boreal Gifts & Goods rolls with the seasons

By Kathy Henderson

Even when it was bitterly cold with January’s below zero temperatures, boreal Gifts & Goods owners Peggy Merrill and Janet Haugan were already making plans for the shop’s fourth anniversary in May.

The co-owners said they are excited about the upcoming spring and summer fashions and delighted that the large white board in their office was filling up with artists ready to display their work in boreal’s Art Loft.

boreal also will be participating again in the St. Anthony Parks Art Festival (June 3), they promised.

Meanwhile, boreal’s distinctive assortment of clothing, jewelry, gift items, greeting cards, children’s toys, books and apparel keeps new customers discovering and regular customers returning to the shop at 2276 Como Ave. — no matter the weather conditions.

One reason boreal is such a wonderful place to be is the people who live in this neighborhood support their business, Haugan said.

While Haugan and Merrill select merchandise that personally appeals to them, they returned from a winter merchandise trade show noting with some satisfaction that mushroom motifs were becoming trendy.

Their boreal customers have long been able to find such designs on book covers (both nature-related and fiction), spoon holders, aprons, napkins, runners and other home décor items. Childlike characters wearing bright red spotted mushroom caps even appear in Swedish author Elsa Beskow’s “Children of the Forest” book.

Coming in time for Easter and spring season, boreal will introduce JellyCat brand’s plush bunnies and other animal figures. JellyCat is a London-based toy designer with a Minneapolis office.

“They are lovely, and we’re excited to have them,” Haugan said. “We’ve been trying to add this line for the past three years.”

As boreal adds new merchandise, customer favorites remain, including shelves of puzzles and items from the two Cindys: Cindy Syme Pottery from St. Paul and, from Minneapolis, Cindy Lindgren’s, designed greeting cards and boxes notes. And customers can count on boreal continuing to be known for its offering of Scandinavian, Minnesotan, and St. Anthony Park themed merchandise.

Sneak preview: Christmas shoppers can expect to see felted ornaments and figurines during the 2023 winter holiday season.

boreal took over the retail spot occupied for many years by Bibelot Shop, which closed its St. Anthony Park location in early 2019.

Art loft

Since boreal opened, more and more people are getting to know about its Art Loft.

“They (customers) find out there is a different artist’s work featured each month and are coming in to check it out,” Merrill said.

An opening reception for the works of Nancy Yermakoff is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 3. Yermakoff, whose studio is in the Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis, is noted for her watercolor “Horizon” series and her mixed media “Abstract” series.

The works of two artists will be featured in April: the painting of Minneapolis artist Sonja Hutchinson and items from Marilyn Cox’s “Divine Decoupage.”

“We are continually grateful and excited about being in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and that new shops have opened in our area,” Haugan said.

boreal is open Mondays-Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can find it online at 

Kathy Henderson lives in St. Paul and is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

Photo caption Janet Haugan (left) and Peggy Merrill are co-owners of boreal. Photo by Jan Geisen.

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