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#MyDowntownRochMN with Nicki de Vera

The Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) is excited to introduce a new campaign called #MyDowntownRochMN. The campaign will feature interviews with a variety of community members so we can share with you all the things they love about Downtown Rochester, MN. We want you to know to where the locals go!

RDA’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Samantha, will be doing interviews all year long so no matter what the season, we’ll provide you with firsthand accounts of how you can make YOUR Downtown experience even better. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Meet Nicki de Vera!

Samantha: Hi Nicki, thanks for being the first person featured in our new #MyDowntownRochMN campaign. We’re excited to learn more about you and what makes Downtown special to you. Tell us a little about yourself.

Nicki: I’m Nicki. I have an 11-year-old daughter named Giana and 9 year old twins, Bella and Wyatt. We love biking to Soldier's Field Park and stopping by the People's Food Co-op in the evenings. We also go to the Downtown Rochester Farmer's Market, even if it's just to browse, nearly every weekend. The Rochester Public Library has been a fantastic resource for us, especially in the late days of "sprinter" when we felt super cooped up. Being a single mother, a full-time student, and employee has meant activities on a budget that are done without much planning. Rochester is beginning to offer that with the newer Downtown atmosphere.

Samantha: I understand you recently started an internship at the Government Center. What do you like most about working Downtown?

Nicki: I live close to Downtown, so it's been fantastic to be able to commute by bicycle. There are SO MANY benefits to bicycle commuting; it takes me five minutes to get from my house to the Government Center, I'm not spending money on gas or parking, I get some fresh air every morning, and while it's short, I do get a bit of exercise. I can also head down to the People's Food Co-op for healthier choices during lunch and go on walks during my breaks.

Samantha: You mentioned that you live Downtown. How convenient! What do you think about Downtown living?

Nicki: I am so close to everything! I could ditch my car altogether and still be within minutes of anything I may need.I live in what has been deemed "Sunnyside" neighborhood. There are a lot of younger families mixed in with seniors which provides a nice variety. In the summer, there are countless kids out playing on our street. You can hear sprinklers, kids laughing, and people working on their homes. You can also see the fireworks from the Honker's Stadium and hear the music from Thursdays on First & 3rd.

Samantha: You mentioned Thursdays on First & 3rd – thanks for the shameless plug! What other events and activities bring you out on the town?

Nicki: Well, Thursday's on First is my absolute favorite. I love it so much, I decided to get a job at Dooley's last summer on Thursdays, just so I could people watch. But I always enjoy the occasional girls’ night out dancing, all the fun places to grab a bite to eat, shopping Downtown, and the many events that pop up each week.

Samantha: What are some of your favorite places to spend your paycheck?

Nicki: The shops Downtown have so much to offer! I always have a great time looking at clothing and furnishings at Refashion and Tangerine is fantastic for fun gifts, but my favorite store Downtown is Primp. I love that I can stop in there on a super short timeline and come out 15 minutes later with a few new unique items to add to my wardrobe. No joke - last week, a day before my commencement, I walked in there the moment they opened with exactly 15 minutes to shop. I walked out with two new dresses for well under $100 - ballin' on a budget!

Samantha: So you’re all decked out for commencement and you’ve got five minutes to spare. Where do you snap a quick selfie?

Nicki: Everywhere! The array of scenery Downtown, such as the Peace Plaza and the bike trails behind the Government Center, offer fun backdrops. Plus, the lighting can’t be beat!

Samantha: Great suggestions for photo ops. So, final question, you have exactly 24 hours to spend in Downtown Rochester, MN. What's your perfect day?

Nicki: I'd spend a morning and early afternoon window shopping in the subway and check out the underground network of hallways. I'd have fun getting lost and finding my way back to the Kahler Grand Hotel, you know, the one with the amazing glass dome over the pool, for a little siesta before reading a book or people watching at Cafe Steam. I’d head to Terza for dinner before painting with friends at Canvas & Chardonnay, and then relax on the patio at Chester's with my person before going out dancing with friends. The next morning, I'm all for going to Pescara's brunch buffet (hello, baguette French toast!), and then walking over to the People’s Food Co-op before heading back home.

Samantha: Sounds like a dream day! Can you tell me a little more about why you selected to spend part of your day at Canvas & Chardonnay? 

Nicki: Well, there’s the obvious reason of me going from painting like a toddler in a Mommy & Me class to being transformed into someone who can hang their piece on a wall in their home without much embarrassment. Canvas & Chardonnay also offers a place for the girls and me to get together and have fun. There’s conversation and it’s fun to see everyone’s individuality dropped onto their canvas. Also, I’ve known Lisa, the previous owner and Leah, the current owner for years. Both are genuine, creative souls, and you can see their spirit in there. While my medium isn’t necessarily visual (unless you count me drawing on my eyebrows every morning as art), I get to benefit from their lens, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Samantha: Eyebrows are definitely art! Thanks so much for sharing your Downtown with us, Nicki!

I'm not sure about you, but I'm ready to explore Downtown Rochester through Nicki's lens! Learn more about Canvas & Chardonnay in our next blog where we connect with Leah to hear what she loves about Downtown. 

Be sure to share your favorite things about Downtown Rochester, MN on social media using our hashtag #MyDowntownRochMN. 

Disclaimer: the views, comments, and opinions located within this blog are those of the community individual, not those of the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA).