Inside the River Place office building near downtown Minneapolis, the gentle ambience of fountains, afternoon sunlight streaming through the three story windows, and Old World style iron wrought architecture frame Minnesota Nice Spice. As I step inside the little shop, I’m greeted by a warm curtain of spices and savory aromas. Minnesota Nice Spice may be small, but it packs a powerful punch of flavor, ingenuity, and good will. Debb Masterson is its energetic founder and owner, and her cozy shop is the result of her creativity and love of cooking. Debb’s philosophy is “Recipes are only suggestions, ideas to be altered and made personal.”Minnesota Nice Spice’s Comfort Zone Mulling Spice brings you right back to the cozy winter mornings of your childhood, and their Great Lakes Garlic and Herb blend is a savory experience which you’ll want to shake on just about everything. Their Cedar Plank Fish Set is just the thing for a fresh catch out of Lake Minnetonka. Their 10,000 Lakes No-Salt Blend is perfect for those of us watching our blood pressure, too. Debb’s favorite all-around summer blend is her Lake Superior Instant Salsa Mix.
Minnesota Nice Spice specializes in gift sets. By putting together corporate gift sets for businesses to give to their employees, Debb honed in on a niche market in desperate need of reinvention, making them among the best selling items in the shop. Debb’s entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive her to find new avenues her spices can reach. My favorite? She assembles wedding favors of sample baggies of her spices — so much more delicious and creative than pouches of Hershey’s Kisses!
Debb’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit again went into play when her sister Lucy came home one day from her time at the Interact Center, a nonprofit arts organization for adults with disabilities. Lucy told Debb that she had to start bringing in her own bottles of water because the Interact Center couldn’t afford a water cooler anymore. This got Debb to thinking about how she could help the Interact Center. Thus, the partnership between Minnesota Nice Spice and the Interact Center was born: A portion of each sale at Minnesota Nice Spice now goes toward supporting the Interact Center so Lucy and her fellow artists can stay hydrated and inspired while creating art.
Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, founded in 1996, has a mission to challenge perceptions of what disability means through the creation of art. They believe there is something special about art that teaches people identity, self-worth, and fellowship. The Interact Center works hard to offer opportunities to those whom society might expect too little of and give them the space and tools they need to create beautiful works of art on stage, canvas, or any number of other mediums. Interact Center is multicultural and intergenerational, so people from all walks of life can come together to celebrate the beauty of their similarities and differences.
Through unique partnerships like the one between Minnesota Nice Spice and Interact Center, our Twin Cities community continues to surprise us with the kind of ingenuity and generosity that helps organizations like the Interact Center continue on with their missions. If you want to get involved with the Interact Center, see more of what they do, or just appreciate some fabulous art, visit them at interactcenter.org. Be sure to stop into their reception at the Birchwood Cafe in South Minneapolis on August 14th to support their art opening. It will run for a month, and the restaurant will be decorated to the brim with work by Interact Center’s artists.
Minnesota Nice Spice is mostly a designated workspace, so mnnicespice.com is a great place to shop direct. It’s also easy to find their spices in local stores from big box places like Target, Whole Foods, and Hy-Vee to smaller shops like Lakewinds Food Co-op, Seward Food Co-op, and Grass Roots Gourmet. The Minnesota Nice Spice website has the full list of locations.
By Whitney Grindberg