When Bibelot began in 1966, the idea of a gift shop was unusual.
Specialty stores stocked full of home goods, clothing, sundry souvenirs and trinkets were rare. From Woolworths to the now-ubiquitous Target (which first opened in Roseville in 1962), Twin Cities residents had little choice but to patronize museum and department stores to meet their retail-gift needs.
So, when Roxanna Freese opened the first Bibelot Shop in St. Anthony Park, she truly changed the game. She curated a unique shopping experience, brought enterprise and creativity to her neighborhood, and fostered an enduring sense of community that continues to shape St. Anthony Park.
More than a half-century later, Bibelot is gone from St. Anthony Park. But its legacy lives on through its successor—boreal.
Co-owned by former Bibelot employees Peggy Merrill and Janet Haugan (who served as general manager), boreal debuted in May in the same commercial space held by Bibelot until earlier this year.
“It was difficult to say goodbye to Bibelot,” Haugan told the Bugle. “Peggy had worked with Roxy for 34 years—I had for 23 years. Bibelot was a wonderful, supportive place to work, with incredible coworkers and lovely customers—not a combination you find every day.
“We both looked at our options as Bibelot was nearing the end, although we did not have plans to open our own store,” Haugan continued. “The idea [for boreal] came about once we discovered that the Como Avenue space was available. Roxy started Bibelot in that location almost 53 years ago, and Peggy began her Bibelot career there as well.
“We love the St. Anthony Park community, and we know firsthand how important Bibelot has been to generations of families, as well as the business community,” Haugan said, recounting the genesis for boreal. “It has always been more than just a shop. That is what inspired us to take this leap of faith.”
Haugan and Merrill hope that boreal, which in Latin means “from the north,” will grow into a neighborhood mainstay that continues “to seek out unique, special gift items, creative clothing and a wonderful selection of greeting cards” that delight customers of all ages.
And while boreal will carry on the spirit of Bibelot, Haugan and Merrill are considering some changes. Merchandise will remain on the first level, Haugan said, but St. Anthony Park may find the second floor open to community use.
“We are still formalizing our plans, but some suggestions include using the space for art openings/showings, poetry readings, craft classes, book clubs, puzzle clubs, game night, community/public meetings, etc.,” she said. “We are open to ideas and excited to use this space for the benefit of the community.”
For now, boreal is focused on the present.
“Our immediate plans are to do the best job we can in this space and get to know and support our customers and neighboring business owners,” Haugan said.