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2024 Readers Recommend

You told us. We tell all. Announcing your favorites from the annual Readers Recommend poll.


Buy Local

Farmers Market

Saint Paul Farmers’ Market

For 170 years and counting, Saint Paul Farmers’ Market has been on a mission to provide fresh, local (vendors must grow within 100 miles of Saint Paul city limits), and quality produce and products. The market isn’t limited to Saint Paul in the summertime: there are multiple locations across five counties and year-round market options for all-seasons shopping.

Honorable Mentions: Audubon Farmers Market, Midtown Farmers Market, Northeast Farmers Market

Independent Bookstore

Moon Palace Books

There’s nothing quite like ducking into Moon Palace Books in south Minneapolis on a rainy day and being immersed in their world of perfectly curated titles and literature- and pop-culture-inspired gifts. Moon Palace has also proved to be a destination for those seeking thoughtful discussion about the intersection of books and social justice at author conversations and identity-based book clubs.

Honorable Mentions: Birchbark Books, Black Garnet Books, Next Chapter Booksellers, Red Balloon Bookshop

Independent Clothing Store

Cake Plus-Size Resale

Nestled between Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis, Cake Plus-Size Resale has got the goods when it comes to cute, affordable, and accessible clothing. They’ve also created a vibrant community around the shop with events, private shopping parties, and in-store pop-ups featuring local artists. Book a private “style session” with a member of the Cake management team for help finding your look and sizes, as well as helpful feedback on fit in a judgment-free space.

Honorable Mentions: b Resale, Hazel & Rose, Nokomis Shoe Shop

Independent Gift Shop or Toy Store

The Mustache Cat

Specializing in curated vintage and modern home goods, Saint Paul’s Mustache Cat’s ever-changing inventory means there’s always something fresh to find — be it funky coasters, cute notebooks, or housemade wood-wick candles. Plus, their “unique take on vintage” allows customers the option to swap previous vintage purchases for store credit when it’s time for something new.

Honorable Mentions: boréal, GoodThings, Mischief Toy Store

Independent Hair Stylist or Salon

Cryptid Hair Parlour

It’s clear from the photos of past clients where Cryptid Hair Parlour’s slogan of “where the imaginary is made real” comes from: dreamlike color combinations wave through customers’ hair, and surreal art (like a taxidermied rabbit affixed with deer antlers) adorns the studio’s walls. But hair isn’t all; Cryptid now offers massages and waxing in addition to hair cuts, coloring, and styling — all at their funky Northeast Minneapolis location.

Honorable Mentions: Petite Salon, Spalonge Montage Edina, Studio Alles

Independent Thrift Store

TIE: Hidden Treasures Thrift Store,

Southside Vintage

Hidden Treasures aims to be more than just a thrift store — it’s also a place where people in the process of recovery and reentry after incarceration find employment. There, a faith-based network of employees, volunteers, and those who donate gently used possessions work to “enhance the lives of all the neighbors we come in contact with.”

Southside Vintage offers an eclectic mix of mid-century and 1970s- style furniture and decor at a sunny, welcoming shop in the heart of south Minneapolis. In 2022, they were named the best thrift shop in Minnesota by Apartment Therapy for their curation, restoration, and staging skills — thanks in part to co-owner Susan Donnelly’s background in art direction.

Honorable Mentions: Everyday People Clothing Exchange, Friends in Need Food Shelf, Legacy Thrift


Diversions

Music Venue

First Avenue

First Avenue is synonymous with Minnesota nightlife. The mainroom continues to be the place to see touring bands, dance the night away to local DJs, and generally immerse in a legendary Minneapolis atmosphere. First Avenue also continues to be locally owned and operated — and with a total of six timeless venues across the Twin Cities, there’s something to fill your calendar on nearly every night of the week.

Honorable Mentions: Hook & Ladder, Orchestra Hall, Palace Theatre

Minnesota Podcast

The Gender Justice Brief

Without the Gender Justice Brief, Minnesotans would be left adrift in the increasingly volatile world of legal happenings that affect our rights to freely express and embody gender and sexual orientation. From check-ins about what to look out for in the upcoming legislative session, to deep dives into supreme court cases and “fake abortion clinics,” the Gender Justice Brief amplifies experts from its parent organization who are working to advance gender equity through the law.

Honorable Mentions: Early Risers, Minnesota Goodbye, Wine & Crime

Retreat Center or Resort

TIE: Cove Point Lodge,

The Fields at Rootsprings

Cove Point, set on 3,000 feet of Lake Superior shoreline, bridges Minnesota Northwoods and Scandinavian charm. Guests can choose from private cottages or an expansive lodge and explore the many nearby trails, beaches, and forests.

