Making Selby Avenue a fashion destination.

Dahlia Brue in her boutique, Idun
Photos by Caitlin Abrams

Selby Hits its Stride

For years, Selby has been threatening to become a destination shopping district. Finally, it seems to be happening—from Cathedral Hill to Selby and Snelling. In addition to the recent openings of Idun, Red Cow restaurant (393 Selby Ave.), and Olive You olive oil shop (526 Selby Ave.), expect more arrivals in the coming months. Grand Avenue’s boho boutique Karma will relocate to the corner of Selby and Snelling at the end of August. And this fall, Longfellow gift store CorAzoN will open a second location—twice the original size—in a front corner of the 526 building, which is being reconfigured with the 526 Salon in back.

Dahlia Brue not only pictured the boutique she wanted to shop in her Cathedral Hill neighborhood, she built it.

She didn’t get hung up on whether or not it would fly in St. Paul. She didn’t limit herself to well-known labels or worry about price sensitivity. She approached designers, most of whom had never before sold their collections in Minnesota, and convinced them to give her—a former event planner and total retail novice—a chance.

That confidence is what makes Idun (pronounced “eden”) feel special and original and worth a visit from all corners of the Twin Cities. Just as neighboring Selby Avenue store BlackBlue has become a destination for men, Idun now offers the counterpoint on the block for fashion-forward women.

Idun is named for the Norse goddess of youth and rejuvenation, which could describe Brue herself, with that cascade of blond hair and effortless style. The store is located in a space familiar to local shoppers. For a long time it was Amy Jane Bridal, then it became l’atelier couture, which eventually moved to the North Loop, making room for women’s store Allee Metro Chic. You won’t recognize remnants of any of them. Brue painted the space white to play up the wood, brick, and concrete. She keeps it minimal with simple metal rods to display a cool assortment of women’s apparel. Brue gravitates toward solid colors and modern silhouettes with men’s-inspired tailoring. She likes pieces, she says, that allow you to be “individual and a little bit weird.” That includes all the finishing touches: a focused shoe assortment—from high-tops to heels—as well as jewelry and fragrance.

Her taste is not cheap. Dresses, sweaters, jackets, and pants climb into the $300 to $400-plus range—beyond the reach of many of Brue’s contemporaries, at just 27 years old. But she speaks for a growing group of young creatives who are turned off by the fast fashion they grew up wearing.

“I got out of college and all of my stuff started breaking,” says Brue, who had her second baby just two months before Idun opened this spring. “I wanted to start investing in my wardrobe. Maybe you can’t buy a lot, but you feel better in good things.”

495 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-348-6104,