2020 Readers Recommend

634 people filled out the Minnesota Women’s Press annual readers’ survey. Here are the results.

Note that because of COVID-19, we delayed the May announcement of our 2020 Readers Recommend winners (formerly What Women Want) until we returned to print distribution. Our state has changed dramatically since this survey taken by more than 600 readers closed in February. Minnesota Women’s Press honors the winners chosen by our readers, but cannot guarantee that every business is currently in operation.

Thanks to the Arc Retreat Center for supplying the prize in our drawing for Readers Recommend entrants. Congratulations to Shelley Jacobson, winner of a weekend getaway.

Buy Local

Favorite Farmer’s Market

St. Paul Farmers’ Market 

To feast your senses on “Farm Fresh Flavor,” you set out for an adventure at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market and find a rainbow of locally grown produce and humanely raised meats. With almost 20 summertime locations and several throughout the winter, this market is not just for St. Paul.

Other sensory banquets you explore include: Midtown Farmer’s Market, Mill City Farmers Market, and Minneapolis Farmer’s Market.

Favorite Independent Bookstore

Moon Palace Books

Where do you go to “rock ‘n roll all night, read every day,” and eat pizza? Moon Palace Books of Minneapolis. In this unique space, you not only get new and used books, but you also enjoy the Geek Love Cafe. Housed inside the bookshop, it adds live music and sourdough pizza with an organic spinach salad to your reading experience.

You also check out the shelves at Magers & Quinn, Red Balloon Bookshop, and Wild Rumpus.

Favorite Independent Clothing Store


A fresh face in this year’s reader recommendations for unique and creative clothing is boréal. Co-owned by Peggy Merrill and Janet Haugen, their store offers comfortable and eclectic clothes as well as gifts and home goods. Their new venture is open in Bibelot’s original location in St. Anthony Park. 

Cake Plus-Size Resale, GoodThings, Poppy, and Primp Boutique further contribute to your wardrobe.

Favorite Independent Eyeglasses Store

Spectacle Shoppe

Spectacle Shoppe is your choice for eye exams, short turnarounds on new lenses, and repairs of your favorite frames. You especially enjoy their enormous selection of modern or vintage frames, and their in-house labs that create custom glasses with features like tinted lenses and blue light filters.

Other stores that help you see clearly include: Invision Distinctive Eyewear, iWare Northeast, and Specs Appeal.

Favorite Independent Gift Shop


The owners of the new women-owned store, boréal, have a long local history and their gift-buying talents shine in a shop where you find everything from puzzles to lefse stickers to AOC and RBG socks. Boréal, meaning “north or northern,” delights you.

You get additional gifts at GoodThings, i like you, and Patina.

Favorite Independent Toy Store

Mischief Toy Store

Toys and birthday parties are not just for children. You chose Mischief with its “rebellious selection of games, books, comics, toys, pop culture memorabilia, gifts, adventure gear, jewelry, candy, and kinetic toys.” Mischief delights with wonders for all ages.

Your inner child also plays at Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, Creative Kidstuff, and GoodKids.


Favorite Minnesota State Park

Itasca State Park

It is no surprise that your favorite Minnesota State Park is Itasca. This northern Minnesota park is where you can walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River on a log as well as hike, bike, ski, snowmobile, snowshoe, paddle, and swim. 

Likewise, you enjoy the natural beauty at Afton State Park and Gooseberry Falls State Park. 

Favorite Place To Lodge

Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior

A Swedish immigrant’s house overlooking Lake Superior became Minnesota’s oldest resort and your favorite place to spend a night away from home. You like the ability to choose from a room in a historic lodge, cabin, or condo — all near the great lake with year-round outdoor activities.

The Grand View Lodge Spa and Golf Resort is your second favorite home away from home.