The Fields at Rootsprings offers a different kind of retreat. Rather than using the rural landscape as a gateway to relaxation, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, activists, and healers come to the space to “heal with the land,” by immersing themselves and tending to the center’s abundant gardens and forests. Rootsprings also offers guests a stay in cozy hermitages with access to a wellness center and water-based activities.

Honorable Mentions: Naniboujou Lodge & Restaurant, Pacem in Terris, Shire in the Woods

Theater Company

Guthrie Theater

While the Twin Cities is resplendent in theater companies big and small, there’s nothing else like the award-winning work of the Guthrie Theater. What started with a 1963 production of Hamlet — and an underlying motivation to bring world-class theater to an audience outside of New York City — has spanned over 60 years of delighting audiences and enriching the Twin Cities theater community with educational workshops and special symposiums.

Honorable Mentions: Chanhassan Dinner Theatres, Ten Thousand Things Theater, Theater Latté Da


Eat & Drink

Brewery, Distillery, or Winery

Urban Growler Brewing Company

Minnesota’s first woman- owned microbrewery is first and foremost a place to gather. Their slogan of “bringing people together through beer” happens at the cozy, brick-covered Saint Paul taproom where friends gather for book club, professionals network during happy hour, and artists of all types meet for a little paint and sip. Their latest original brew is a delightful series of hazy IPAs.

Honorable Mentions: Arbiter Brewing, Saint Paul Brewing, Surly Brewing Co., Tattersall

Co-op or Greengrocer

Mississippi Market Co-op

Alongside the co-op staples of locally sourced products and bulk goods, you’ll find community-focused classes on gardening with native plants, cooking Ethiopian cuisine, and skin care for the winter months. At Mississippi Market Co-op’s three Saint Paul locations, the connection between health, food, and the environment has always been core to the mission, coupled with supporting local nonprofits with a portion of sales.

Honorable Mentions: Eastside Food Co-op, Lakewinds Food Co-op, Seward Community Co-op, The Wedge Community Co-ops


Education

Camp for Kids

Camp Fire Minnesota

Just 30 minutes from the Twin Cities, campers and students at Camp Fire Minnesota are able to connect with nature in more than 100 acres of woodland on the shore of Lake Minnewashta near Excelsior. Whether kids attend for after-school programming, overnight summer camp, school field trips, or nature-based preschool, Camp Fire Minnesota is on a mission to make outdoor ed as accessible as possible, and offer a range of scholarships.

Honorable Mentions: Adventures in Cardboard, Camp Lebanon, YMCA

Place to Take a Class

Moxie Malas

The jewelry doesn’t just look pretty — it is “wearable affirmations” that promote internal healing and peace. Workshop participants handcraft their own bracelet talismans and learn about the chakras and crystals connected to each one. Before each workshop, participants are guided to move toward their best selves as they choose healing crystals.

Honorable Mentions: Alliance Française MSP, Minneapolis Community Education, Roseville Area Schools Community Education


Healthy Directions

Dentist / Dental Office

Park Dental Edina

Park Dental’s Edina location’s long list of long-time, loyal customers (they’ve been in business for over 30 years!) is the result of their focus on creating a comfortable, friendly space where people of all age groups can learn how to work toward a more confident approach to oral health. Additionally, their early morning, late evening, and Saturday hours make booking a breeze even with a busy schedule.

Honorable Mentions: Mill City Dental, Rice Creek Dental, Uptown Dental

Gym or Yoga Center

YMCA

Is there anything more rejuvenating than spending a weekend getting caught up on fitness at the YMCA? Or watching your kids learn to swim for the first time at the Y pool? Or attending a ForeverWell aerobic class, or playing volleyball with the YMCA adult league after work? At over 20 locations across the metro, the paths to health and wellness are many, but the YMCA’s mission to foster youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility remains the same.

Honorable Mentions: Kelly Lewis Jazzercise, Laurel Yoga Studio, SWEAT with Jess at Los Campeones

Hospice Service

Our Lady of Peace Hospice

Our Lady of Peace provides hospice care — wherever home may be. Their Medicare-certified 21-bed residential hospice and in-home hospice and home care programs provide end-of-life and medical recovery care guided by compassion and faith, with a mission to serve everyone, regardless of means.

Honorable Mention: Beyond Hospice

Independent Eyeglasses Store

Spectacle Shoppe

The people at Spectacle Shoppe get that eyeglasses aren’t just something you put on your nose and forget about. They are avenues to express your unique approach to life — and win a few compliments. At four Twin Cities locations, customers find a unique assortment of retro, designer, pop-art, classic, and vintage frames to suit any style. Plus, they’ve got experience serving Minnesotans for over 40 years.

