dwell local, Take Two

More destination shopping in Zumbrota
By Holly Galbus
Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

Dwell Local, a boutique favorite of Rochesterites since its opening in 2014, is now also in Zumbrota. The eclectic shop features locally handcrafted and uniquely curated gifts and home decor, furniture and fair-trade items. Owner Paul Bennett, transformed the building located at the corner of Main Street and West Third Street in Zumbrota, in just a few weeks to create a new shopping experience for those familiar with the Rochester store. “The space is entirely different,” Bennett says. “It has its own identity, while still feeling like Dwell Local.” The physical space is larger and, with 40 feet of windows facing Main Street, substantially brighter.

There’s a second room behind the main retail space for classes and other events. Current class offerings include enamel jewelry making, painting and stained glass making. Plans are in the works for yoga classes and an open mic night. Bennett has added new vendors, or “local makers,” to the mix and also expanded some of the department offerings. Both the baby gift area and pet owner sections are noticeably larger in Zumbrota.


Zumbrota has become known as a destination for fun and unique shopping experiences. The 20-minute drive north of Rochester brings you to Main Street Zumbrota, where a number of boutiques—Wild Ginger, Luya Shoes and Other Fine Things, Phenomenal Woman Consignment and My Happy Place—are all within a few blocks of each other. Store owners are part of Zumbrota’s Downtown Business Association, a strong network of small business owners who support each other through the joys and struggles of working in the competitive retail marketplace. 

It was an ideal environment for Bennett to expand his business. “I had been thinking about a second location for a while,” he says. He came to Zumbrota one day two months ago and saw the “For Rent” sign. Buoyed by the support of friends Roxanne Bartsch, who owns Wild Ginger, and Connie Hawley, owner of Luya, Bennett was ready to move forward with the second location. 


Before Bennett could move Dwell Local into the building on Main Street, repairs and updates were needed. The building’s owners replaced windows and installed new carpeting, walls and a front awning. Bennett then began to move in his rustic cabinetry and merchandise. The boutique’s Grand Opening on September 7 was indeed grand. Nearly 500 people came from around the area, including Zumbrota, its small neighboring towns and Rochester, to see the new Dwell Local. The boutique bustled with customers throughout the day, who watched artist demonstrations, purchased raffle tickets for three prize packages and browsed the shop while sampling appetizers and coffees.


Bennett was born and raised in Rochester. He spent time after college in southern California, working in retail merchandising for Disney and Ikea and then transitioned into residential and interior design. After a stint in Chicago, he moved back to Rochester eight years ago. Bennett opened the first Dwell Local in the former Paws and Claws Humane Society building located at 602 Seventh Street NW in Rochester. He says he opened the boutique because it was challenging to find creative items and furniture to use in local homes. Bennett plans to divide his time between the two stores.


Zumbrota’s Downtown Business Association organizes a few shopping events throughout the year. The individual shops feature special promotions at this time and make the experience extra special with treats for shoppers. “Shop the Block,” the annual kickoff to the holiday shopping season, is November 22 and 23 in Zumbrota. For a complete list of events, as well as a schedule of classes, visit dwelllocal.com or check out the Dwell Local Facebook page.

Holly Galbus is a news reporter and Rochester freelance writer.