2023 Readers Recommend

Buy Local

Farmers Market

Saint Paul Farmers Market

A welcoming, open-air forum, the downtown Saint Paul Farmers’ Market now keeps winter shoppers cozy every Saturday using infra-red heat. Two other winter locations and over 15 seasonal metro markets ensure products “locally grown since 1854” are convenient for everyone. SNAP/EBT customers will find a matching program making healthy food more accessible.

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

Independent Bookstore

Magers & Quinn Booksellers

Magers & Quinn is an Uptown and online store with booksellers made up of students, teachers, writers, musicians, artists, athletes, gamers, cooks, parents (of people and of pets), community leaders, and more. Employees share a deep love of books and reading with each other and with their clientele.

Honorable mentions: Birchbark Books, Black Garnet Books, Moon Palace Books, and The Red Balloon Bookshop

Independent Clothing Store

(Tie) Cake Plus-Size Retail, Poppy

Shoppers size XL and up will find fashionable attire at Cake Plus-Size Retail, with individual style consults and a devoted Cake Patreon community that shares life stories and inspirational playlists.

Poppy prides itself on stocking inventory not found elsewhere, with a whimsical flair for casual fashion. Reasonable prices and shelves full of surprises make Poppy an adventure for anyone near the Twin Cities.

Honorable mentions: Queenie and Pearl, and Tandem Vintage

Independent Gift Shop or Toy Store

Primitiva Collective

Founded by Laura Merino-Franco, Primitiva Collective aims to uplift and amplify underrepresented creators and foster a sense of community through regular classes and workshops. Their innovative approach to retail challenges convention by prioritizing collaboration and creating a multi-functional space that evokes creativity, beauty, and inspiration.

Honorable mentions: GoodThings, i like you, Mischief Toy Store, and Patina

Independent Hair Stylist or Salon

Taylor Diebel

Taylor Diebel of FoxFace Studios is a second-generation stylist who enjoys making connections and relationships with clients. An educator as well as a practitioner, Taylor specializes in technical haircuts, balayage, foiling, men’s cuts, and full transformations. Her clients recognize Taylor’s passion for helping them look and feel special.

Honorable mentions: Sabine Bjork and Fox Den

Independent Nail Salon

Nail Ninja

Nail Ninja embodies Minnesota-based nail badassery. Clients are forewarned to be ready for a fast and upbeat environment that plays “music with curse words” and may be inappropriate for small children. From two Twin Cities locations, Nail Ninja offers flawless color applications, cuticle work, and nail art.

Honorable mentions: Beauty Lounge Minneapolis, Happy Nails, Little Luxuries Nail Lounge, and Perfect Nails

Independent Thrift Shop

(Tie) Arc’s Value Village Thrift, Hidden Treasures

Thrifting is considered an adventure sport by some — hunting down treasures for bargain prices at stores who contribute to a good cause. Purchases at Arc’s Value Village provide vital funding for people with disabilities through The Arc Minnesota.

Hidden Treasures supports a local ministry reinvesting in the community. Between the two organizations, there are four Twin Cities metro store locations where priceless gems wait to be discovered.

Honorable mentions: Rewind Vintage and Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores


Minnesota Music Venue

Crooners Supper Club

Conceived as a tribute to the “Classic American Nightclub,” Crooners offers three venues for live music and a meal. Minnesota’s Mary Tjosvold and her late spouse brought a world-class jazz club vision to life on a Twin Cities lake. Crooners is a setting where great food, artistry, and hospitality abound.

Honorable mentions: Dakota, First Avenue, and Turf Club

Minnesota Podcast

It’s Always the Husband

Episodes titled “Bushy Haired, Toupeed Butthole,” “Duct Taped Double Dildos,” and “Cross-Eyed Rick And His Cross-Eyed Dick” are sure to spark interest with true crime aficionados who like a chuckle. Moderators Sarah and Megan provide “a fascinating and humorous look at buffoon husbands, their crimes, and the crazy day-to-day lives of the cohosts.”

