W7 Collective - St. Paul's "Uncommon Market" - Happens this Week

One of the best things about living in the Twin Cities is uncovering all the fun, creative things to do around town. Pop-up retail is hot these days. And occasional sales have long been a part of our vintage/antique market. But when you take those concepts and throw in a healthy dash of high-quality, artisan goods, well, what you have then is the new W7 Collective. And being a St. Paul native, I always love to see this kind of happenin’ gig on my side of the river!

Started last fall by founder Judy Wilds Shimota, the W7 Collective moves into the historic Pilney Building on West 7th Street in St. Paul three days a month. These signature shows, dubbed “gallery socials,” are carefully curated to present unique works of art that are altogether functional, highly fashionable, and imminently displayable. Sure, you’ll find all kinds of fabulous stuff to hang on the walls, like this cool clock (left) from Pilot Design. But you’ll also find stuff to throw around your neck (scarves for the ladies and ties for the fellas), and maybe some letterpress cards, a t-shirt... you just never know what else. The beauty of this shop is that the assortment changes each and every month.

Through a juried process, the goods are reviewed and selected for each event. Though one designer might be displayed for two months running or reinvited later, it’s more common that the entire assortment will change with every event. So don’t wait to snap up something you see; it’s highly likely it will be gone the next month, sometimes even the next day!  Personally, I’m all over these gorgeous springy earrings from Raw Elements Jewelry (right).

The majority of the artists, ceramists, graphic designers and photographers are from the local and regional area, and many are onsite at the events to talk to you about their work. Judy says that artists can get drowned out by the mass-marketing, big-box approach to retail. “We believe that shoppers are no longer satisfied with the same, old homogeneous products found in every retail store, both large and small,” she explains. “Bringing together these local artisans, along with top-notch design, accessible prices, and a fresh shopping experience, and we offer our customers something that’s truly unique.”

Judy has big plans for the W7 Collective, some of which she’s a bit hesitant to announce just yet. She wants to see this edgy mix of artisans and this idea of a “fresh experience” come together in a bigger-than-an-art-crawl sort of way. Let’s just say we hope to see a lot more of these fine products and fun events as the year progresses. You can keep track of the W7 Collective on its Facebook page.

This month’s W7 Collective takes place this week, beginning TODAY. Here are the dates and times:
Thursday, February 11, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday, February 12, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 13, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
FYI, Friday nights are an extra special time to visit: the wine flows freely and local caterers showcase their yummy treats. I’ll be standing in the corner, wine in hand, showing off my new earrings.

Tracy Morgan is a Twin Cities foodie, cookbook hoarder and owner of all the right kitchen gadgets. Living in downtown St. Paul, she loves to take her green trolley shopping at the Farmer’s Market and see how much weight it can handle. When not spotlighting local goodies for Simple Good and Tasty, Tracy runs Segnavia Creative, a business development and marketing company that helps small businesses create big-picture strategies, understand branding, and navigate social media. She also serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op.