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Bye-Bye, Booze: Number of Twin Cities NA Bottle Shops Quadrupling

Marigold's expanding, ZeroProof's moving in—the NA movement is catching on.

Instagram: @marigoldmpls|

Inside Marigold’s current location on Nicollet Avenue.

Racket's Keith Harris has been sober for a quarter-century, so of course, when NA bottle shop Marigold opened last year, he stopped in.

"Went to the NA drink store today and it was PACKED," he messaged, after visiting the Lyndale neighborhood newbie in January. "They might need a bigger store."

Prescient!

Marigold added extended hours in April to meet shopper demand, and then, not long after, there was a big announcement: This spring, Marigold will open a second location in St. Paul's Milton Square. "It felt like the right time to do it," says Marigold owner Erin Flavin.

The space is perfect: a charming little wine shop, woman-owned, easily accessible to folks in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and recommended to them by regular customers. "It really is like a jewel box—it's like the cutest, coziest little space," adds shop manager Lara Valente.

And soon, Marigold won't be the only NA spirits shop in town. A shop called ZeroProof has two locations in the works—one at 2516 Central Avenue NE in Minneapolis and another at 844 Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

"I got super into this nonalcoholic movement through my life and career in the alcohol industry," says CEO Logan Fleischman, whose background is in wholesale wine and spirits. That career led him to notice the growing popularity of NA spirits; at the same time, he and his wife were cutting down on their own alcohol use, though they still had an interest in bar and restaurant culture, mixology, and home cocktails.

"To be able to mix up drinks, or build a bar cart, or bring a six pack of something to a friend's party... it can sort of bring [people] back into the social scene that they might have missed when they gave up alcohol," Fleischman says.

Minneapolis's ZeroProof will soft open this weekend for Art-A-Whirl, says Fleischman. At about three times the square footage of the Grand Avenue shop, this will be like a flagship location, with a broader selection of beverages, edibles, tinctures, and topical items. Before long, they'll have an online store that offers shipping, and eventually same-day delivery—not unlike Fleischman's collaborators at Nothing But Hemp, who are helping to develop the concept.

(The ZeroProof shop isn't related to the local Zero Proof Collective or to The Zero Proof, an online NA shop.)

Left: Marigold's second location in St. Paul; right: ZeroProof's Northeast location

Fleischman is drawn to the functional side of the NA movement—the drinks that are free from alcohol but can, depending on what they're infused with, help with relaxation, or mental stimulation. "This whole broad category of what's really referred to in the NA beverage industry as 'functional beverages,'" he says, "where there's an added health and wellness benefit to the product.'"

ZeroProof will have everything from traditional nonalcoholic products—wine, beer, spirits, ready-to-drink mocktails, etc.—to beverages infused with adaptogens and nootropics like reishi mushrooms, cordyceps, and cava root. (And yes: they'll also have drinks with THC, CBD, and other minor cannabinoids.)

In many ways, the NA movement's been a long time coming. Eater's Dayna Evans wrote about the rise of the nonalcoholic bottle shop in 2021, and last year Thrillist's Liz Provencher reported on their popularity, noting that off-premise sales of no- and low-alcoholic beverages reached $3.1 billion in 2021, up from only $291 million the year prior. Shops like Spirited Away in NYC and Houston's Sipple have become little cultural hubs in their communities.

For Flavin and the Marigold folks, it's all about making an alcohol-free lifestyle feel like a normal part of the culture.

"The whole point is like, so punks like us who want to party don't have to make excuses for when they don't want to drink," she chuckles. It's not just a matter of making the shop feel cozy and welcoming; it means being a part of the community, whether that's doing tastings with local restaurants, marching in May Day, or hosting big NA celebrations like Vernal Vibrations, a huge non-alcoholic party at Glass House.

"I think there's more demand for it as a whole," Valente adds. They've noticed more local restaurants adding thoughtful NA drinks to their menus, and, of course, the demand at Marigold has been huge. "It's just becoming more the norm to have more elevated options for people who don't drink alcohol."

And all parties agree: This feels like an exciting new frontier. For Fleischman, the recent application of "elevated mixology" to alcohol-free drinks means there's boundless room for creativity in this space. Flavin is increasingly interested in new NA wines and cocktails that really push the boundaries of what an alcohol-free drink can be—"not just a one-for-one, gin for a gin," she says.

"The whole community is just ever-growing and expanding," adds Valente. "There really is room for everyone, and we're excited to see where this leads."

Marigold St. Paul
2236 Carter Ave., St. Paul
Opening early June

ZeroProof Minneapolis
2516 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis
Opening Art-A-Whirl weekend

ZeroProof St. Paul
844 Grand Avenue, St. Paul
Opening this spring

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