When you’re shopping in Rochester, Minnesota—the “#1 Happiest Mid-Sized City in America”—be prepared for an extra special dose of friendliness directed toward visitors.

Hers and Posh Boutique--two of the city’s favorite women’s apparel stores—have earned hospitality industry recognition for the extraordinary attention and service they provide to the city’s many visitors.

The owners, managers, and staff at these establishments won’t just stand behind a register and ring up your sale. Instead, they intend -- and even expect -- to connect with you as a person. Why are you visiting? Where are you from? What are you shopping for today? These are all questions you might be asked while shopping for your latest, greatest head-to-toe outfit plus accessories at Hers and Posh.

A passion for fashion and customer service: “We’re helping friends instead of strangers”

Bruce Dahlstrom, co-owner of two downtown Hers locations with wife Brenda, says out-of-town shoppers—often Mayo Clinic patients--become regular, favorite customers for his team. The team makes an effort to engage such shoppers in conversation, and to provide a pleasant environment. “Our whole mantra is, how are we connecting with the customer? If we didn’t make a connection, then we failed.”

At Posh near Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Hospital, the outlook is much the same. There, creating an exceptional retail experience is also delivered through fostering rich, deep conversations with customers, says Posh manager Suzanne Smith.

“We generally want to find out how our customer’s day is going, or know what’s going on in their lives,” Smith says. “There are many customers who I have phone numbers for and they’ll text me to ask me to hold something that’s just come in. It makes my job more fun because it’s like you’re helping friends instead of strangers.”

Posh opened nearly two years ago, in August of 2015, a handful of years after the original Posh Boutique debuted in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Smith says the store owners did their research and determined that Rochester was a less saturated market for boutiques than the Twin Cities, and that there was a greater need here for their unique merchandise.

At Posh, the style caters to moms in the 25 to 40 age range. However, they’ve also found success in clothing college students, and on occasion they see senior citizens at the racks as well.

“We call our style casual chic,” Smith says of Posh’s clothing lines. “We cater to a mom lifestyle where it’s comfortable and relaxed but we also carry clothes for young professionals. We hit this middle point that’s often missing in clothing. It’s a very sophisticated, clean look.”

Out-of-town visitor Lesley Good hits up Posh whenever she's in Rochester. She says she loves Posh's hip, stylish, age-appropriate clothes and even the store's design.

"Everything is crisp, clean, coordinated," she says. "It's easy to shop the racks there. I love the variety. Their stuff never goes out and of style. There are so many timeless pieces."

Memorable from head to toe: “Deliberate exclusivity” in selections

Hers in downtown Rochester features a lot of colors and prints, says Dahlstrom. Their customer base trends from age 35 to 55 “but age is more of an attitude than it is a reality because the 60-year-old wants to look 50 and the 50-year-old wants to look 40, and they dress that way. Nobody wants to look older than they are, right?”

Hers opened in 1980 at Apache Mall under Bruce Dahlstrom’s dad. Bruce came into the family business in 1989, and eventually wound up without the Apache store but instead with what are the current two downtown Hers locations. Each has its own vibe and feel, and each has a steady stream of customers who favor one location over the other, Dahlstrom says.

Dahlstrom travels with Brenda all over the country to select the lines they stock. “We try to find lines only we have in town,” he says. “If someone else has it, we’ll pass. We try to get memorable pieces. It’s almost like the person wants to remember their trip to Rochester, so they pick out a unique piece that they want to associate with Rochester and the fun visit they had here.”

Hers carries everything from casual clothing to party dresses and professional attire. Trendy tops go over a stunning pair of jeans, and all the accessories such as jewelry and purses are available here, too. Be ready to exit with a total, eye-catching outfit.

Posh stocks everything from tops and bottoms to purses, scarves, hats and shoes. The Posh owners, like Dahlstrom, hit clothing markets around the country to select exclusive merchandise for their curated stores. They specialize in premium denim, with seven different lines of jeans.

Posh also strives to outfit their customers from top to bottom if they so wish, and only carries about six pieces of every article of clothing they sell. Running out of sizes is a trick at Posh but, then again, it means the women who landed those six are unique and showcasing rare finds.

The exclusivity of their clothes is deliberate, says Smith. “We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by racks of clothes,” she says. “It’s in a clean line, there’s just a line with racks of clothes on it. It’s got an urban, industrial vibe to it with a nice sitting space in the middle.”

Rochester’s rich shopping scene is marked by a variety of one-of-a-kind independent shops. Whether browsing on Third Street, passing through downtown’s Shops at University Square or exploring the shops along the underground walkways, visitors find a variety of locally-owned stores and popular national brands. Apache Mall is southeastern Minnesota’s largest shopping center. One great benefit of shopping here? No sales tax on clothing!