Local Art in The Twin Cities

I just returned from an “Art’s Weekend” in the Twin Cities.  A musical, an operetta and plenty of shopping. The weather was hot and sultry enough to enjoy a cool drink under the shade of an umbrella at a cafe along the river. I had no guilt of browsing indoors to take a break from the heat. One shop in particular was our favorite, it was the subject of a silly conversation when I asked my daughter what her favorite part of the weekend was and she replied “I like you”.  We were caught up in laughter for quite a while when it took me far too long to figure out she was talking about a local shop we had visited.

I Like You is a locally owned small business near the University of Minnesota. If you are ever in the Twin Cities, this shop should be a definite stop. When I first walked in I was struck by the bright colors, the chalkboard signs offset by the brick exterior. The colorful displays drew me in and immediately I was overwhelmed, in a good way, by everything I wanted to look at.  Every inch of space was maximized and created into a  work of art. This store was a visual smorgasbord: an antique card catalog filled with hair accessories, buttons and pins, exposed pipes wrapped with colorful fabric from recycled clothing. It was fun, eclectic and inviting.

Substance One of the first things I saw was a basket of jump ropes. I know what you’re thinking, jump ropes, really? Well I picked one up and they were amazingly substantial.  These jump ropes could be used by a 200+ pound football player or Olympic swimmer with ease. I didn’t realize it at the moment, but these jump ropes were just one of many things in this store filled with hand-crafted goods of substance.

Living a Pure Life is about Choices  If you’ve been reading my past posts, you know that I value substance.  I am just worn out on low-quality, quick-to-satisfy, cheap everything. Our culture is filled with disposable goods, convenient relationships and fast everything. Our marketplace makes it so easy to purchase, use and dispose of things (whether it’s food, household or personal care items) so fast that we hardly have time to consider what  we used, how it will affect us or how that convenience will fill up the landfills. Every time you purchase something you are voting for what kind of world you want, sometimes the effects are short term (like garbage) others are long term (like chemicals making us sick or the effects of pollution on the environment from manufacturing little plastic gadgets).

Works of art have life The I Like You shop is filled with items of substance. Everything is hand-crafted by local artists, over 200 people!  It was as if everything in that store had some life from the artist who created it.  This store has energy.  If the walls could talk, it would be with the stories of each person that created every item.  I felt like everything I touched, admired and studied gave me a glimpse into the life of the person who crafted it. These items were made with care, and I was lucky to shop here.

Now as I look back, I can’t help but think of this in contrast to a dollar store. Filled with plastic, paper and machine-made goods from China. No address, no identity and no character of the original maker.  I want my consumer dollars to count, I don’t want a home or life filled with disposable, short-lived goods or relationships that are here today and in the trash tomorrow because they didn’t stand up to the normal wear and tear of life.  Life is messy, life gets hard but it can be beautiful when it’s filled with substance. I Like You is a shop that reminds me of what is important.  I picked up some fun, functional things, but they are just symbolic of choices I want to make in my life and values I want to pass on to my children.

The Perfect Gift There are thousands of stores across the country similar to I Like You. You most likely have some shops right in your neighborhood that would be worth your while.  A friend of mine, Jessica, who owns Sparrow Collective Gallery in Milwaukee has noticed that more people are shopping in her boutique for unique gifts.  Small businesses like this cannot compete in price alone with major manufacturers in China or even the US, but they often offer quality and personality that cannot compare to mass-produced goods.  If you are looking for a special gift for a wedding, anniversary or birthday, a local artisan shop could provide that one of a kind piece you had in mind.  These businesses are also a direct link to your community, when you shop here it helps build those long lasting relationships, friends.

Do you have a local shop in your neighborhood like this one? Please share, and if you have it, leave the address or link for readers who might be in the area.

I Like You

“Small things for a prettier life”

501 1st Street, NE

Minneapolis, MN

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