Honorable Mentions: Moss Optical, Perspectives Vision Clinic, Roseville Eye Associates

Place for Holistic Care

Green Lotus Yoga and Healing Center

Green Lotus Yoga and Healing Center was founded in 2007 by two Minnesota women eager to bring a seemingly simple piece of wisdom to their community: grow from the inside out. By 2014, they had trademarked and expanded across the metro. Now thousands of practitioners and teachers create community as they explore healing through yoga, massage, acupuncture, psychotherapy, and a licensed teacher training program.

Honorable Mentions: Healing InSight, Sunu Wellness Center, TCM Health Center

Reproductive Health Care Provider

Twin Cities Birth Center

Unlike traditional hospitals, birth centers can serve families looking for a more homelike facility (that still exists within a health care system) complemented by a personalized wellness model of birth and pregnancy. At Twin Cities Birth Center, comfort is a top priority, and clients are able to access prenatal, lactation, 24/7 midwifery, and postpartum wellness care in a deluxe environment with the “service levels of a boutique hotel.”

Honorable Mentions: Family Tree Clinic, Planned Parenthood


In Our Community

Arts Organization

Mia

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has been a staple in the lives of art-loving Minnesotans for over 140 years. Whether you’re there on an elementary school field trip, to catch a world-class touring exhibit, or in search of an uplifting antidote to a gray winter day, Mia’s more than 90,000 works of art spanning 20,000 years of world history are viewable free of charge.

Honorable Mentions: Fresh Eye Gallery, SooVAC, Taikoarts Midwest

Environmental Organization

Friends of the Boundary Waters

The mission of Friends of the Boundary Waters is simple: protect the Boundary Waters and connect people of all backgrounds to the wilderness, so that this and future generations benefit from the special place. Their vision of a permanently protected BWCA and Quetico ecosystem includes fighting copper-sulfide mines at the legislature, ensuring everyone feels comfortable accessing this spectacular resource with the No Boundaries to the Boundary Waters program, and attempting to bring more jobs to the surrounding region through wilderness outfitting and gear manufacturing.

Honorable Mentions: MN350, Reuse Minnesota, Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi

Political Organization

TakeAction Minnesota

TakeAction Minnesota is the self-described hub for Minnesota’s progressive movement. Working to elect candidates and on non-election years continuing to support bills, canvass, and organize communities around a shared goal, Take Action’s multigenerational and multiracial grassroots operation is building a people-powered movement toward a government and economy that work for everyone.

Honorable Mentions: DFL, Gender Justice, OutFront Minnesota

Social Justice Organization

Gender Justice

Founded in Minnesota, Gender Justice works across the Upper Midwest to dismantle legal, cultural, and structural barriers that contribute to gender inequity — whether that be litigating court cases, advising state policy, or building a coalition of like-minded organizations to take down Minnesota’s restrictions on abortion access. Their core areas of focus include economic justice, reproductive freedom and justice, freedom from gender-based violence, and trans and LGBTQ+ liberation.

Honorable Mentions: Jewish Voice for Peace, OutFront Minnesota, UnRestrict Minnesota

Spiritual Community

Edgecumbe Presbyterian Church

Saint Paul’s Edgecumbe Presbyterian Church prides itself on being an inclusive community where everyone is welcome. With fewer than 50 members, this small congregation enjoys services that combine contemporary and traditional music and messages. During the summer months, they take worship outside to the “natural outdoor sanctuary” in the woodland behind the church. There is a “Racial Justice and Me” group that builds anti-racist education and initiatives because “white privilege and racism in all its forms contradicts the oneness of the Body of Christ.”

Honorable Mentions: Eagle Brook Church, Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, Shir Tikvah Synagogue


Pets

Animal Hospital or Veterinarian

St. Francis Animal Hospital (Dr. Blair)

St. Francis Animal Hospital’s Dr. Jennifer Blair began working at the Roseville clinic 25 years ago as a veterinary assistant. After receiving her doctorate, she was hired as an associate veterinarian and went on to purchase the practice in 2006. Since then, she has worked to expand the hospital’s services to include hospice and palliative care as well as integrative services. Dr. Blair is beloved by her clients and has never stopped learning how to better care for their pets — she is certified in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, and is currently studying more non-western approaches to animal care and pain management.

Honorable Mentions: Grand Avenue Veterinary Center, Minnetonka Animal Hospital

Pet Day Care / Boarding

Dog Days

Nothing can really replace the love and attention dogs receive at home, but Dog Days strives to provide the highest level of personal attention and understanding of each dog’s special needs. With a staff full of dog owners and lovers, the boarding, grooming, training, and day care opportunities at Dog Days are infused with genuine love and affection for your pet.

Honorable Mentions: Silver Dog Bed & Biscuit, Sincerely Pets + Plants, The Woof Room

Rescue Organization

The Bitty Kitty Brigade

The Bitty Kitty Brigade is a foster-based rescue for kittens — really itty bitty ones. The donation-based organization helps orphaned neonatal (0–5 weeks old) kittens in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas found in impound lots, area rescues, and members of the community. Kittens are nursed until they can feed themselves (about 12 weeks old), vetted, and then posted for adoption. Additionally, the Birth Control Brigade helps control the cat population by humanely trapping and sterilizing strays to lessen the cycle of un-homed felines.

