs, too, so you can gather a bag of treat-yourself items.

Hours & Contact Info

Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-7 pm.

2801 55th Street NW

Rochester, MN 55901


For the eco-conscious friend

Wild Ginger BoutiqueZumbrota

Shop for garments made from organic materials and gifts sourced from fair trade organizations at Wild Ginger Boutique, located in downtown Zumbrota. The boutique specializes one-of-a-kind jewelry, but you’ll find a huge variety of items, including blouses, bags, and more. With an ever-changing inventory and pop-up sales, an excursion to the store is an event in of itself.

Hours & Contact Info

Monday-Friday 10 am – 5 pm

Saturday 9 am – 4 pm

320 Main Street S

Zumbrota, MN 55992


For the kid (or kid at heart)

Whimzy Toys and Party Albert Lea

Located in historic Albert Lea, Whimzy Toys offers a paradise of captivating crafts and toys: plan to schedule some time to wander the aisles. It’s a superlative spot to find stocking stuffers, with a range of items to peruse including puzzles, costumes, board games and more. Plus the store dedicates several aisles to party supplies, so you can pick up entertainment effects for family gatherings and holiday parties in one fell swoop.

Hours & Contact Info

Monday – Friday 10am – 6:00pm

Thursdays 10am – 7:00pm

Saturdays 10am – 4pm

Sundays 12 – 4pm

122 S. Broadway Avenue

Albert Lea, MN 56007


For the Bookworm

Driftless Books– Wabasha

Snugged into downtown Wabasha, Driftless Books is a haven for fans of the fine arts, carrying classic literature and local artwork alongside essential accessories for readers, including mugs, tea and candles. From new releases to kids books, they serve a spectrum of bookworms and host occasional live readings and music.

Hours & Location

Thursday – Saturday 10am – 5 pm

159 Main Street W

Wabasha, MN 55981



By Isabelle Wattenberg

SouthernMinn Scene | editor@southernminnscene.com |
115 5th Street West Northfield, MN 55057