Change is in the air for St. Anthony Park’s Como Avenue business community

Change is the constant when it comes to the businesses of St. Anthony Park as two new ones recently opened and a longtime favorite made a short move to “cozier” quarters.

Chris Edman, one of Frattallone's assistant managers, and store manager James Konrad. Photo by Lori Hamilton

Chris Edman, one of Frattallone’s assistant managers, and store manager James Konrad.        Photo by Lori Hamilton

Frattallone’s Ace Hardware and Garden Store, 2286 Como Ave.:

Co-owner Tom Frattallone said the first order of business in repurposing the former post office was altering the “1975 prison chic” exterior to create a more welcoming look.

“We want residents to see the store as a community asset,” he said. “We’re going to have benches and planter boxes with flowers in front and try to make it look more friendly.”

Larry Frattallone opened his first hardware store 40 years ago, and he and sons, Tom and Mike, now operate 21 in the Twin Cities area.

Tom was on vacation when a friend who lives in St. Anthony Park emailed him to say the location was available and Frattallone’s ought to move in, Tom said.

The Como Avenue store is the Frattallone’s smallest, but Walter Dinalko, an assistant manager, said that needn’t be a disadvantage. “We’ve been pretty creative with the use of space, sliding product-display panels being just one example,” he said.

“We have just about the same number of stock-keeping-units as our larger stores and if there’s anything we don’t have, we can get it in a day,” Dinalko added.

“We cut keys, repair snow blowers and lawnmowers, have a very significant housewares selection and substantial plumbing and electrical departments. And we have a better inventory of loose nuts and bolts than the big box stores,” he said.

“With Ace, we have a top-rate product line and the quality of the training and the expectations that the Frattallones have for customer service are very high.

“Everyone coming in seems to be so excited that we’re here,” Dinalko said.

Oh, and Pat Kujawa-Frattallone, the Murray High School grad whose photo was featured in the store’s Park Bugle ad last month? That’s Larry’s wife and Tom and Mike’s mom.

Tom Bielenberg in Micawber's new space. Photo by Lori Hamilton

Tom Bielenberg in Micawber’s new space. Photo by Lori Hamilton

Micawber’s Books, 2230 Carter Ave.:

Moving a bookstore is an exhausting task, according to owner Tom Bielenberg, but Micawber’s is now settled in its new quarters in Milton Square, just a few paces from the space it occupied for more than 40 years.

Are customers finding the new location in the lower courtyard of Milton Square?

“I was worried about that, but it has not been a problem at all. I’ve had the sign repainted and our entrance is visible both to people walking by and to motorists at the intersection,” Bielenberg said.

“It was a big change, but the new store has grown on me in a short time.”

Bielenberg said he has been gratified by the “tremendous support” he has received from friends and volunteers, chief among them Dave Healy, former Park Bugle editor, who contributed both his carpentry skills and advice.

“After owning the store for 14 years, I needed some new ideas, because a certain amount of inertia had set in,” Bielenberg said.

“This is a smaller, but I had too much space before and there’s plenty of room for what I think I need to carry,” he added.

Several large book tables that occupy the center of the store are on rollers, so they can be moved to make room for author readings, Bielenberg pointed out. If more space is needed for such events, he will stage them elsewhere in the neighborhood.

“ ‘Cozy,’ is the comment that many people make when they come down the stairs,” he said. “We may be in the basement, but we’re still above ground level and the windows let in a lot of light.

“The big thing we offer is the personal touch. People know the store and they know me,” Bielenberg said.

Healing Elements proprietors Samantha Huet and Nick Shvetzoff

Healing Elements proprietors Samantha Huet and Nick Shvetzoff

Healing Elements, 2290 Como Ave.:

Samantha Huet ran out of room to expand her northeast Minneapolis wellness center and liked the “progressive vibe and laidback energy” she encountered in St. Anthony Park.

So she and partner Nick Shvetzoff moved their business into the former Peapods/Mischief space next to the new hardware store.

“Walking down the street here, people smile at you and it just feels natural to strike up a conversation with anyone,” she said. “That sense of community was why Healing Elements thrived at our former location and we just hope to keep expanding upon that.

“The building has undergone an extensive remodel and I think people will be surprised when they see inside,” she said. The community is invited to do just that at the center’s grand opening Sunday, May 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

As a wellness center and “resource hub for holistic living,” as Huet puts it, Healing Elements will offer daily yoga and mediation classes, therapeutic massage, holistic healing services, as well as product offerings such as bulk herbs, teas, essential oils and natural and organic health supplements.

Product lines include Mountain Rose Herbs (herbs and tea), Soul Flower (clothing and accessories), Weleda (body care) and Baraka (Ayurvedic health supplies, along with an emphasis on locally sourced crafts and goods.

Huet, a certified yoga instructor, said the center’s staff of instructors and massage therapists have a wealth of experience gained through teaching and studying around the globe. Their biographies can be found at


Roger Bergerson writes about history and community news regularly in the Park Bugle.


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