Honorable Mentions: Cause for Paws MN, Feline Rescue


Professional Assistance

Attorney

Rachel T. Schromen

Rachel Schromen of Schromen Law provides legal services in areas of law that are intensely personal to her: estate planning, elder law, and family. She doesn’t take the responsibility of providing counsel around such issues lightly. Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, Rachel learned early how to have a strong work ethic and to keep her fees fair so clients feel comfortable reaching her whenever they have a question.

Honorable Mentions: Alma Miklasevics, Gender Justice, Susan J. Link

Bank / Credit Union

Old National Bank

With over $48 billion in assets, Old National Bank is one of the largest commercial banks headquartered in the Midwest. But with a mission to invest heart into each client relationship, their DNA is that of a smaller community bank. Internally, their commitment to ethical and corporate responsibility is evident as employees feel free to grow their careers in a highly transparent environment.

Honorable Mentions: Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, Blaze/Spire Credit Union, TruStone Financial Credit Union

Memorial Service / Green Burial Provider

Lakewood Cemetery

The historic 250 acres of park-like grounds near Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis chronicle a wide array of cultures and traditions around death. As a nonprofit, they are reimagining the role of the cemetery in modern life to make the process more relevant and accessible. From the Living Memory Tree to twilight lantern lighting ceremonies and traditional chapel and graveside services, Lakewood is a space for remembering, celebrating, and cherishing.

Honorable Mentions: Mueller Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation, Twin Cities Cremation

Financial Planner

Jennifer Tix

Thrivent’s Jennifer Tix carries a legacy of relational financial planning. For over a decade, she trained under her father, who retired after a 40-year career helping people achieve financial security. Now with 25 years of experience, Jennifer helps tailor financial strategies for her clients to prioritize what excites, and plan for what worries, each individual client — whether that be education, retirement, or legacy planning.

Honorable Mentions: Lynn Elmer, Miriam Hobart, White Oaks Wealth Advisors

Insurance Agent

Dash Leander

Dash Leander helps clients navigate the endless barrage of confusing insurance speak that people are often inundated with when deciding how to best protect their property. At Leander’s Alacrity Insurance Partners, their priority isn’t to sell customers a policy that is the cheapest — it’s to make sure customers understand what policy is right for them.

Honorable Mentions: Anne Doerrer Agency, Lisa Lampi, Kimberly Nybo

Realtor

Holly Stomberg

Since 2011, Holly Stomberg has made it her business to listen to people’s unique life circumstances and create a path toward their dream home (or next investment opportunity) that is free of stress and personable, as well as highly professional and knowledgeable. Because of that, she is a lead buyers specialist at Keller Williams who continues to outpace other buyer agents.

Honorable Mentions: Kathy Borys, Leah Drury, Joanne Nigbor


Services

Car Repair Shop

Turbo Tim’s

The thousands of satisfied customer reviews (and many happy shop cats) at Turbo Tim’s show that auto repair doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s their priority that you feel comfortable coming into the shop to fix your vehicle or attending their free community events (puppet shows, demolition derbies, and more). Through a partnership with the Lift Garage, they also help support low- and no-cost car repair for people experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Honorable Mentions: Car Care Eagan, Hagen’s Auto Body

Gardening / Landscaping Service

Mother Earth Gardens

At their two Minneapolis locations, Mother Earth Gardens doesn’t close up shop after the growing season has passed. Rather, the locally owned garden center embraces the beauty in all seasons with unique specialties: organic seeds, sustainably grown annuals and perennials, garlic for fall planting, houseplants, decorative gourds, winter wreaths, and locally made art and gifts. Underlying everything is their thoughtful philosophy around sustainability. They have heavily vetted their main grower for sustainable and organic practices, including irrigation mixed with compost tea, filtered rainwater from the gutter, and plant extracts (rather than chemicals) controlling pests.

Honorable Mentions: Eggplant Urban Farm Supply, Metro Blooms, Rustic Hills Garden Co.

Home Remodeler

Pine & Poplar LLC

Pine & Poplar LLC is a Native, queer-owned small carpentry business established in 2020; in 2024, their team has 20+ years of carpentry experience. Pine & Poplar also works on small furniture builds, decks, fences, handy work, flooring, trimwork, and painting in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Owner Jacqueline Zepeda is invested in her South Minneapolis community, spending countless hours doing volunteer builds for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ spaces, such as the winter solar greenhouse at Tamales y Bicicletas Urban Farm.

Honorable Mentions: Howard Mostad, Platinum Remodeling