Honorable mentions: Island of Discarded Women, MPR podcasts, and On Being with Krista Tippett

Retreat Center or Resort

ARC Retreat Center

ARC Retreat Center offers space for individuals, families, friends, or groups to “plan, pray, reflect, rejuvenate, relax, explore, grow, or be inspired.” With three different lodging options, on-site homemade meals, dozens of acres of nature to explore, and a bookstore, ARC offers a perfect “opportunity for rest and renewal, growth and creativity.”

Honorable mentions: Big Bear Lodge and Common Ground Meditation Center

Theater Company

Theater Latté Da

Celebrating 25 years of presenting original and re-imagined musical theater, Theater Latté Da incorporates values of inclusion, gratitude, and collaboration on stage in Minneapolis. Productions like Next to Normal, We Shall Someday, and Merrily We Roll Along use music to address timely and timeless themes of friendship, mental illness, and oppression.

Honorable mentions: Guthrie Theater, Jungle Theater, and Penumbra

Eat & Drink

Brewery, Distillery, or Winery 

Surly Brewing Co.

In under ten years, Surly Brewing Co. transformed from a niche in an abrasives factory to a Minneapolis Prospect Park facility with brew house, beer hall, beer garden, company store, event center, pizza restaurant, and Festival Field concert venue. Surly brews IPAs like Axe Man and Abrasive for the people of the North.

Honorable mentions: Bad Weather Brewery, Indeed Brewing, Urban Growler Brewing Company, and Waldmann Brewery & Restaurant

Co-op or Green Grocer

Mississippi Market Co-op

Following the Mississippi River as it passes through Saint Paul are three co-op locations full of “high-quality organic, local, and sustainably raised foods.” Mississippi Market Co-op sources scrumptious snacks regionally from vendors such as City Girl Coffee, Hoyo Sambusa, In Town Sushi, Glacial Ridge Growers, and Red Lake Nation Fishery.

Honorable mentions: Eastside Food Co-op, Lakewinds Food Co-op, Seward Community Co-op, and The Wedge


Brunson’s Pub

Brunson’s is the Saint Paul neighborhood pub that welcomes all. Their self-described “eclectic menu” acknowledges the “successive immigrant communities who left their mark on the area.” Seared togarashi tuna, black eye pea hummus, banh mi, and bread pudding tempt patrons of all backgrounds right alongside fried chicken, deviled eggs, and a wedge salad.

Honorable mentions: Chianti Grill, Estelle, Hai Hai, Iron Ranger, Moscow on the Hill, and Myriel


Camp for Kids


From day camps to overnight camps and offerings in between, YMCA has something to excite every child. Families can choose from specialized agendas with horses, sailboats, art, theater, or sports, or sign up for a well-rounded traditional camp and explore a variety of interests. Locations abound throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Honorable mentions: Franconia Sculpture Camp, KidCreate Studio Summer Camps, and Migizi

Place to Take a Creative Class

Pig’s Eye Pottery

Wide open spaces, adult beverages, tactile hunks of clay, and an expert teacher bring out the aspiring artist in almost anyone. Pig’s Eye Pottery classes are for all skill levels and are either held at Great River Gallery or hosted at your location of choice with an onsite workshop.

Honorable mentions: Minneapolis Community Ed and Primitiva Collective

Healthy Directions

Favorite Dentist/Dental Office

Park Dental

Park Dental is doctor owned and doctor led, with more than 125 dentists serving communities through 50+ office locations across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Offering preventive care, fillings, braces, root canals, implants, and even cosmetic procedures, Park Dental professionals are committed to the bright smiles and oral health of their clients.

Honorable mentions: ADT Dental, Minnehaha Falls Family Dental, Rice Creek Dental, and Uptown Dental

Hospice Services

Our Lady of Peace

“Hospice is not just about the end of life. It’s also about living.” Our Lady of Peace in-home and residential services help support family members and caregivers as well as patients so that this challenging time can be gentle and dignified.

Honorable mentions: Allina and Mary T. Inc.

Independent Eyeglasses Store

Spectacle Shoppe

From four metro locations, the Spectacle Shoppe offers complete eye care including exams and a kaleidoscope of glasses frames across multiple genres. Customers select from over 12,000 frame choices to wow and amaze, and with in-house labs, the wait for prescription lenses can be as little as one day.

