With my usual traveling companion working his nine-to-five, I decided to hit the road for an adventure with my 2-year-old granddaughter, Mina.
The half-hour drive north on US 52 was spent singing silly songs and making very small talk. We pulled into Zumbrota, parked and set out in search of whatever fun we could unearth. Feeling a little peckish, we decided to start with a bite to eat. We strolled down the tidy Main Street and found Bridget’s Café.
Bridget’s Café is owned by Bridget and Joel Rostad. It is a quaint establishment with good service, hot coffee and tasty food. It is rumored that Bridget is at work every morning at 4 a.m. making her pies, cookies and other treats that bring the regulars back and keep the newcomers satisfied. The menu boasts full breakfasts and a variety of sandwiches and soups. Mina gave the grilled cheese an enthusiastic two thumbs up and I definitely recommend the scones. Our waitress Paulette praised her hometown and encouraged us to browse the shops on Main Street and visit the covered bridge and the sculpture outside the library.
Our next visit was Flowers on Main. I expected a typical flower store, but what I encountered was an eclectic delight. Claiming her store “has a little bit of everything,” Brenda Lerum said Zumbrota is known for the uniqueness of its shops and the friendly spirit and supportiveness between shop owners. Then she explained ZIBA, the Zumbrota Independent Business Alliance.
This group was created by local Zumbrota businesses as a way to advertise events, reach out to customers and work together by supporting and helping each other on projects to complement and not compete with one another. Each place we visited we found the staff asking where we’d been and suggesting other interesting places. We were never without a friendly smile or help.
As Brenda and I talked, Mina was hard at work in the area designated for children. She played with educational toys of all varieties and even some new-fangled anti-bacterial sand. I am going to say Flowers on Main was certainly her favorite shop and leaving was not easy.
A few more steps down Main Street we came to Busby Hardware. The family business, owned by Dave and Christine Busby, sells appliances, furniture and the many shelves of sundry items that are sure to meet your DIY needs. Wandering around the furniture side of the store, Mina and I tested several of the stylish and comfy chairs from the large inventory and admired the clocks and ornate candle holders.
The friendly staff suggested we visit Wild Ginger so we headed across the street.
Wild Ginger is as interesting as its name. This high-ceilinged boutique with original brick walls is charming and has wonderful selection of unique women’s clothing made from natural organic fabrics. There are numerous accessories and fun gift items to explore and the jewelry is hand-made by local artists. There were several dresses that caught my eye but Mina had taken the advice of Sheri, an employee of Wild Ginger, to step through the connecting door to peruse All in Stitches.
When I walked in, I saw the connecting stores were identical in height with the same exposed brick walls. The contents, however, were very different. All in Stitches was lavishly stocked with quilting supplies. The fabrics, threads, books, patterns and applique surrounded me and I was awash in all the hues and dyes in cotton, wool and tweed. Mina surveyed the room and started naming all the colors. I noted all the beautiful quilts that lined the walls and I decided I would add quilting to my bucket list.
At the suggestion of the salesclerk at All in Stitches, we stopped at Luya and Other Fine Things. Luya is a fantastic shop. The shoes, hats and accessories make it well worth the trip. Mina and I strolled, gazed and marveled at the selection of offerings and decided we weren’t in any store we’d ever been in before. Connie Hawley, owner, was pleased to hear that and told us that Zumbrota has “become a shopping destination.”
With that, my tired little girl and I headed up the hill to visit Crossings at Carnegie. Crossings is celebrating 15 years and not only displays and sells local art but produces concerts, teaches classes in every imaginable art medium and sports a pottery studio. The building itself is old and grand and the talented artists, whose work is in the gallery, is a definite must see.
It had been a busy day, but a very successful day of discovery. Mina and I decided the shops we visited are unquestionably out of the ordinary, but with a few songs and a little small talk, Zumbrota was not so far out of the way and certainly worth the trip.