First Look: New Excelsior Store Lake Effect

Excelsior is synonymous with lake culture. So it’s kind of surprising that the Lake Minnetonka town hasn’t had a shop dedicated to the boating lifestyle.

Until last Thursday, when Lake Effect opened its doors. The new shop is equal parts New England and Minnesota, filled with nautically inspired home decor and gifts geared toward Lake Minnetonka’s boaters. It’s the latest entry in Excelsior’s recent retail boom, which has included the openings of stores such as Gray Home + Lifestyle, Primp, J. NovachisGolden Rule Collective, Buck + Fir, an Ivivva showroom, and a new storefront for the Sitting Room over the past year, and coming soon, Epitome Papers.

The store is owned by Danielle Riley, who grew up boating on Lake Minnetonka with her parents. She managed her mother’s store, Scandia Down at Galleria, for five years before deciding to embark on her own shop. She updated a store concept that was originally created by one of her aunts, named Lake Affect, when the aunt closed the store. (Riley also purchased its fixtures.)

So far, customers are responding. “I’ve been open three days and I’m already having to reorder things,” Riley says.

The shop’s products are largely unique-to-Minnesota, including custom-made mini wood boats crafted into children’s wagons, rockers, and even dog dishes—all of which can be customized with the name of a boater’s vessel. Other goods include typography maps of Lake Minnetonka, laser-engraved wood clocks of Minnesota lakes (also customizable), and a wood-cut featuring the names of Minnesota breweries. There’s also plenty of gear for serious boaters, including plastic tumblers by Minnesota’s own Signature Tumblers, bamboo sunglasses that float (so you never lose another pair in the lake), and non-skid dinnerware, as well as some nautical clothing for women, rubber sandals, and fish-shaped Gurgle Pots that gurgle when they pour.

But the biggest “get” the store has is branded gear from Chris Craft, a U.S. heritage builder of a range of motor yachts, cruisers, launches, and bow-riders. It turns out her great-great-grandfather, Chris Smith, actually created Chris Craft, “so it’s very important to our family.” And one of her uncles continues the tradition by craft mahogany trunks for Chris Craft. Chris Smith. They’re expensive, Riley admits, but an heirloom piece guaranteed to stay in the family for years to come.

Now open, 219 Water St., Excelsior, 952-474-1229,

By Jahna Peloquin

Photos by Jahna Peloquin

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