Honorable mentions: eyebobs, Family Vision Clinic, Look+See, and Specs Appeal

Mental Health Services

Wild Tree Psychotherapy

Metro-area Wild Tree Psychotherapy has three local offices to support Minnesotans “in growing and sustaining strong roots, life balance, and flexibility to adapt to change in this wild world.” Wild Tree mental health practitioners, including Rocky the therapy dog, commit to teaching wellness for a lifetime.

Honorable mention: Ellie Mental Health

Place for Holistic Care

Evren Chiropractic

Evren Chiropractic has a mission “to provide trauma-informed, equitable, and accessible chiropractic care.” Evren’s services include soft tissue mobilization, percussion massage, cupping therapy, low voltage electrical muscle stimulation, taping, intersegmental traction, and adjustment. Based in Minneapolis, Evren is an inclusive healing space built for community.

Honorable mentions: Green Lotus Yoga and Healing Center, and Northeast Wellness

Reproductive Health Care Provider

New Heart Doula Care

Susan Chargo, mother of three, created New Heart Doula Care to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience. Prenatal and postnatal support and education are also part of her passion and go hand in hand with supporting mothers, babies, and partners.

Honorable mentions: Family Tree Clinic, Planned Parenthood, and Twin Cities Birth Center

In Our Community

Arts Organization

Springboard for the Arts

Springboard’s work builds creative people power — connecting artists to resources they need, and communities to their artists. With a comprehensive online presence and physical offices in Saint Paul and Fergus Falls, Springboard desires to see an abundance of artists of all disciplines making a living and a life.

Honorable mentions: HUGE Theater and Jungle Theater

Environmental Organization

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Most Minnesotans know paddling Boundary Waters lakes might yield sightings of loons, moose, walleye, and wild rice. Other jewels hiding in the million-acre treasure include carnivorous pitcher plants, Canada lynx, lake trout, and 24 species of warblers. The Friends’ mission is to protect, preserve, and restore the wilderness character of that precious ecosystem.

Honorable mentions: The Nature Conservancy, Tree Trust, and Wilderness Inquiry

Political Organization

Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL)

The DFL believes that every Minnesotan has a right to stable employment with fair wages, to a proper education, to raise and provide for a family, to accessible and affordable health care, to live in safe communities, and to retire with dignity and security.”

Honorable mentions: UnRestrict MN and Women Winning

Social Justice Organization

Pro-Choice Minnesota

Pro-Choice Minnesota uses education, training, advocacy, and organizing to ensure women have the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. To that end, advocates work with legislators to fine-tune laws and work with young people to train the next generation of activists.

Honorable mentions: Black Lives Matter, Black Visions, Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, and StandPoint

Spiritual Community

Lake Harriet Spiritual Community

Housed in an iconic domed building that is over 100 years old and on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community is “all about LOVE.” Sunday Speakers guide attendees to “experience greater joy through meditation, yoga, drumming, toning, and other interactive methods” and to “live [their] greatest life.”

Honorable mentions: First Universalist Church and St. Joan of Arc

Animal Hospital or Veterinarian

Animal Hospital or Veterinarian

St. Francis Animal Hospital

Woman-owned St. Francis Animal Hospital has core values pet owners can trust: excellence, compassion, dedication, respect, and integrity. Dr. Jennifer Blair, Dr. Jessica Lewis, and Dr. Megan Schommer lead a team of animal-loving professionals to care for pets at all stages of life using a full suite of traditional and integrative services.

Honorable mentions: Grand Avenue Veterinary Center and Nokomis Pet Clinic

Place for Pet Day Care / Boarding

Dog Days

Dog Days is celebrating 20 years of tail wags and tummy rubs. At this woman-owned business, day care dogs play with pals inside and out. Extra options include grooming, puppy development, or trick training. “Next to you, no one is more committed to your pet’s happiness and well-being than we are.”

Honorable mentions: Downtown Dogs, Lucky Dog Pet Lodge, Now Boarding, and Woof Room

Rescue Organization

Secondhand Hounds

Since 2009, Secondhand Hounds has helped find homes for over 26,000 pets (yes, cats too). With experts on hand to help with whelping, veterinary care, identifying foster families, hosting puppy parties, and finding forever homes, Secondhand Hounds rescues animals and commits to adoption, rehabilitation, and hospice care.

