Five years was a good run, Shayne Barsness thought as she settled into the orthodontist’s chair one day last year.
That’s how long ago Barsness opened her store, Style Minneapolis, on 27th Street between Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues. She had loyal customers, but it was never a high-traffic location, and recently she ran into several, well, livability issues with the massage parlor next door. She looked for a new space, something larger. When she couldn’t find anything, she thought she might close the store and move on.
But that day, on her way out the door, Barsness ran into somebody she knew who informed her that there was a new space open along Nicollet Avenue that happened to be the exact size she was looking for.
"I happen to believe in serendipity," she said.
Last month, Barsness opened at her new location at Nicollet Avenue & 45th Street, where she sells furniture that she’s rebuilt into one-of-a-kind items, along with home accents, accessories, gifts and vintage jewelry.
One morning while in East Isles, years before she opened her store, she found a beautiful headboard lying by the trash. She took it home, refinished it and used it. And then found another piece. And another. And she was hooked on rebuilding old furniture.
She still checks the trash regularly (as well as antique stores, estate sales, and other places in the Twin Cities and across the state) for furniture with "good bones"; that is, it has bad or ruined upholstery or finish, but it’s structurally solid.
"People in Minneapolis love to throw good things away," she said. They’re not necessarily antiques, they’re not necessarily pretty, but they’re sturdy pieces that can be repurposed."
Barsness teaches repurposing and finishing classes at her new location (call for details), and in the future plans to lead trips into outstate Minnesota to show customers her favorite spots to pick up antique pieces.
Last year, when she considered shuttering her shop, her husband told her to reconsider. "He said, ‘You love what you do; you wake up and can’t wait to do it.’
"And he was right."
Serendipity. A second chance, both for her and the furniture she continues to find.
Style Minneapolis is located at 4501 Nicollet Ave. S. Hours are noon–7 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call 377-3331.
Goodbye, Garden Sampler
The Garden Sampler, the Linden Hills institution that sells gardening supplies along with a menagerie of home accessories and gifts, will close next month.
Garden Sampler co-owners Sue Crabtree and Linda Smith opened the store in the neighborhood 12 years ago, after spending four years at the 50th & France intersection.
Crabtree said they decided to close for a variety of reasons, most of them personal. The women, both in their 60s, are interested in spending more time with their families, particularly their grandchildren.
When the Garden Sampler closes, it will end Crabtree and Smith’s three-decade partnership, which began with a small boutique in Edina and at one time included owning and running three stores at the 50th & France intersection.
Crabtree said that while she’ll miss the neighborhood, customers and employees that have been so good to her over the years, the time had come for a change.
She and Smith haven’t yet decided what that is.
"We will just take a deep breath and maybe lay back and enjoy it for a little while. We both still have lots of energy, so we won’t be sitting around eating bonbons."
All of the Garden Sampler’s merchandise is now on sale, and Crabtree said they will continue to sell everything they have, at increasingly discounted prices, until it’s gone. She said they expect to stay open into early February.
Garden Sampler is located at 4301 Upton Ave. S. Hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays; and noon–5 p.m. Sundays.
Other comings and goings
• Cowboy Slim’s, a saloon-style bar and eatery, is scheduled to move sometime this year into the old Campiello space in Uptown (1320 W. Lake St.). It’s run by the After Midnight Group, which also runs Sally’s Saloon in Dinkytown and the Cabooze bar and club in the West Bank.
• i like you, which offered locally made gifts, clothing, jewelry, art and more, is moving to Northeast Minneapolis. The store at Nicollet Avenue & 42nd Street closed late last month.
• Q Boutique opened last month in Uptown at 1404 W. Lake St. (adjacent to Stella’s Fish Café). The store specializes in high-end designer clothing and accessories, and features lines by up-and-coming designers that aren’t available elsewhere in the Twin Cities.
• Café Bean, a coffee shop at Penn Avenue & 50th Street, has closed.
• Three Fish, the popular seafood restaurant on Excelsior Boulevard, has closed.
A few farewell thoughts from Betsy
We weren’t able to get ahold of Betsy Killion, owner of the now-closed Betsy’s Back Porch Coffee at 5447 Nicollet Ave., in time for the last issue. But when we tracked her down, she gave us a few thoughts about he store’s Dec. 14 closure and her future.
“I’m job hunting and working on a resume,” she said. “It’s hard to envision anything else at this point. It’s hard to match a career that had everything, like this one did.”
Killion ran Betsy’s Back Porch for seven years before financial troubles, largely related to nearby Interstate 35W construction, got the best of her. The community rallied with a fundraiser, but it wasn’t enough.
Killion, who lives in Hopkins, said she might open another business someday, but it’s not financially possible right now.
“It’s always a possibility,” she said. “I learned a whole lot in my seven years here.”
The Betsy’s Back Porch building is available for lease. Killion said she heard there was already some interested parties, but she didn’t know anything further.