As I prepared to choose a topic for my contribution to the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance blog, I perused the entries of former bloggers. They covered topics ranging from downtown food and increasing tourism to local entrepreneurial spirit and the rewards it has brought to downtown Harrisonburg. I went in a decidedly more shallow direction and settled on the topic of shopping. Now I know there are arguably “more important” things to write about, however in light of a recent, refreshing addition to the Wetsel Seed Building, I decided I had to write about Mint.
As a young professional living and working in downtown Harrisonburg, life is pretty good. Living within walking distance of my workplace, restaurants, the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, and several bars, there are few things left to want. What could possibly be the fly in my ointment, you may ask? Finding a young, fashionable, affordable place to shop downtown.
Harrisonburg is known for many great things; however, shopping is not one of them. As a resident of Harrisonburg since my birth, I’ve often felt that fashionable places to shop are a scarcity. The Valley Mall seems to me to be for generations much younger and older than mine. The homegrown fashion lover is left with few options when the shopping itch strikes. I have for years shopped almost exclusively online or waited for the miraculous find at stores like T.J. Maxx and Ross. This all changed recently, when I discovered downtown’s latest treasure: Mint. Opened by Anna Melton Pelletier in March 2011, Mint is truly a breath of fresh air. As the name suggests, Mint is filled with fun, fresh goods for shoppers of every age. Not only can one find trendy seasonal must -haves, but there are also unique gifts and accessories to boot. Summer dresses, children’s books, stylish shoes, accessories, and gifts made from recycled items are just a start to the eclectic mix of items found at Mint. Even better, they are all at prices the most stringent penny pincher can’t resist.
To be honest, I have never been known to let a price tag get between me and a unique, fun, and pretty piece of clothing. I often leave stores with bags full of items “I couldn’t live without,” wondering later, “What the heck was I thinking?” or “How am I going to pay my water bill this month?” I tell this pathetic tale of shopping addiction to highlight one of the most enjoyable parts of shopping at Mint: I walk out with no regret. Not only do I no longer have to put myself in financial crisis in the name of looking cute, but I can also feel good about what I am buying. Mint carries several fair trade clothing brands, like Mata Traders, and is the exclusive Harrisonburg retailer of Sseko Sandals, (a company that employs Ugandan women so that they can afford a university education).
Now, if clothes shopping is not your cup of tea, Mint offers other options. I have recently witnessed more than one male in Mint enjoying fun books on the comfy couch that cover topics ranging from grilled cheese and tacos to the evolution of rear ends through the ages. Kitschy, tongue-in-cheek gifts are a specialty of Mint. For the more cultural connoisseur, Mint showcases the works of local artist Lynda Bostrom. Bostrom’s work mirrors the fun, delicate, eclectic, and eccentric vibe that Mint exudes.
Mint’s relaxed atmosphere combines with its beautiful, silly, and engaging items to create an awesome downtown addition. Hopefully, Mint’s fun, fashionable, and responsible inventory is just a taste of what’s to come in downtown retailers.
Stephanie Armentrout is a Client Services Associate for Rosetta Stone and a member of the HDR Promotions Committee.