Favorite Retreat Center

ARC Retreat Community

When you seek seclusion and a calm ambience, you escape to the lodge or a cabin at the ARC Retreat Community. You love that ARC offers a “reflective atmosphere” for people to “slow down the pace of life, restore balance, and grow on their spiritual journey,” not to mention their delicious homemade meals.

Other places you pursue peace include: The Christine Center, Dunrovin Christian Brothers Retreat Center, Journey Inn, and Shire in the Woods.

Favorite Travel Agent or Service

AAA Minneapolis 

Dreaming of Tahiti, Boston, or Yosemite? Planning a trip by plane, train, or automobile? Looking for an action-packed guided tour, an all-inclusive beach stay, or a DIY vacation? No matter what your personal or business travel goals look like, your favorite place to get guidance is AAA Minneapolis.

Como Rose Travel is your second favorite business to help you navigate the globe.

Eat & Drink

Favorite Bakery

Patisserie 46

Whether you want traditional comfort food like hot tea and a chocolate bon bon, or you are more adventurous and ready to try grignotines and affogado, you know you are accepted at Patisserie 46. You relish the welcoming vibe that “allows you to feel both fanciful and folksy at the same time.”

Rustica Bakery, Sarah Jane’s Bakery, and Wuollet Bakery also stock tasty temptations.

Favorite Brewery, Distillery, or Winery

Urban Growler Brewing Company

Minnesota’s first women-owned microbrewery is your top recommendation for adult beverages. At Urban Growler, you find innovative beers made from locally grown ingredients, including wild rice from Red Lake. Their tap room serves “Growler Grabbers” and “Brew Food” so your dinner appetite is also satisfied.

Other favorites include: Bad Weather Brewing Company, Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Indeed Brewing Company, and Surly Brewing Company. 

Favorite Co-op or Green Grocer

Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op

You fill your cart at Mississippi Market, where you know they offer healthy produce and meats, sustainably grown, and often sourced nearby. They even sell honey from a producer that harvests hives located on top of the West 7th location’s roof. Food doesn’t get more local than that.

You also get your greens at Hampden Park Co-op, Lakewinds Food Co-op, Seward Co-op, and Wedge Community Co-op.

Favorite Place to get Coffee or Tea

Caribou Coffee

Minnesota’s home-grown success story, Caribou Coffee, is where you kick back and sip hot or cold beverages in a cozy setting. Whether you like coffee, tea, smoothies, cider, or hot chocolate, Caribou is your choice. You can even take home a growler full of green tea lemonade or cold press iced coffee.

You top off your mug at these establishments too: Dogwood Coffee, Dunn Brothers Coffee, Starbucks Coffee Company, and TeaSource.

Favorite Restaurant

Birchwood Cafe

When it’s time to let someone else do the cooking, you treat your taste buds at Birchwood Cafe, where they “celebrate eight seasons” of fresh menu items from local farmers. Birchwood spent decades cultivating a community, and now “people drive from miles around to feel right at home.”

Alma, French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, and Young Joni also serve up savory suppers.


Favorite Educational Camp For Kids

Science Museum of Minnesota

With session names like Practical Potions, Dinomania!, Wizard School, and Wonka Week, it’s clear why you choose the Science Museum of Minnesota for summer day camp. The curriculum entices your kids into learning while they create cleaning concoctions, discover dinosaur bones, master magic tricks, and cook up candy. 

Your kids also love Concordia Language Villages and YMCA camps. 

Favorite Minnesota University or College

University of Minnesota

If you add up 31,000 undergraduates, 16,000 graduate and professional students, and over 18,000 faculty and staff members, you get 65,000 Golden Gophers. Off campus, over 225,000 alumni are part of our Minnesota workforce. With such strong connections to a nationally respected institution, it’s no wonder your favorite is the University of Minnesota.

Augsburg University, Macalester College, St. Catherine University, and University of Minnesota Duluth are other favorites for higher learning.

Favorite Place to Take a Class

University of Minnesota

Your preferred place to take a class is one of only five schools in the nation to support engineering, veterinary, medical, law, and agricultural schools all on the same campus. Add in a robust professional development program and courses offered in person or online — you can learn anything at “the U.”

