Everybody is craving that Main Street shopping experience—even deep in the suburbs. I think developers and retailers are coming to realize that manufacturing a “downtown” in the middle of a parking lot isn’t exactly the authentic experience suburban residents are after. Thus the success of downtown Excelsior, while Shoppes at Arbor Lakes struggles to differentiate itself from a mall. Prior Lake is the latest example of a town that is reinventing its downtown. With the charming Edeleweiss Bakery as the anchor, independent retailers are flocking to Prior Lake’s Main Avenue—snapping up street front spaces as decades-old service businesses close or move upstairs.
Prior Lake native Marie Boucher-Hoese recalls hanging out at Burnsville Center when she was a teen—there was nothing to do in downtown Prior Lake. Her Vintage Gypsy boutique paved the way for a new generation of retailers, opening on Main five years ago. Wild Ruffle boutique and Urban Halo followed with a joint space, and this month, both have expanded into new spaces of their own. Love Feast, an online boutique just opened a bricks and mortar store right next to them.
Wild Ruffle grew out of Cate Mezyk’s style blog, which started as an outlet for the stay-at-home mom. When she joined forces with career retiler, buyer, and fellow Prior Lake resident Tammy Hiveley, the two started doing pop up shopping events and then opened a store where they rented space to local makers. The new shop, located in a bright space right next door to the bakery, is the realization of their vision: a mix of women’s apparel and accessories with a modern boho vibe, baby gifts, beauty items, and home accessories—especially framed wall signs, which they can’t keep in stock.
At Urban Halo, you can shop the local company’s full line of patterned headbands women love to wear while working out. Love Feast focuses on handcrafted goods for the home, from the popular velvet Plus Pumpkins line to jewelry, dishware, rugs, and pillows. Vintage Gypsy mixes old and new including apparel, jewelry, accessories, and gifts. The space is inventively merchandised for a hunt-and-gather experience…without the hassle of having to dig.
With the recent openings, there’s finally enough here to make an afternoon of it. Better yet, a morning: the Prior Lake Farmer’s Market happens on Main Avenue every Saturday, May through October, 8 a.m. to noon.