2022 Readers Recommend

Buy Local

Farmers Market

St. Paul Farmers Market

Xiong Family Farm, Angry Tomato Salsa, Farm on Wheels, and Mai’s Birds & Veggies — a sampling of vendors available at one of 19 locations of the St. Paul Farmers Market. Open year round and “locally grown since 1854,” the fresh produce market also showcases meats, cheeses, plants, and crafts.

Honorable mentions: Midtown Farmers Market, Mill City Farmers Market, and Northeast Farmers Market

Independent Bookstore

Moon Palace Books

Book lovers unite at virtual or in-store meetings of the Moon Palace Cinema or Queer book clubs. Adapting to the pandemic times, bibliophiles can browse brick-and-mortar store shelves, get their reading material in the mail, download an audiobook, or stop by a pick-up window after ordering online.

Honorable mentions: Black Garnet Books, Magers & Quinn, and Wild Rumpus

Independent Clothing Store


A woman-owned unique boutique, Poppy carries whimsical items hand picked for fun. Novel clothing includes solar system socks, rainbow cuff sweaters with a fringe bottom, “Dog Mom” hats, and rainbow mushroom tunic dresses. Located on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, “Fun Fashion” is also convenient for many.

Honorable mentions: boréal, Cake Plus-Size Retail, and Spoils of Wear

Independent Eyeglasses Store

Spectacle Shoppe

This year marks 45 years of “Eyes on Minnesota” at the Spectacle Shoppe. Spanning the vision life cycle, stores provide comprehensive exams, frames, lenses, and repairs, ensuring a clear-eyed view for all. Spectacle Shoppe offers 12,000+ frames “for every occasion and every personality,” including rare vintage, classic, and designer options.

Honorable mentions: Art of Optiks, eyebobs, and Specs Appeal

Independent Gift Shop or Toy Store


Peggy Merrill “loves textiles, cooking, collecting buttons, and creatively matching jewelry with clothing.” Janet Haugan “loves dogs, children, drinking tea, and putting together interesting displays.” Their store, boréal, is an eccentric reflection of those interests. Customers can delight in browsing one-of-kind artisan jewelry, leather journals, baby board books, and Scandinavian textiles.

Honorable mentions: Corazon and Mischief Toy Store

Independent Hair Stylist or Salon

Tie: Aveda Arts and Sciences Institute/Minneapolis, FoxFace Studios

A treat with a purpose — updating highlights at Aveda Beauty School in Minneapolis or Rochester will “support the education of rising stars.” Aveda clients trust the quality, eco-conscious brand, now with fully vegan products. In Saint Paul, FoxFace Studios’ customers can be “art created, beauty inspired, and culture embraced” while they renovate their personal style in a space that “frees the mind and inspires the heart.”

Honorable mentions: Alabaster to Onyx Salon, MN NAF! Salon, and Pixie Salon

Independent Thrift Shop

Flying Pig Thrift

Heather Valdez loved thrifting. Upon Heather’s passing, her sister resolved to bring to life “a thrift shop in her honor, and give the profits away in tribute to Heather’s generous spirit.” Named after one of Heather’s treasures, Flying Pig Thrift is a nonprofit cooperative supporting social justice and gun violence reduction.

Honorable mentions: Elite Repeat, Encore Boutique, and Rewind


Minnesota Music Venue

First Avenue & 7th St. Entry

Nothing says nightlife in Minneapolis like First Avenue, the iconic club immortalized forever in Prince’s “Purple Rain.” For over five decades, First Avenue has featured new and established musical artists, supporting the notion that “unique, locally owned, live music rooms are imperative to the health of the community and economy.”

Honorable mentions: The Armory, Dakota, Cedar Cultural Center, Orchestra Hall, and Turf Club

Minnesota Podcast

On Being with Krista Tippett

On Being asks: “What does it mean to be human, how do we want to live, and who will we be to each other?” Earning prestigious awards and a large loyal following, the podcast intends to “offer hope, beauty, and courage … for an hour, a lifetime, or across generations.”

Honorable mentions: It’s Always the Husband and Living Healthy and Aging Well

Retreat Center or Resort

ARC Retreat Community

In a pine forest setting, ARC Retreat volunteers strive “to welcome you home, to nourish your mind, body, and soul with quiet contemplation, homemade meals, and valued conversations.” Offering trails, a labyrinth, and a lake, the community serves groups or individuals in a “sacred space for guests to reflect, renew, and heal.”

Honorable mentions: Pacem in Terris and Rootsprings

Theater Company

Guthrie Theater

For over 50 years, the Guthrie has represented Minnesota’s deep connection to culture. Curating a calendar and artists with a commitment to “a more just and equitable society,” diverse Guthrie offerings range from classic Jane Austen and adapted Dickens to productions that boldly confront “issues of race, immigration, [and] deindustrialization.”