You also train your brain in Community Education courses and at The Loft Literary Center.

Favorite Pre-K Educational Program

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)

You believe in lifelong learning and it is never too soon to start. Early Childhood Family Education in Minnesota has classes for parents and their children from birth to kindergarten. You love that courses often provide parent education, time to spend learning alongside your children, and sibling care.

Dodge Nature Center and Montessori toddler programs also support your family’s educational needs.

Healthy Directions

Favorite Dentist / Dental Office

Centennial Lakes Dental Group

You place confidence in the Centennial Lakes Dental Group to care for your dental health. You select from a wide array of services that include preventive care, smile restoration, cosmetic procedures, and even more complex dental solutions. Centennial has two locations and strives to find treatments that fit your life and needs.

You also trust your oral care to Minnehaha Falls Family Dental and Park Dental.

Favorite Elder Service

Elder Voice Family Advocates

Making hard decisions for yourself or an elder loved one requires accurate data from facilities providing needed services. Elder Voice Family Advocates helps ensure incidents of maltreatment and abuse are investigated and results are publicly reported. Facilities are held accountable to improve and your family can find quality care with reliable records.

Wilder Community Center For Aging — Amherst H. Wilder Foundation also tops your list for supporting seniors. 

Favorite Mental Health Care Service

HealthPartners Health Center for Women

With a specialty focus on women, it makes sense that your favorite mental health providers are at the HealthPartners Health Center for Women. Whether you have a chronic condition or a situational crisis, they “know that mental health is just as important as physical health” and they provide “compassionate support and treatment.” 

You find care and support at the Associated Clinic of Psychology, Family Development Center, LLC, and PrairieCare.

Favorite Place for Holistic Care

Healing Elements

You know that Healing Elements is not only a yoga studio. They offer many paths in pursuit of their goal to help you “find your most vibrant self.” You can attend nutrition seminars, get a massage, buy organic herbs, do energy work, or even get guidance from an astrology reading.

Holistic care also draws you to Allina’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Minneapolis Pathways Inc., and Northeast Wellness.

Favorite Place for Personal Fitness


You enjoy a variety of activities to improve personal fitness and you know where to find them. Circuit training? Check. Exercise classes? Check. Cardio equipment? Check. Swim lanes? Check. Free weights? Check. Family lockers? Check. Ball courts? Check. You get the picture and you choose YMCA.

Life Time Fitness and YWCA also provide great workout options for you.

Favorite Reproductive Health Care Provider

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is your one stop shop for reproductive health care: wellness and preventive exams, labs and tests, vaccinations, or specialized services. You depend on their reliable experts to advise and educate on everything from mammograms and pelvic exams, to birth control and emergency contraception, to LGBTQ+ care and miscarriage support.

Other providers that have your confidence include Family Tree Clinic and New Heart Doula Care, LLC.

In Our Community 

Favorite Arts Organization

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Its impact is much wider than a world-class art museum. The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) is woven into the community like a valuable tapestry. Mia partners with schools and provides resources for teachers, hosts classes for all ages, offers free open studio sessions, initiates neighborhood projects, and more.

Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Northern Clay Center, Textile Center, and Walker Art Center also advance the interests of art.

Favorite Social Justice Organization

Elder Voice Family Advocates

You appreciate Elder Voice Family Advocates and their vision of a “society that values elders and vulnerable adults with abuse-free, respectful care.” The organization works to improve legislation, quality of care, and knowledge of critical issues facing older residents and their families.

Additionally, you support the social justice advocacy of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota and YWCA Minneapolis.

Favorite Spiritual Community

First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

You nourish your soul at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. Their stated aspirations of living “joyfully and ethically, in loving, reverent relationship with humanity and nature” align with your lifestyle. Other community features unite congregants in support of social justice, child and adult education, seasonal celebrations, and music. 

