So what of the old Uber Baby space on Lyndale, across the street from Bachman’s? On Tuesday, April 1, it will reopen as Our Little Secret, the quaint accessories and home decor shop owned by Nancy Nelson, wife of the late Bill Carlson of WCCO. It’s a tough time for Nelson, but her store is a welcome diversion and she’s excited about moving it four blocks north to this higher profile address. It was only a few weeks ago that I bumped into Nancy and her distinguished husband at the store – despite his illness, Bill was beaming with pride.
I was a little disappointed by the merchandising of Kiddywampus at its new location in St. Louis Park. Despite the larger, higher-profile space, it seemed like they actually had less to sell. Mainly, there was more typical arts and crafts supplies than the high-design play and home objects that used to be the focus. But I’ll give them a chance to settle in, and the owner did assure me that not all shipments made it in time for the opening, a common problem in retail.
Besides, any deficiencies on the retail front, Kiddywampus more than makes up for with its improved focus on activity. The art studio has expanded to a cool, lofted space with windows. In addition to classes, there are open studio times so you can drop in without a reservation when your little Picasso is feeling inspired, or you’re about to lose your mind. Plus, they’ve added a play room that can be reserved for groups or play dates with friends – the kids get to explore new toys on neutral turf, and best of all, you don’t have to clean up. Get all the details at Kiddywampus.com.
For those who like to stay on top of the shopping news, Uber Baby – formerly located at 60th and Lyndale – opens at the Galleria this Friday, March 28. It will share a space with the newly remodeled Expecting Uber Baby. (The owners had been planning separate stores across the corridor from each other, but changed their minds when customers said they’d prefer to shop for maternity clothes, diaper bags, dad gear and baby goods in one spot). The new Uber Baby will have a tighter focus on gifts, decor and children’s shoes – nearly two dozen hip lines. If only we could stop their little feet from growing so fast!
I stopped by StormSister Spatique on the west side of St. Paul this afternoon and next thing you know, my hair smelled like roses and I was exfoliating my smackers with a sugary new lip scrub owner Becky Sturm is in the process of testing. You just don’t get this kind of attention and enthusiasm at a chain store. Sturm was excitedly unpacking boxes of new items, like hair and body powder from a line she just introduced: Principessa. Yes, powder intended for the hair – to freshen the roots between shampooings. Sturm says it works like a charm, and I believe her!
Seems fitting that North Face opened its first Twin Cities store on a blustery, snowy day. Located next to Urban Outfitters and the new Victoria’s Secret at 3008 Hennepin Ave., the store is a good get for Uptown, which hasn’t given us a lot of reasons to shop in recent months. Of course, North Face isn’t exactly an exclusive brand anymore, but don’t let that deter you. The company store features the full line of North Face apparel for women, men and children, plus shoes, sandals and even quilted tote bags that don’t look the least bit outdoorsy. The shop is bright and spacious, but just one level and with none of the circus-like attractions we’ve come to expect at recreational gear stores. The merchandise speaks for itself. The staff, however, needs to work up some enthusiasm. Two associates stood by the door on opening day when I stopped in, yet neither welcomed, or even acknowledged, me. Good thing the jackets are warm.
Horst Rechelbacher’s much-talked about Intelligent Nutrients line of edible, organic hair and body products will finally be released in full this May. He partnered with Regis Corp., which seems to have provided just the kick in the pants the creative genius needed. Gordon Nelson, executive vp of Regis told me yesterday that the full collection of products will be introduced in May at a New York event. New York? But Horst is here, as is his cool IN store and cafe, and Regis is based in Minneapolis as well. "We’ll have a party in Minneapolis, too," Nelson assured me, "but we’re launching in New York." I did at least get a whiff of the shampoo – right off of Nelson’s head. Smelled divine – good enough to drink.
I was underwhelmed by Janie and Jack, Gymboree’s higher end boutique, which opened at Mall of America today (first floor, south side – just down the hall from Gymboree). The clothes look like Gymboree, but more subdued and more expensive. If I wanted to spend $40 on a pair of toddler boy pants or a little sun dress, I’d rather shop an independent children’s boutique with more unique brands. I’m more anxious for Gymboree to open its other new concept here: Crazy 8, which is supposed to compete with Old Navy, selling baby and children’s clothes that are both style and price conscious. Enough with the giraffe prints and $30 onesies.