Honorable mentions: Animal Humane Society, Cause for Paws, CoCo’s Heart, and Feline Rescue

Professional Assistance


Rachel Schromen — Schromen Law, LLC

At the intersection of legal affairs and life planning sits Rachel Schromen. She and her all-woman team find simple and effective solutions for the most complex matters. Experts on powers of attorney, health care directives, wills, trusts, prenuptial agreements, and more, Schromen Law assists in “pursuit of your life goals, dreams, and legacy.”

Honorable mentions: Mundahl Law, PLLC and Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP

Bank / Credit Union

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

From Winona to Bemidji and from Fargo to Duluth, there are almost 30 physical Affinity branch locations, enabling Minnesotans to do their financial business in person if they choose. With better rates and fewer fees, customers can feel good at banking with a not-for-profit.

Honorable mentions: SPIRE Credit Union, TruStone Financial Credit Union, and Wings Financial Credit Union

Memorial Service/Green Burial Provider

Lakewood Cemetery

Lakewood Cemetery has provided solace on 250 serene acres in Minneapolis for 150 years. Modern memorial events might have traditional graveside services, but they could also include placing messages on a living memory tree, floating custom lanterns on a lake, or making a memory mandala.

Honorable mentions: Crescent Tide Cremation Services and Washburn-McCreavy

Financial Planner

Jennifer Tix — Thrivent

Insurance? Investments? IRAs? Jennifer Tix answers financial questions and crafts plans to bring clients’ dreams and goals to life. Licensed in a dozen states, but with an office in Vadnais Heights, she offers financial solutions that will provide clarity and confidence.

Honorable mention: Jodi — St. Croix Wealth Management

Insurance Agent

Dawn Bartell — American Family

Dawn Bartell and her team use their expertise to insure dreams, protecting Minnesotans’ vehicles, properties, lives, businesses, and farms. They consider their clients trusted friends and neighbors and pronounce: “Together, we’re building strong partnerships that help everyone succeed.”

Honorable mentions: Kimberly Nybo — State Farm and Cassie Sanetra — State Farm


Car Repair Shop

Lloyd’s Automotive

Keeping customers’ cars rolling, whether the automobile was built in Detroit or Seoul or Stuttgart, whether it simply has an internal combustion engine or a hybrid battery, Lloyd’s has a team of experts to maintain or repair that vehicle. The owner’s philosophy is, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Honorable mentions: Brausen Auto Repair and Lancer Automotive Service

Gardening / Landscaping Service

Mother Earth Gardens

Mother Earth Gardens (MEG) nurtures more than seeds and sprouts. MEG’s coaching services help Minneapolitans beautify houseplants and outdoor greenery. MEG offers two Minneapolis locations for green grown goods.

Honorable mentions: Bachman’s, Gertens, Happy Garden Landscapes, and Tonkadale

Home Remodeler

Revolution Design & Build

Finish the basement? Squeeze in another bathroom? Get rid of 1970s tiling? When it’s time to add on, repurpose, or update a home, Revolution Design & Build has an award-winning team to devise and prioritize options. “We listen. The more you tell, the more we can make your home work for you.”

Honorable mentions: Moses Renovation, J&D Builders, and Sylvestre Remodeling and Design


St Paul Pipeworks

Minnesotans are familiar with water outside in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. St Paul Pipeworks knows water inside. Too much, too little, or no water? They promise skilled and courteous plumbers for new projects or repairs. Led by a second-generation master plumber, St Paul Pipeworks will do it right the first time.

Honorable mentions: Soderlin Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning and Tschida Brothers Plumbing


Holly Stomberg — Keller Williams

Focusing on East Metro properties, Holly Stomberg helps people find home, sweet home. For over a decade, Holly Stomberg and the Success Home Team of Keller Williams have facilitated thousands of real estate purchases, sales, and investments. As the lead buyers specialist, Holly “prides herself on making the home buying experience stress-free.”

Honorable mentions: Leah Drury — Sotheby’s International Realty and Amy Ruzick — The No Place Like Home Team