You’re never too big to be local. Mall of America is launching a Shop Local holiday market featuring around two-dozen Minnesota brands ranging from one-woman operations like Wool and Whiskey knit scarves to the Minnesota Twins. The month-long holiday pop-up is scheduled to open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday in the Southeast Court—near Sears and Santa Land.
Shop Local will encompass apparel, toys, beauty products, confections, and more. For men, there’s Great Lakes Clothing Co. and Mill City Fineries. For women, St. Paul retailer Poppy brings its colorful, casual dresses and the Fashion Mobile will park with its trendy assortment of clothing and accessories. The beauty category includes dpHue hair products, Elixery Cosmetic House, Worker-b skincare and Classical Elements men’s shave line. Gifts range from Elva Pottery to the Beer Dabbler with Northeast boutique i like you to round out the mix with its artisan-made goods—always a popular booth at the Minnesota State Fair. For kids, there’s Tumblewalla baby clothes, Cooper and Kid gift boxes, and iconic St. Paul retailer Choo Choo Bobs is bringing its model trains and toys. Gourmet gifts include St. Croix Chocolate Co. and Thumbs Cookies. And along with the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota United has signed on to sell team gear.
“Mall of America works with hundreds of local businesses each year,” says the mall’s senior vice president of marketing and business development Jill Renslow, who pointed to Minnesota-based MOA tenants such as Hammer Made and Creative Kidstuff. “The Shop Local Market is an opportunity to highlight a collection of up and coming brands, created in Minnesota, and help them reach millions of new customers throughout the holiday season.”
Last year, MOA attracted 230,000 visitors on Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday alone.
“There’s not another mall in the country that could provide the sales and exposure of the Mall of America,” says Shop Local coordinator Mich Berthiaume, who saw first hand how the mall could elevate a fledgling brand when she helped Faribault Woolen Mill Co. announce its revival with a holiday pop-up shop at the mall in 2011. “We hadn’t even woven blankets yet, and that shop got us huge exposure.”
Shop Local will occupy 10,000-square-feet—a former Deb store—in the Southeast Court, and the mall is not charging rent, Berthiaume says. Instead, MOA will take a percentage of sales. The opportunity is big for some of these small brands, but so is the investment—many are having to hire staff just to fill the long holiday hours at the mall. They’re also taking great care to design their area of the market, says Berthiaume, promising a “chic, Manhattan feel…with the warmth of Minnesota.”
“My intention is for this to be different from any pop up that’s ever been done,” Berthiaume says. “Because it’s a month long, and because this is the biggest mall in America.”
There could be a few more brands still to sign on before Shop Local opens on Black Friday. Throughout the season, participating brands plan to host interactive activities and VIP appearances. Shop Local will remain open through Dec. 27.