Owning and operating a small business is seldom easy. The COVID-19 pandemic of the past couple of years has added to the challenges, and not every small business has made it through the tough times.
Four St. Paul small businesses, including two with Midway roots, are winners of the 2021 St. Paul Small Business Awards.
The St. Paul City Council presented the awards Jan. 12. The council honored businesses, calling out their “resiliency and commitment” to being part of the community. About 50 businesses were nominated for the 2021 awards, with 25 deemed eligible.
Council members Mitra Jalali and Nelsie Yang presented the awards.
Ginkgo Coffeehouse, 721 N. Snelling Ave., won the Peoples’ Choice Award. The business has been a fixture in Hamline-Midway neighborhood for more than three decades, and has had satellite venues ranging from area hospitals to CHS Field to the Science Museum. Jalali coted Ginkgo’s hospitality and local touch when presenting the award, and also cited its status as a community anchor.
The Snelling location was honored for its years as a community gathering space, with offerings including coffee, tea, baked goods and meals. Owner Kathy Sundberg has provided food and beverages for countless community events over the years. She has also mentored many new business owners.
Sundberg said she and her employees were pleased with the recognition. “It’s really an honor to receive this award,” she said. The longtime Hamline-Midway resident called out her staff members and their commitment to their jobs, as well as customers and the community.
The other winner, receiving the New Kid on the Block Award, is Lip Esteem. The award is for a business that has opened in the past five years.
Owner Tameka Jones recently moved the business to a storefront at 876 Selby Ave. She launched the business in the Midway area after the 2020 civil unrest. She calls her business “a unifier for all people.” Jones gives out products to women going out on job interviews, to help them look their best.
Lip Esteem’s products are plant-based, gluten-free, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. She uses the motto “Changing the world one tube at a time.”
Her product names reflect St. Paul locales. Lip Esteem has won local and national media attention.
The program is in its fifth year. Nominations were taken last fall, and the winners chosen by the selections committee.
Other winners are from the East Side. Golden Harvest Foods received the Traditions Award, honoring a business active in the city for at least 20 years. Hoa Mei Market and Deli received the Good Neighbor Award for its efforts to support and improve its community.
All of the winners received gift bags.
The 2021 selection committee was largely composed of past winners over the past five years. They are Nate Houge, Brake Bread; Milissa Silva-Diaz, El Burrito Mercado; Jamey Flannery, Flannery Construction; Abdiwali Ali, Karibu Grocery and Deli; Brianne Hamm, Securian Financial and Jill Pavlak, Urban Growler Brewing Company. Several city departments, groups and staff members help with the awards, along with the city’s 17 district councils.
See the awards presentation at https://stpaul.granicus.com/player/clip/3893?view_id=37&redirect=true
See a video about the winners at https://www.stpaul.gov/businesses/open-business/saint-paul-business-awards
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