Honorable mentions: Jungle Theater, Theater Latté Da, and Mixed Blood Theatre

Eat & Drink

Brewery, Distillery, or Winery 

Urban Growler Brewing Company

Women-owned Urban Growler makes “drinkable beers that get people talking,” because individuals “always seem to find that they are more similar than different.” Note that parties may still differ on whether they prefer a chilled glass of Vanilla Latte Blond Ale, Rock Hop Fresh Hop, or English Oatmeal Stout.

Honorable mentions: Surly Brewing Co. and Twin Spirits Distillery

Co-op or Green Grocer

Tie: Mississippi Market Co-op,
Seward Community Co-op

The Twin Cities are lucky to have two amazing co-op organizations — Mississippi Market Co-op in the east and Seward Community Co-op in the west. Both help Minnesotans find affordable nourishment from local sustainable producers and both are committed to their community. Mississippi Market offers discounts on Wellness Wednesdays and believes “good food brings us together.” Seward helps shoppers buy responsibly, labeling items that best align with co-op values.

Honorable mentions: Eastside Food Co-op and Lakewinds
Food Co-op


Young Joni

Young Joni’s wood-fired pizza menu presents a trip around the world — starting at Old Reliable and moving on to Basque, La Parisienne, Amalfi Coast, and Korean BBQ. Non-pizza-eaters might choose New Caledonia Prawns or Thai Sausage. The grand finale? A happy Minnesota dessert ending — Church Basement Cookie & Bar Plate. 

Honorable mentions: Alma, Iron Ranger, and Red Cow


Camp for Kids

Tie: Adventures in Cardboard, Leonardo’s Basement

Minneapolis-based Adventures in Cardboard (AiC) and Leonardo’s Basement both engage children’s wildest imaginations. AiC uses fantasy stories “to re-inspire community-oriented and creative outdoor play” and brings participants to places like “Idir Na Droichid” and “Achaea” (a.k.a. Minnehaha and Kenwood Parks). Leonardo’s uses the power of invention to inspire kids to “become curious lifelong learners” and helps them turn someone’s leftover PVC tubing into a ladder using teamwork and power tools.

Honorable mention: YMCA Widjiwagan

Place to Take a Creative Class

Pig’s Eye Pottery

Pig’s Eye Pottery in Great River Gallery inspires experienced artists and would-be potters to get their hands wet and morph a lump of clay into art. Two-hour classes for four people or more (up to 20) include “wheel-throwing experience with wiggle room for socializing and checking out the gallery.”

Honorable mentions: Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Northern Clay Center, Wet Paint, and The Workshop Mpls

Place to Take a Class for Personal or Professional Growth

The Loft

Writer’s block? Maybe these classes can help — “The Joy Workshop: Writing Beautiful Poems in Hard Times,” or “Evil and Empathy: How to Create Complexity in Villains and Other Characters,” or “Moments into Memoir.” Over 5,000 authors learn at the Loft, “one of the nation’s leading independent literary centers.” 

Honorable mentions: Alliance Française, The Coven, and Rich Chicks NW2 Mastermind Group

Healthy Directions

Favorite Dentist/Dental Office

ADT Dental

This Minneapolis women-led dental office partners with clients, building a “relationship that results in a lifetime of optimal dental health, comfort, and appearance.” Open for 11 hours most weekdays and offering in-house insurance to cover preventive care for families, the ADT Dental team strives to keep “your smile healthy and beautiful.”

Honorable mentions: Fiant Dental, J & D Dental, Metro Dentalcare, and Minnehaha Falls Family Dental

Hospice Services

Our Lady of Peace

Testimonials affirm that “Compassion, Dignity, Inclusivity, Presence, Peace, Diversity, Excellence, [and] Stewardship” guide Our Lady of Peace hospice staff providing end-of-life care and comfort to patients and families. Hospice services are available in a 21-bed residential setting in Saint Paul or “wherever the patient calls home” within the seven-county metro area. 

Honorable mentions: Adoray Home Health & Hospice, Hospice of the Midwest, N.C. Little Hospice, and Northfield Retirement Community 

Mental Health Services

Wild Tree Psychotherapy

An all-woman team (except for Rocky the therapy dog) at Wild Tree Psychotherapyhelps clients “get well, stay well, and discover [their] inner strength.” Wild Tree therapists want patients of all ages and walks of life to “experience support, encouragement, and accountability,” and they are available in person or virtually.

Honorable mentions: Cedar Hill Therapy, Hope Rising Family Services (Jocelyne Collette), The Family Development Center, and Relate Counseling Center (Lisa Conway) 

Place for Holistic Care

Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

Penny George survived breast cancer and credits a foundation of integrative medicine for her recovery. Her namesake organization offers classes and a wide range of services including nutrition counseling, pediatric holistic medicine, wellness coaching, and acupuncture. Not just for the Twin Cities, the Institute offers integrative care at 20 locations statewide.