The suit with an untucked dress shirt, the hugs and the harsh advice delivered with such sincerity it comes across as nice is not just an act for TV. Nick Arrojo of TLC’s "What Not to Wear" lived up to his reputation as the ideal makeover hairstylist when he appeared Thursday at the new PureBeauty boutique/salon at Mall of America. I lost count of how many fans told me they’ve never seen him give a bad haircut on the show. Arrojo – who looked cute with close cut curls and a goatee – shrugged off the compliment but admitted, "It’s good for business."
He was supposed to stand at the front of the store – signing autographs, posing for pictures and offering quick tips, but Arrojo had other plans: He set up at one of the stylist stations in the back of the shop and spent several minutes with each woman who waited on line just to get his advice. He even whipped out his scissors to cut some bangs. It’s no wonder people love him: Arrojo’s criticism (bad bangs, no bangs, washed out color, lack of layers) comes across as constructive every time. After more than an hour at his side, watching him size up hairstyles in an instant and dispense advice, I asked Arrojo if a pattern of bad hair was emerging. The good news is, Minnesota isn’t the only place where some women take blond too far or let their hair grow too long. "The problems are the same everywhere," he said. Read more about bad hair and Arrojo’s suggestions for how to fix it in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday, March 19.
I got a sneak peek of the Twin Cities’ first PureBeauty shop and mini-salon, which opens Thursday at Mall of America (first floor, just outside Nordstrom). The small chain was recently purchased by Regis, which plans to turn all of its Trade Secret salon/stores into PureBeauty. In an increasingly crowded beauty market – especially at MOA – you’ve got to have a gimmick and PureBeauty touts its Beauty Metrix computer system. If you’ve got 20 minutes, a trained associate will analyze your skin and hair and make product recommendations. Warning: seeing your skin and hair follicles magnified 150 times does not make for a pretty picture. My analysis confirmed that my skin is dry, I’ve got fine lines around the eyes and my hair is healthy (thank goodness I rocked at least one section of the exam). The point is to zero in on the right products, and PureBeauty does offer an impressive selection, from GHD styling tools and Pureology haircare to Dermalogica skin care and Jane Iredale cosmetics.
Stop by Thursday, March 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – "What Not to Wear" hairstylist Nick Arrojo will give 30 second hair consultations (wow- that’s half a minute!) and sign bottles of his Arrojo product line. PureBeauty is the first place to buy it outside of his New York salon.
Now that’s a fashion show. Minneapolis designer Joy Teiken of Joynoelle skipped ClubDiva this weekend to team up with Monique Lhuillier for Sunday’s elegant Runway Luxury fashion fundraiser hosted by local philanthropist Blythe Brenden at the new Hotel Ivy. It’s rare in Minneapolis to be treated to a show where the fashion commands center stage: no rock bands, no dancers or drag queens – just a runway, a few rows of squished seats, dramatic lighting and music with a beat. And judging from the well-dressed, enthusiastic crowd, the Twin Cities is hungry for more of it.
Teiken showed her versatility and love of the female figure with looks ranging from 20s-inspired to simply modern cocktail dresses. She can drape with the best of them, and her attention to detail came across in everything from a silk organza coat dress decorated with a hand-beaded poodle and scalloped hemline to charmeuse gowns with ruffled necklines. The best part of having Joynoelle’s studio right here in town: any piece on the runway can be custom ordered to fit.
And you’ve got to hand it to Teiken: sharing a runway with Monique Lhuillier is daunting. As home to one of just two flagship Monique Lhuillier salons in the country, Minneapolis enjoys great access to one of today’s true fashion stars. No, Lhuillier wasn’t there in person – but her spring collection represented – in lovely shades of mint and butterscotch. Soft and gorgeous one shoulder chiffon gowns, strapless cocktail dresses with beading – makes a girl long for an occasion befitting the dress. The $3,400 or so to buy one would be nice, too.