The stylish Grand Marais shop has moved to the North Loop for the holiday season.
images & text by Jahna Peloquin
Last year, Upstate MN opened on the shores of Lake Superior in Grand Marais—an unlikely locale for a shop featuring such a stylish, modern selection of handcrafted goods. But luckily for Twin Cities area shoppers, the store has brought its “northwoods modern” assortment to the North Loop for a holiday pop-up.
The store, owned by longtime retailer Kristofer Bowman, carries a mix of unique home goods and gifts in the industrial-modern vein made by hip design studios and small makers. Much of it you won’t find anywhere else in Minnesota, let along the Midwest: typography cards from Princeton Architectural Press; onyx and wood cocktail sets handcrafted by artisans in India by Be Home; concrete trivets and coasters, leather painted pet collars by Son of a Sailor; copper kettles by Fellow; and artfully sharped ceramics by Edge Wood Made. There’s also a deep selection of barware and other high-style gift items by Areaware, including their balancing blocks, plywood playing cards, and bracelet flask.
While Bowman sources some of his goods at the NY Now market, most of it he finds when scrolling through Instagram. He also sells a selection of goods by local makers, including Adam Gruetzmacher ceramics, WAAM Industries’ wood crates, Silvercocoon’s architectural jewelry, and Sanborn Canoe Co.’s hand-painted canoe paddles. “I’m always curating, I’m always stumbling across something new,” he says. He also takes a personal approach to buying: “I’ve hugged 90 percent of the makers I carry,” he says, “which is important to me.”
The store is among several retailers that have opened temporary satellite stores in other spaces (see: BlackBlue at Penny’s Coffee in Linden Hills, Idun at the Foundry Home Good’s original space in the North Loop). When Bowman received an opportunity to set up shop at bswing’s street-level space on Washington Avenue, he swiftly packed up his entire Grand Marais store and headed south.
“Two million people come through town in the summer, which is amazing,” Bowman says of Grand Marais. But come winter, the tourists clear out—as do the shoppers—and the town’s small population isn’t enough to sustain the store during those slow winter months. “It’s a magic population, but it’s a small population,” he says.
Prior to moving back in his home state last year, the Iron Range native ran a gift store in Indiana for over 10 years called Silver in the City that sold a mix of antiques and goods by small makers with a vintage and industrial vibe. On the weekends, he traveled to other cities to sell goods at markets, such as Chicago’s Randolph Street. Then, he opened his own store called the Inventorialist, a new-generation antiques store with a vintage-industrial vibe.
Originally, Bowman had plans to open a shop in Minneapolis when he first moved to Grand Marais. Now that he’s in Minneapolis—even if it’s only temporary—he promises this isn’t the last we’ll see of him here. “Things are on the horizon,” he says with a wink.
Update: The North Loop pop-up will remain open through Wednesday, Dec. 27, with the added bonus of a 25% storewide discount. The sale runs in store through Wednesday and through midnight on Thursday online only with code SHOPDANCE. Tuesday, Dec. 26 & Wednesday, Dec. 27 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. @ Upstate MN Pop-up, 700 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis, and ends Thursday at midnight online at upstatemn.com