You also find community at Common Ground Meditation Center, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, and Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality.

Minnesota Leadership 

Favorite MN Business Leader 

(Tie) Beth Ford Nancy Lyons 

You tip your hat to Beth Ford, who became the first openly gay woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she took over the reins at Land O’Lakes in 2018. The company’s ad campaigns, “She-I-O” and “On Her Farm,” have highlighted women farmer’s contributions. Likewise, Nancy Lyons, owner and CEO of Clockwork, has your respect and national acclaim for championing “human-centered approaches to business.” Lyons’s motto is “think strategically, act thoughtfully, and be a good human.” 

You also admire the leadership of Kim Bartmann of Bartmann Group, Joy McBrien of Fair Anita, and Elaine Wyatt of WomenVenture. 

Favorite MN Political Leader 

Senator Amy Klobuchar 

Your favorite Minnesota political leader, Amy Klobuchar, became the first woman representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. A recent study from Vanderbilt University ranked Sen. Klobuchar as the most effective Democratic senator in the last Congress. Medill News Service reported that she ranked first in the Senate with the most bills led or cosponsored enacted into law in the 114th Congress. 

You are also quite proud of the history made by Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and Representative Ilhan Omar, ensuring Minnesota women’s leadership is diverse and growing. 

Favorite MN Environmental Activist 

Winona LaDuke 

Winona LaDuke earned your accolades for her passionate defense of nature. “Honor the Earth uses Indigenous wisdom, music, art, and the media to raise awareness and support for Indigenous Environmental Issues,” and is “committed to restoring a paradigm that recognizes our collective humanity and our joint dependence on the Earth.” 

Ann Bancroft of Ann Bancroft Foundation is an additional activist working to ensure the health of our planet. 

Favorite MN Leader in Racial Equity 

Nekima Levy Armstrong 

You recognize Nekima Levy Armstrong’s efforts to further the civil rights of all. Adding to her intense record of activism, Levy Armstrong founded Black Pearl, “a consulting firm specializing in racial equity, problem solving, community engagement, and public relations.” The group provides online resources and does in-person and remote trainings and workshops. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Minneapolis City Council member Andrea Jenkins are additional advocates for equity in Minnesota. 

Out on the Town

Favorite Festival

Minnesota State Fair

The “Great Minnesota Get-Together” celebrates the best our state has to offer. Livestock, horses, handcrafts, baked goods, talents, and produce are some of the Minnesota-grown marvels on proud display at the fair. We will miss them this year.

You love these other classic Minnesota gatherings: In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre’s May Day Festival, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and the Twin Cities Pride Festival.

Favorite Live Music Venue

First Avenue

You endorse First Avenue as the premier place to tune in to Minnesota’s thriving music scene. You love to see old favorites and discover new ones at this historic venue.

You go back for more music at The Cedar Cultural Center and Dakota.

Favorite Museum

Minneapolis Institute of Art

You enjoy free admission to Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) where you peruse world class exhibits from Minnesota and the globe. With a majority-women leadership team, Mia regularly features women artists and themes in exhibits like Mapping Black Identities, Storytelling: Julie Buffalohead, and Captive Beauties: Depictions of Women in Late Imperial China.

You love to explore the engaging and varied exhibits at Bell Museum, Minnesota History Center, and Science Museum of Minnesota.

Favorite Theater Company

Guthrie Theater

When you want to escape with a compelling story on a stage, the Guthrie Theater is your choice. With over five decades of Twin Cities performances, the Guthrie provides classic and innovative theatre and a community of art and artists you can be proud of.

Additionally, you patronize productions at Jungle Theater, Penumbra Theatre, and Theater Latté Da.


Favorite Animal Hospital or Veterinarian

St. Francis Animal Hospital

Whether your pet is furry or feathered, and whether your pet needs traditional veterinary care or something more unique, you favor St. Francis Animal Hospital. You admire that St. Francis has spent nearly 30 years establishing good relationships with people and their pets. 

