Thank you @minneapolislakes for the Retail + Shopping Feature on S+J in this month’s magazine issue!
With its exposed beams, concrete floors, large windows, black and gray hues, and great music, Serge + Jane has a hip urban feel. And no, it’s not a nightclub, but a local retail store where shopping is an immersive experience.
A lifestyle boutique, Serge + Jane opened in November 2019 and was literally designed from the ground up by Jamie and Casey Carl. Coming from a retail background at Target, they used their expertise and thought outside the box when it came to creating their own store. And, they chose to build it at 44th & France in Edina because they live in the area and wanted it to be near their friends and neighbors.
The atmosphere of the store is laid back, sexy, and passionate. “It’s very crisp and chic,” says Jamie. “It’s meant to feel a little bit urban in a suburban area. We are adjacent to Minneapolis and wanted to channel that downtown vibe.” Even the name has a cool story to it, which you can find on its website: @sergeandjane
Her husband Casey creates all the music sets that are played in the store. “Music plays a huge role in the experience when you’re shopping,” says Jamie.
And since Casey’s passion is music, especially on vinyl, the store has a great selection of vinyl records for sale. “Even before COVID, vinyl was making a comeback, but what we saw during COVID with people spending so much time at home was that they enjoyed the ritual of listening to an album they remembered or discovering new artists and sitting down and listening to music and hearing it how it was recorded,” she says. “It has a live feeling to it and not as manufactured as what you will find on a streaming channel. You’ll hear the grit and maybe feel like you’re a little bit closer to the music.”
The three large retail floors are filled with merchandise for every member of the family, especially when it comes to apparel. “Our clothing style is very laid back and influenced by the West Coast,” says Jamie. “We have different brands than what’s usually available around here and we want it to feel casual. So even if it’s a dressy occasion, it still feels very effortless and sophisticated but not too overdone or fussy. And that’s how I hope people feel when they enter our space.”
In addition to clothing, accessories and home goods, Serge + Jane also carries some great toys, apparel, and other pet related items, and shoppers can even bring their dogs with them. The pet bakery is also a big hit with its cookies, cupcakes, and treats made by a group of neighborhood teenage entrepreneurs.
Jamie and Casey feel strongly about buying local and supporting local, so shoppers will find plenty of unique merchandise from various area vendors.
“There’s a big maker’s market environment here,” says Jamie. “We do a lot of pop-up shop events so people can shop and meet the artists here as well.”
Another interesting aspect of Serge + Jane is the walking gallery in the stairwell. “We highlight local artists and have a launch party for them to kick it off with drinks and cocktails,” she says. “And, we change it out every three months.”
Jamie and her staff make sure everyone who comes through the doors feels welcome. “Our team is exceptional and customer service is very important to us,” she says. “Carol Werness, our store manager, has more retail experience than even Casey and I do. She owned her own store for years before she came on board with us. When people walk in, they are greeted and seen, so we’re very hands on with our clients. We want them to be happy with what they leave with.”
In addition to the everyday shopping experience, there are often fun events for shoppers to attend. Jamie’s last 10 years at Target were spent leading the internal events team, so she has been using those skills at Serge + Jane.
“At least every week or two we’re doing something where we’re utilizing our rooftop or our space in the store,” says Jamie. “We did a Mother’s Day event where moms shopped on all three floors and then were able to have champagne and individual charcuterie boards while hanging out on the rooftop.”
Reaching out and giving the community a place to gather and do something beyond shopping is something they strive to do. And although they have a great website for people to shop online, Jamie feels that there is something special about shopping in person.
“I do believe that people, even when rushed and with limited time, like to carve out an opportunity to see what’s new and what’s happening that they just can’t get from scrolling through websites. You get more out of it when you can see and touch things in person. There is an experience to be had when you come into our store.”
by Sue Baldani
Photography by Lucy Hawthorne