Get to Know Greater Goods

Whittier neighborhood store owner-couple base their business model on giving back.

Right in the heart of Eat Street in the Whittier neighborhood is another yummy spot, of sorts. Here you’ll find cards instead of menus and knit foods instead of the edible kind. There are some wares made in Minnesota and others from around the country. What holds it together is the curated feel.
The store sells a spectrum of goods and gifts by a mix of local and international manufacturers. Inventory includes purses from Lithuania and stationery from Singapore, but also goods from producers the owners have met across the country. And it’s all tied together with a heavy sprinkle of Minnesotan.

It’s here where Lauren Gryniewski and her husband Joel bet on the neighborhood they’d always admired from afar.

“Before we started the store, my husband and I worked from home and tried to get out and work from coffee shops,” Gryniewski says. “We were drawn to the area, and we really liked the small businesses.”

After meeting in 2003 while studying advertising in grad school, they became interested in greeting cards. What followed paved the way for Greater Goods, a gift and stationery store opened in 2013 whose greater meaning exists in the form of an annual donation to an organization in the community.

“We liked going to small boutiques and finding well-crafted cards,” says  Gryniewski. “We got our hands on a letterpress and started making.”
Four and five years later the Gryniewskis left their jobs and finally got a space to work—this time not from home.

“Having a store was a natural fit,” says Gryniewski. “It felt like a great way to be more rooted in the community. We try to  pick one partner per year because we’re such a small store. We like our business to make a big impact.”

This year they’re hoping to make this impact on Safe Hands Animal Rescue, a Minneapolis nonprofit aiming to find permanent homes for animals. The Gryniewskis’ dog Ryder draws customers back to the store, and the couple wanted to tell that story. Previously, Greater Goods made donations to the summer youth program at MCAD , walk in counseling services, and St. Stephen’s.

“We like the idea that buying these things can also go back to make a difference,” she says, adding that the store is always open to new ideas. “We like to have people come to the store and tell us about causes they believe in and add those for consideration next year.”

Greater Goods’ employees are reaping the benefits, too. With many coming from a creative field, Gryniewski likes to find outlets for their work. One employee recently made posters for the store, and all of the employees are involved in voting for the annual donation recipient.

Greater Goods remains the flagship store for Old Tom Foolery and Modern Lore, the Gryniewskis’ respective stationery brands. You’ll find holiday and a great variety of other cards in the store, as well. “We try to have gifts available for every price point,” Gryniewski adds, noting variety is something they strive for, a signature of Eat Street itself.