Wilson & Willy’s showcases products from local manufacturers

Half of the Minneapolis store’s stock is made by Minnesotans

By Erica Rivera

“I had a love for the rediscovery of American manufacturing and all that it means for the people who are making these items and the consumers’ feelings of buying something of quality that has personal resonance,” says John Mooty, founder of Wilson & Willy’s, a North Loop neighborhood store that opened in January.

The inspiration for the store came from the three-plus years Mooty served as the Marketing and Creative Director for the Faribault Woolen Mill Company. He was responsible for product development, branding, design, and the strategic partnerships that helped re-launch that company. After finishing his MBA in May of last year at the Carlson School of Management, he decided to create a place where different manufacturers — from Minnesota and across the country — could come together and showcase their wares. The vision for the store was to play the role of storyteller and aggregator.

To that end, Mooty partnered with Rita Mehta, the creative force behind the retail blog The American Edit. Both brought their networks to the table to decide what brands to bring into Wilson & Willy’s.

“The initial introduction of who we had was a product of who we knew, who we respected, and who we were excited about,” Mooty says. “The assortment has no bounds but it’s all tied together through the theme of how it’s made, who it’s made by, the support system and the storytelling of the landscape.”

Wilson & Willy’s is not a men’s or women’s store, but more of a modernized general store that sells housewares by St. Paul potter Joanna Buyert under the Fringe & Fettle label, heritage stuffed animals by Jen Murphy’s Polka Dot Club brand, notebooks from Minneapolis-based letterpress printer Studio On Fire, and backpacks, duffels, and totes from Duluth Pack, among many other items and apparel. Approximately half of the products in stock are made in Minnesota. Many others are created in collaboration with artisans and tailored to Wilson and Willy’s aesthetic.

Mooty sees Wilson & Willy’s as more than a place to pick up a unique sweater or a hand-crafted leather wallet. In addition to increasing visibility of, and driving interest in, local manufacturers, Mooty hopes to host manufacturing pop-ups in the future. “It’s a place for discovery, for education, for awareness,” he says. “It’s a snapshot of what’s going on here in Minnesota and across the country.”