Honorable mentions: Healing Elements and Jennie Hoglund, Classical Homeopath

Reproductive Health Care Provider

Planned Parenthood

Sixteen Planned Parenthood health centers in Minnesota provide women (and men) with quality health care to meet their needs. Clinics offer primary care, pregnancy testing, birth control, emergency contraception, HIV services, mental health care, and more. Recognized as sexual health experts, Planned Parenthood claims Minnesotans can “ask us anything. Seriously.”

Honorable mentions: Family Tree Clinic and Health Foundations Birth Center + Womens Health Clinic

In Our Community

Arts Organization

Springboard for the Arts

Springboard says it all: “Think big, start small.” They “support artists with the tools to make a living and a life [to] build just and equitable communities full of meaning, joy, and connection.” According to Springboard, “An artist is anyone who thinks creatively about the world and their dynamic place in it. Artists are essential.” 

Honorable mentions: Minneapolis Institute of Art and Textile Center

Environmental Organization


To avoid a climate catastrophe, MN350 says earth needs to have less than 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Current levels are 400 ppm and increasing. MN350’s mission is “fighting climate change on a local level to create a just and healthy future for all.” 

Honorable mentions: Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Friends of the Mississippi River, and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Political Organization

Democratic Party (DFL)

Long ago, in 1944 Minnesota, the Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party merged and became the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Today’s DFL platform reflects that heritage, prioritizing “the political rights of all citizens through fair elections,” recognizing that “the family farm is the keystone of our society,” and promoting the “rights of all workers.”

Honorable mentions: League of Women Voters, TakeAction Minnesota, and Women Winning

Social Justice Organization

Gender Justice

Led by executive director Megan Peterson and deputy Tana Hargest, Gender Justice “envisions a world where gender does not determine anyone’s value or worth, and is not a barrier to opportunities or ability to thrive.” Their chosen tool to make that vision come true? “Advancing gender equity through the law.” Go team, go! 

Honorable mentions: African American Leadership Forum, Domestic Abuse Project, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Take Action Minnesota, and Women’s Prison Book Project

Spiritual Community

Tie: First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, Unity Church

These two churches have common values, embracing Unitarian Universalist principles and sharing an emphasis on inclusion. First Universalist claims a “track record of standing on the side of love, justice, and peace.” Unity Church “encourages lives of integrity, service, and joy.” 

Honorable mentions: Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, and Church of St. Frances Cabrini


Animal Hospital or Veterinarian

Grand Avenue Veterinary Center

Grand Avenue Veterinary Center provides comprehensive care for canine and feline family members throughout their lives. The skilled team performs exams, surgery, dentistry, nutritional and behavior counseling, and even acupuncture while communicating with “humor, fun, passion, and honesty.” Pets can even have a virtual appointment and keep their owners socially distanced.

Honorable mentions: Lake Harriet Veterinary, Minnehaha Animal Hospital, Pet Central Animal Hospital, and University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center

Pet Supply Store

Chuck & Don’s

Chuck & Don’s is “dedicated to holistic pet wellness” and admits to being “obsessed with nutrition.” The stores sell food prepared any way imaginable: air dried, freeze dried, gently cooked, raw, wet, or grain-free. The community shares their research and products with pet owners in the spirit of well-being for all.

Honorable mentions: Pet Evolution, PetSmart, and Urban Tails
Pet Supply

Place for Pet Daycare / Boarding

Dog Days

Dogs have pals too. Many would rather not lie around waiting for their “best friend” to wrap up another work-from-home teleconference. Dog Days can fix that. “Whether your dog is a shy wallflower, a social butterfly, or a ball chasing lover, they will be loved, cared for, and safe at Dog Days.”

Honorable mention: Downtown Dogs

Rescue Organization

Animal Humane Society

Cats, dogs, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and even gerbils — all kinds of animals get a new chance for a forever family through the Animal Humane Society (AHS). Committed to ensuring pets have a long and happy life, AHS assists with behavioral training, socialization, veterinary care, and alternatives to re-homing. 

Honorable mentions: Feline Rescue, Secondhand Hounds, and Safe Hands Rescue

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Professional Assistance


Leann J. Johnson, C.P.A. — Lethert, Skwira, Schultz & Co. LLC

Leann Johnson is a partner in a firm that has been “helping business conduct business” for well over a century, and she personally has accumulated almost 20 years of hands-on accounting wisdom. Leann takes care of accounting headaches for both individuals and businesses, including audits, taxes, tax planning, and QuickBooks consulting.

