When it comes to the modern neighborhood boutique, mothers and daughters are the new mom-and-pop. Local families are responsible for two of the hottest new shops in Excelsior—where the small-town charm of Water Street is fast being matched by the big-city style of its boutiques. That tight-knit, multi-generational perspective adds a special layer of warmth to Gray Home + Lifestyle and Buck + Fir.
Gray Home + Lifestyle
Same space, familiar name. New owners, new approach. Dee Dee Lappen, a former wholesale rep and Evereve sales associate, had long toyed with the idea of opening a store, but it was her daughter Chloe, a recent University of Minnesota Duluth graduate, who gave her the push when she suggested the two start a business together. The perfect opportunity fell into their laps when they learned that Gray Gardens Landscaping owner Andrew Kruger planned to lease out the historic home where his mother Lois Kruger started a store in 1983. The Lappens decided to keep “Gray” in the name “out of respect for her and the history.” The enchanting old home that houses the store has been modernized with white walls and wood trim. The Lappens agreed on a neutral, minimal aesthetic and apply that to everything from home goods to apparel and apothecary. The products are sophisticated, and not inexpensive, but have broad appeal, Chloe says. “I’m 22, and I’m more interested in buying things for my home than my closet.” Adds her mom, “This is a dream. Being able to do something like this with my daughter makes it so much more enjoyable.” 366 Water St., Excelsior, 952-474-9150, grayhomeandlifestyle.com
Buck + Fir
Already seasoned entrepreneurs as the owners of the Suburban restaurant in their hometown of Excelsior, Cindy Berset and daughters Kelsey, a law school grad, and Ashley, who majored in marketing at the University of Minnesota, saw an opportunity to open a clothing store focused on the classic sneakers and casual apparel both mother and daughters like to wear. “Street wear is a niche we felt was missing,” says Cindy. “I’m 53, and when I’m shopping with my daughters, I like stores where we can all get something.” Free People, Brooks Heritage, and Saucony Originals are among the lines sold in the spare, loft-like shop, which is a former garage with an entrance in the parking lot behind Water Street. This summer, Buck + Fir hopes to introduce new activewear and sneaker lines, and more graphic shirts for guys. The Bersets are just getting started. “For a while, it was all about the restaurants in Excelsior, now we feel like the hot part of Excelsior is going to be retail.” 219 Water St. Back, 952-470-3594, buckandfir.com