Innovative programs and shops on Nicollet Avenue


Southside Pride dropped by the interesting Simply Jane Studio and ArtAble over the weekend. The address is 5411 Nicollet Avenue, but if your method is to drive slowly looking for a sign like mine is, you might miss it, because it’s set back perpendicular to Nicollet, along with three or four other small establishments. Fortunately, there is a sign. The driveway is just south of WiseAcre Eatery and connects the avenue to the alley. Simply Jane Studio has a few dedicated parking spots off this drive, so you may not need to worry about Nicollet Avenue parking restrictions. Inside, we were warmly greeted by one of the staff, who explained thoroughly what Simply Jane is all about and what their offerings include. You can tell at a glance it’s about painting stuff, primarily. It’s not exactly paint by numbers, but it is using acrylic paint and staying in the lines of line drawings on canvases, but also on other objects such as mugs, trays and vases. As a member-based nonprofit, Simply Jane extends member benefits for $50 per year, which can include your family for the same cost. They have extensive hours for drop-in painting, which is $5 plus materials for non-members, or just materials for members. Additionally, they offer the studio as a venue for a painting party, with or without pizza, either for socializing or for fundraising. Also, classes are offered, taught by local professional artists, and again, members get a discount. Some of the finished art pieces are for sale, along with several adorable adult therapeutic coloring books, all drawn by Jane herself. We didn’t get to meet Jane when we were there, although she is there a lot of the time, but you can read all about her on the website at There is also a Facebook page for current goings-on. In addition to the in-studio activities, Simply Jane has a full schedule of disability art programs (their main mission), including “hospital- based” classes for expectant mothers on bed rest, cancer patients, and children undergoing major medical procedures. And for members with disabilities or mental illness, there is a scholarship program where part or all of the studio costs can be waived in return for some volunteer hours. You can also contribute to Simply Jane’s mission by volunteering, donating money, or buying gifts and gift certificates. Drop by and visit; this is a truly unique southside resource.
A little north along Nicollet Avenue you will find the Salt Cave. We have written about the Salt Cave before, but we still have not managed to squeeze in an actual visit. In the interim, they have greatly expanded their services and products, so let’s look at some of those. (Visit their website if you need more info or want to book a session: First, in the services line, there is now a full schedule of various group treatment sessions in the cave. Salt yoga—in partnership with Peace by Piece Yoga, salt Reiki, salt gong (sound therapy), and salt meditation—in partnership with, are all offered monthly (see the somewhat irregular schedule on the home page). In partnership with Tula Spa, you can have any one of a variety of chair massage techniques as you get your individual halotherapy (the correct term for salt inhalation treatment) for an add-on price plus tip. And the most intriguing new concept is Salt Cave Mobile, where they bring a salt cave, complete with a choice of seating and sounds, to your location for an event. A standard session in the cave (with 0 to 7 other people in there with you) costs $30 for 45 minutes, or you can buy a block of three for $75 if it’s your first time, or larger blocks at any time. Once you’re a convinced client, you can buy one-, three- or six-month “memberships,” which can bring the price down as low as $6 per session if you use it regularly. Also note—if you have an HSA and want to use it for salt therapy, all you should need is a doctor referral. In the products line, Salt Cave is selling pretty much every salt-related thing you have ever heard of—and salt is really big these days, isn’t it? Salt lamps of course, and candle holders, bath salts, salt blocks for culinary uses, edible specialty salts sold in bulk, and salt purifying-exfoliating bars for skin therapy. I really need to clear some time and make it to the Salt Cave.
InnerCity Tennis is probably mistaken at first for part of the parks system, since it has its headquarters in the Martin Luther King, Jr. park at 40th and Nicollet in the building that used to be (and is still often called) the Nicollet Tennis Center. Founded in 1952 as Northwest Tennis Patrons by Lachlan Reed and his wife, Martha Sweatt-Reed, and Martha’s father, Harold Sweatt (also a co-founder of Honeywell), plus other civic leaders, the organization became Minneapolis Urban Tennis in the 1980s. Subsequently, St. Paul Urban Tennis was founded, later spinning off into its own nonprofit organization. In 1994, Northwest Tennis Patrons became InnerCity Tennis Foundation. It’s estimated that over the six decades of its existence, at least 75,000 children have grown up participating in ICT programs. The building in which it was housed was in a separate organization, built by Jack Johnson on the site of outdoor tennis courts in 1973, then bought by ICT in 2000. ICT has too many programs to list here, so download their brochure or check out their programs at
Among the many vintage shops in town, B-Squad Vintage, at 3500 Nicollet Ave., is one of the survivors and thrivers. Recently celebrating 15 years in business, Betsy started B-Squad just off of Nicollet on 38th Street, but moved to its present location after the first two years. The building is in a great location, with plenty of parking but also good for walking, transit and biking. You’ll recognize it by the Nicollet Ball Field mural on the north-facing wall. The products for sale are a heady mix that concentrates on vintage clothing, mostly 1930s through 1980s (but with a few gems going back to Victorian or Edwardian times) for both men and women. If you want a real silk kimono actually from Japan, a velveteen column dress, or a church lady pillbox hat with a little veil, they will likely have it. But there is more than clothing here. A few home decor items, a good selection of vintage vinyl records and some tapes—cassette and 8-track—, board games, very early video games, and a small selection of electronics are in the mix. There are lots of great accessories too—hats galore, gloves both warming and formal, belts, wraps, neckties, and purses and bags of all descriptions. There is a wide variety of boots and shoes, men’s suits (I saw a baby blue polyester leisure suit jacket in my short browse through the store) and coats of wool, leather, and even real furs. Betsy is in the shop to buy your vintage items on Tuesdays from noon to 6 p.m., and the shop is open for sales Tuesday as well, plus Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. She can also make house calls if you have a lot to sell or an estate clearance.
Finally, a brief mention of farmers markets. We have covered the Kingfield FM before, so we’ll just mention that it’s open now, Sundays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 4310 Nicollet Ave. But there is another smaller FM a block off of Nicollet Avenue—the Whittier FM at 2608 Blaisdell Ave. You may have heard of the Caribbean pop-up restaurant Ingridients that was occurring at Modern Times Cafe. This is the work of Ingrid Richards, who is also the mother of well-known artist Junauda Petrus. Initially a Trinidadian food piece of one of Junauda’s performances, Ingridients went on to be a pop-up at Whittier FM before its gig at Modern Times, and it’s set to start popping up again there. The dates to watch for it are June 22, July 6, July 20, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10. Hope to see you there!

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