Lake Harriet Veterinary and VCA Animal Care Hospital also provide confident care for your critters.

Favorite Pet Supply Store

Chuck and Don’s Pet Food and Supplies

When you shop at Chuck and Don’s, you are part of a pet owner community. Stock up on food, take a class, pick up a toy. When your family pet needs to bulk up, slim down, or maintain, you ask an expert at Chuck and Don’s. They admit to sampling the food themselves sometimes. 

Your pets also approve of Petco and PetSmart.

Favorite Place for Pet Daycare / Boarding

Dog Days

Every day is a dog’s day at Wendy Harter’s dog daycare and boarding businesses. You know at any of the three Dog Days locations, your best furry friend will find play pals of the human and canine kind. The Dog Days staff “just love dogs, plain and simple.”

Your pets also stay and play at Metro Dogs Daycare, Now Boarding, and The Woof Room.

Favorite Place for Pet Training Classes

The Canine Coach

In addition to traditional obedience classes, you enjoy the creative list of specialized courses at The Canine Coach, such as: Disc Dog Games, Holiday Manners, and Confidence Building for Shy Dogs. Whether in group classes or private training, The Canine Coach teaches both dogs and owners some new tricks.

You and your pooch team up to train at Go Anywhere Dog and Twin Cities Obedience Training Club.

Favorite Rescue Organization

Animal Humane Society

You applaud Animal Humane Society (AHS) efforts to “compassionately and responsibly create a more humane world for animals.” AHS minimizes the number of animals without homes and provides education and veterinary care. For those that “have nowhere else to go,” AHS helps pets find “love, security, and a family to call their own.”

Feline Rescue, Inc., Safe Hands Rescue, and Secondhand Hounds all have your respect for improving animal well-being.

Professional Assistance

Favorite Accountant

Fox Tax

Located in Northeast Minneapolis, with a commitment to “help make a business out of art and also make an art out of business itself,” Fox Tax is your top choice. Fox Tax specializes in working with creative entrepreneurs for tax services.

Additionally, you get financial fortification from Bridget McKelvey of Johnson & Company Ltd. and Maggi Schiller of Block Advisors.

Favorite Attorney

Rebecca Bell 

You choose Rebecca Bell, founder of the all-women firm rb LEGAL, LLC, as your favorite attorney. Her unique interests include hospitality topics, equine business, and farm/cabin issues; she draws on those to provide estate and succession planning. Bell and her associates pride themselves on making time to focus on each individual. At her firm, members “stay away from the clock” and “take the time to listen.”

Elizabeth Cloutier of Cloutier Law Offices P.A. also helps meet your legal needs.

Favorite Bank / Credit Union

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

Your favorite credit union has the motto: “Not for profit. For people.” With 28 branch offices serving coffee and cookies, Affinity Plus treats members with care and provides personal and business banking as well as financial and estate planning. 

Likewise, you move money through Spire Federal Credit Union, Sunrise Banks, and Wings Financial Credit Union.

Favorite Co-Sharing Space

The Coven

Looking for a women-owned workspace with “power and energy?” You selected The Coven as a supportive environment where you know “what it feels like to belong.” With locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, “The Coven is an inclusive community of 500 women, non-binary, and trans folx from all walks of life.”

You also set up shop at ModernWell and Work It Coworking.

Favorite End Of Life Resource

(Tie) Jane Whitlock, N.C. Little Hospice

As life draws to a close and families face fears, you look for guidance from those who have walked this final path before. “Death Doula Jane” Whitlock and N.C. Little Hospice provide physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment for people who are dying and for those who love them.

Honoring Choices Minnesota and Our Lady of Peace are additional sources of strength during the challenges at the end of life.

