Shop And Lunch
THE RECENT ARRIVAL OF SUCCESSFUL GIFT STORE minichain Patina at Selby and Snelling avenues in St. Paul says it all:This corner is hot.
Patina, with five locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, gravitates to urban neighborhoods that are still a little rough around the edges. So, don't expect Selby and Snelling to be 50th & France. Parking can be a challenge. There isn't a destination restaurant within easy walking distance. Situated just south of Interestate 94, traffic whips past in every direction.A sign in the window of Cosmic's Coffee snaps: "Don't park here and go to Starbucks!"
Call it character.With the exception of Starbucks, this intersection is made up entirely of local, independent businesses including a couple of institutions: O'Gara's Bar & Grill and the Sweatshop Health Club. They march to their own beat, which adds to the charm. Don't arrive too early the neighborhood is slow to wake, with many stores opening at 11 a.m. or noon.
Selby and Snelling owes its retail personality to veteran vintage boutique Lula, arguably the best in town. Once the only store worth stopping for, Lula now counts several other vintage boutiques as neighbors.
Lula is the place to find serious women's fashions from the '40s through '70s. You won't have to dig through junk to find the gems in this expertly edited shop, which draws customers from across the country. Up Six specializes in midcentury furniture and clothing at accessible prices. You might find an end table, old Levis or a Halloween costume (the owner prides herself on pulling together party pleasers). GoVintage deals in apparel and accessories as recent as the '80s and as far back as the turn of the century.
But Selby and Snelling is not stuck in the past.Newcomer A. Michele is drawing trend seekers with its contemporary mix of women's clothing and accessories, from cool tees and premium denim to playful sundresses. Of course, Patina offers a modern spin on gifts, stationery, garden, home accents and bath and body and that's just on the main floor. Be sure to venture downstairs, where you'll find chic and affordable handbags and jewelry, plus toys and more for children. Furthering Selby and Snelling's momentum: Grand Avenue lingerie boutique Flirt is scheduled in June to relocate to a cozy space around the corner from Patina on Snelling.
Don't overlook Rebel Ink Baby Selby Avenue is company headquarters for the brand, which is sold at boutiques nationwide. The front of the space is a store, featuring Rebel Ink's signature baby and toddler shirts with snarky sayings and hipster appeal.
Time for a snack. Two Smart Cookies serves up homemade treats. In addition to Cosmic's Coffee, there's Cahoots Coffee, decorated like a cozy old living room. Neighborhood Cafe is a family-friendly spot for big breakfasts. If it's a beer you crave, look no further than O'Gara's. And there is that Starbucks. Don't shoot the messenger, but on a sunny day, the outdoor tables are not a bad place to take in all the action on this busy corner.
Selby and Snelling:
Cosmic's Coffee, 189 N. Snelling Ave., 651-645-0106
Flirt, 177 N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-3692
Drive for lunch
W.A. Frost & Company, 374 Selby Ave., 651-224-5715, Wafrost.com
See more of Selby
As long as you're in the car, more Selby Avenue highlights
FiveTwoSix Gallery, 526 Selby Ave., 651-222-3839: Hidden behind the salon, this spacious gallery with contemporary appeal highlights the best of local and regional artists, including jewelry, hand-blown glass, sculpture and paintings.
Fleur de Lis, 516 Selby Ave., 651-292-9562: Charming flower shop plus home accents and gifts.
L'Atelier Couture Bridal Boutique, 493 Selby Ave., 651-602-9492: One of the most exclusive bridal boutiques in town, featuring high-end designers like Carolina Herrera and Karl Lagerfeld.
Common Good Books, 165 N. Western Ave., 651-225-8989: Garrison Keillor's bookstore is tucked beneath Nina's Coffee Cafe.
Paper Patisserie, 366 Selby Ave., 651-227-1398: Romantic space filled with stationery, journals, card sets and more to enhance your correspondences.