Honorable mentions: Better Indeed Group, LLC, Karen R. Palm C.P.A., and Pitzl & Pitzl 

Estate Attorney

Rachel Schromen — Schromen Law, LLC

Rachel Schromen manages the legal work relating to Minnesotans’ milestones. Planning for when family members are added or lost, or someone’s health status changes, Rachel creates or adjusts the proper formal documents. This enables the right people to make important decisions and ensures assets are used as intended. 

Honorable mentions: Jeffrey Scott — Scott + Hespen Law and Rebecca Bell — rb LEGAL

Family Attorney

Mundahl Law PLLC

Mundahl Law firm attorneys work “with individuals in despair or in unworkable circumstances, helping them rise up from the ashes like a phoenix.” In other words, they handle divorces, separations, family mediation, child custody, LGBTQ+ family law issues, paternity, estate planning, and more — because “life is all about relationships.”

Honorable mentions: Cylkowski Law Office, P.A. (Eagan) and Ryan Blumhoefer and Tricia Lancaster — Schmitz, Ophaug, Blumhoefer & Yahnke, LLP (Northfield)

Bank / Credit Union

Wings Financial Credit Union

Over 80 years ago, seven Northwest Airlines employees founded Wings Financial. Those Minnesota roots crept across all 50 states to serve members and add new ones, but Wings still has “a small community feel” with “the size and scale to offer superior pricing and service.”

Honorable mentions: Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, SPIRE Credit Union, and Sunrise Banks

Memorial Service/Green Burial Provider

Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens 

Choosing a sea grass or bamboo casket and using natural embalming oils and alcohols help to eliminate the toxins placed in the earth using traditional burial products. Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens makes it “possible for you to literally become part of the land preservation.”

Honorable mentions: Bradshaw Funeral Homes, Crescent Tide Cremation Services, and Washburn-McReavy

Financial Planner

Joan Gilles — Financial Planning Partners

How to set financial goals. How to budget. How to save. How to avoid debt. How to invest in the future and plan a legacy. With close to 30 years of experience helping clients manage their money, Joan Gilles still feels her job is “energizing, rewarding, and just plain AWESOME.” 

Honorable mentions: Chad Lund — Cetera Investors, Mickey Mikeworth — Mikeworth Consulting, and Jennifer Tix — Thrivent

Insurance Agent

Hanna Cox Connor — Cox Insurance

Cox Insurance is “here to help you direct your future.” With almost 10 years experience, Hanna Cox Connor helps “you reach your goals with the confidence that you, your family, and your business are protected.” Hanna is a full member of the local community, living within three blocks of the office.

Honorable mentions: Mary (Ginny) DeSanto, Natalie Lyon Agency, and Pamela M. Petersen Agency, LLC 


Car Repair Shop

Alexander’s Imports Auto Repair

The mission for Alexander’s Import Auto Repair is “to be your trusted automotive advisor.” Minnesota drivers can find specific symptoms and recommended repairs on their website, and learn about timing belts, suspensions, exhaust systems, and scheduled maintenance. Alexander’s ASE-certified mechanics “take care of your car like it is our own.” 

Honorable mentions: Rodriguez Auto Services and Roering
Auto Body

Gardening / Landscaping Service

Trio Landscaping

Patios and pavers. Plantings. Fire features. Lighting. Decks, fences, and pergolas. These are just some of the landscaping options Trio Landscaping can help bring to life. Woman-owned by Diana Grundeen, Trio can help imagine an urban or large-yard landscaping plan and take the idea from consultation through design and into reality. 

Honorable mentions: Mother Earth Gardens and Sheila
the Gardener

Home Remodeler

Brynn Alden Interior Design

During an addition or remodel, Brynn Alden is committed to “Designing your desire!” Specializing in kitchen and bath design, their experts also help with furniture, artwork, and paint. “No job is too big, no job is too small, floor to ceiling, and wall to wall — Brynn Alden Interiors does it all.” 

Honorable mentions: Castle Building & Remodeling and Terra Firma Building and Remodeling


St. Paul Pipeworks

Who wants to worry about rain in their living room? No one!
St. Paul Pipeworks has experts that ensure clients can remain leak- and worry-free. Their plumbers will help “decide what repairs are worth making, what products will last the longest, and the smartest way to utilize your plumbing budget.”

Honorable mentions: Dana Hoagland Plumbing, Inc. (Hopkins), Lilly Plumbing, LLC (Lake Crystal), and Tschida Brothers Plumbing


Leah Drury

Facilitating real estate sales and purchases of any price point, Leah Drury “understands the neighborhoods, arts communities, and family resources that define and enrich our area.” She lives near Minnehaha Creek and serves clients with an “exceptional knowledge of the entire metro area and a passion for urban living.” 

Honorable mentions: Team Kathy Borys — Coldwell Banker, Sandy Cleland REaltor — RE/MAX Results, and Holly Stomberg, Real Estate Agent at Success Home Team — Keller Williams