Favorite Estate Planner

Alexia Miles 

For assistance with wills, trusts, or estate administration, you turn to Alexia Miles of rb LEGAL. Described as a problem solver, Miles helps you protect and preserve your assets, ensuring your wishes are followed. rb LEGAL says, “We don’t just give you a piece of paper. We give you peace of mind.” 

Chandler and Brown, Ltd. is another estate planner that helps you secure your legacy.

Favorite Financial Planner

Joan Gilles 

When it comes to money management, you count on Joan Gilles of Financial Planning Partners to guide you toward your goals. Whether your focus is on retirement, emergency funds, college savings, or a small business, she listens and finds you “every option to solve your problems.” Joan Gilles ensures that you live “without financial fear.” 

You also build your savings with Fidelity Investments and with Heather Bantle of Foster Klima.

Favorite Insurance Agent

Davina Baldwin 

Davina Baldwin of State Farm Insurance in Brooklyn Park earned your recommendation for favorite insurance agent. Whether you need to safeguard your home, your car, your property, your business, or your life, Davina Baldwin helps “people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams.” 

Another source of protection is Dash Leander of Farmers Insurance.


Favorite Bike Shop

ERIK’S Bike · Board · Ski

Your favorite bike shop sells, rents, and services all kinds of bikes, and even advises on sizing and fit for your unique cycling needs. From smart trainers to saddles, ERIK’S offers you the best in bicycle parts, accessories, apparel, electronics, trailers, tools, racks, and more. 

Freewheel Bicycle and The Hub Bike Co-op also stock wares for your wheels.

Favorite Car Repair Shop

(Tie) Lloyd’s Automotive and Park Service

When you have a car you rely on to move you and your family, you want to trust who is doing the maintenance and repair. From big problems to used car inspections, these repair shops have your back. Good thing you trust Lloyd’s Automotive and Park Service to ensure your fleet is ready to roll.

Your chariots also find quality mechanics at Signal Garage Auto Care. 

Favorite Gardening / Landscaping Service

Trio Landscaping

Expanding your sanctuary outside of physical walls? Diana Grundeen, owner and lead designer of Trio Landscaping, is your go-to green thumb. You leverage Grundeen’s extensive credentials and hire Trio for an expert consultation, a robust landscape design, or a full project lifecycle.

Bachman’s Floral, Gift & Garden, and Mother Earth Gardens all assist in bringing your outside dreams to life.

Favorite Home Remodeler

Terra Firma Building and Remodeling

To make your home improvement dreams come true, you selected an employee-owned company committed to quality and community. Terra Firma says, “[Our work] is a reflection of our personal character and integrity. … We love what we do. We care about our product, we care about our craftsmanship, and we care about people.”

You also work with White Crane Design:Build for remodeling and renovations.

Favorite Moving Service 

Two Men and a Truck 

Your favorite moving service is there “to help you with managing your relocation stress.” You pack, they pack, they train you to pack — whatever works with your time and budget. For business and residential, Two Men and a Truck does “the heavy lifting so you can worry about what matters most.” 

Good Stuff Moving also helps you get the contents of your home or office transferred to your new address. 

Favorite Plumber 

(Tie) Bonfe® Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical and Ron the Sewer Rat 

When everything is working well, you take modern plumbing for granted, but when your tub runs over? That’s when you call a reliable expert, stat. You endorsed two such outfits this year — Bonfe® and Ron the Sewer Rat, who both have your complete confidence to deal with drains and clear the clogs. 

St. Paul Pipeworks also has the skills to get things flowing. 

Favorite Realtor 

Leah Drury 

Leah Drury of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty works with an all-women team to help you achieve your residential home-buying or home-selling dreams. As a lifelong resident in the Minneapolis area, she “brings an exceptional knowledge of the area and a passion for urban living.” Your favorite agent and her team are “neighborhood realtors for urban nesters.” 

You work with two additional agents on your real estate adventures: Susan Bonne Anderson of Keller Williams Realty – Integrity Lakes, and The NoPlaceLikeHome Team of ReMax Results. 

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