Everyone who sells anything seems to be caught up in Black Friday fever this year. Stores that hadn't planned a sale are making one up as we speak. That's the beauty of smaller retailers - they can discount on a dime! Some of the latest: Urban Junket is offering 20 percent off on its popular new eco-friendly, multi-functional, bright colored T.O.T.E. bags. Enter THANKS at checkout through Nov. 30. Arafina is offering 30 percent off clearance - just until NOON, 20 percent after that. Doozie's doing doorbusters - 20 percent off, just until noon. Mystery discount at Creative Kidstuff: 10 to 30 percent off your purchase. Uber Baby's got 40% off. Ooh - here's a good one: 30 percent off site-wide at trendy plus size retailer Bandlu.com. today only. Check Sales/Specials for tons more Black Friday sales more civilized and stylish than big box mayhem.
For the crazy - er, committed bargain hunter, here are some key Black Friday store openings. Hitting them all is going to require some team work.
Noon: Thanksgiving Day: Old Navy opens select stores until 7 p.m. Go to Oldnavy.com for participating locations.
Midnight: Albertville Premium Outlets Midnight Madness. Some stores will open at 10 p.m. Thursday.
3 a.m.: Old Navy reopens.
4 a.m.: Kohl's, Sears and JC Penney open.
5 a.m.: Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Macy's open. So do Rosedale Center, Burnsville Center and Maplewood Mall.
6 a.m.: Mall of America hands out gift bags to the first 300 shoppers to line up in the Best Buy Rotunda. Each bag will contain a $25 mall gift card; 21 will be worth at least $500 in prizes, and one bag will contain a $5,000 MOA shopping spree.
Read more about Black Friday fever, and the sport's new uniform: the Black Friday Forever apparel line, in today's St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Standing on the Best Buy sales floor today, before a roped off, ceiling-high stack of 32 inch TVs that the retailer will discount on Black Friday, I was struck by how much this orchestrated event has changed. Just a couple of years ago, the big Black Friday story was rogue websites that were covertly obtaining and posting retailers' Black Friday ads, which were supposed to be secret until Thanksgiving. A flurry of lawsuits didn't stop the ads from leaking...and then came Twitter. Now, retailers are tripping over each other to announce their Black Friday deals. When you can't beat the consumer, charm 'em.
The good news for shoppers is you no longer have to worry about chasing rumors. When you decide to go shopping at 4 a.m., you'll know what's going to be in store. Go directly to the websites of your favorite stores and you'll find all of their sales plans listed. Follow them on Twitter or Fan them on Facebook for more details. You might also discover that the Black Friday deals will be available online on Thursday so you can save, and still sleep in
How to escape a thankless job on the front lines at a department store: Expose the shopper for her every inappropriate return and rude request in a funny new book called "Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store - Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate." So this year, former Nordstrom handbag salesman turned author Freeman Hall will spend Black Friday at a book signing rather than in the midst of shopping chaos. It's a fun book, whether you've worked the cash register or tried to return a handbag after carrying it 10 times. It brought me back to my days in the boys 8 to 20 department at Dayton's. So rather than dwell on the inevitable long lines and staffing shortages we're sure to face at the malls later this week, I devoted my pre-Black Friday Savvy Shopper column to acts of retail kindness...and other ways to avoid getting beat up at the sales. Read before you shop.
Just got word: local designer Jason Hammerberg will open a custom shirt shop for men at the Galleria in Edina called Hammer Made (I like it - has a stronger ring than the label he's been designing under, Humble Fashion). The store is scheduled to open the first week of December in the old InVision spot. Hammerberg, who got his start with Kuhlman, plans to concentrate on shirts and offer finishing touches like cufflinks and socks. More details to come - I get a sneak peek next week.
Thanks to everyone who came to the first ever AliShops Holiday Prep Party at Spalon Montage yesterday and made it such a success! Big thanks to Crave, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Max's for the delicious refreshments.
Tonia Kim's Toki Collection jewelry was a huge hit, as were my dad, Joel Kaplan's watercolors. Get some more of those cards made, Dad! If you didn't get your AliShops Holiday Passport filled with excellent discounts from dozens of local boutiques - you've learned your lesson, and you'll be sure to come to our next party. But don't fret - there are more. I'll be broadcasting Shop Girls at Kowalski's in Eagan from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Swing by, pick up your passport and start shopping!
Never thought of myself as having much in common with Calista Flockhart (I'm not even much of a Harrison Ford fan), but it turns out the "Brothers & Sisters" star and I share an affinity for the same specs. Eyeglasses designer Robert Marc told me so himself today when he made an appearance at InVision at the Galleria in Edina to promote his high-fashion line of glasses, worn by virtually every four-eyed celeb you can name: Katie Couric, Uma Thurman, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Calista Flockhart. I brought Robert four models to fit in frames for a story that will run in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But after, I couldn't resist asking his opinion on my own plastic frames..which I thought I liked, until he told me they were too straight across the top. "I don't know why I keep thinking Calista with you," he said, presenting me with three modified cat eye plastic frames - all worn by Flockhart in various scenes on "Brothers & Sisters." "Serious, but soft," he declared. Our favorites sell for $475. Wish I had the ABC wardrobe department to pay for mine. Here I am, dreaming, in Calista's frames. Keep in mind she had hair and makeup. And Rob Lowe.
When Jimmy Choo's budget friendly collection launches tomorrow at H&M, there will be crowd-controlling wristbands handed out in London. There will be huge lines in New York. But at Mall of America - you know, the biggest, busiest shopping center in the country and an international draw for tourists - all there will be is disappointment. MOA is not among the 200 H&M stores to get the highly coveted, limited-edition collection. This isn't the first time the Twin Cities has been overlooked for one of H&M's blockbuster designer partnerships. The suggestion that Midwestern fashionistas are less interested in $75 Jimmy Choo heels than women in Manhattan is ridiculously outdated. We're a global shopping society - luxury goods are never more than a click away no matter where you are, at any hour of the day. But even if it were true that there is less interest in smaller markets, MOA is an entity all its own. It draws not only Minnesotans, but shoppers from all over the world. If you're going to bother to have a store there - and a huge one at that - you ought to know the demographics and bring your A-game.
The rumors have been swirling for more than a year and finally, it is confirmed: Louis Vuitton will open a store at the Galleria in Edina in spring 2010. (No word yet on what, if anything, this means for LV's downtown boutique within Macy's.) The Twin Cities loves it some LV - this has always been a strong market for the designer brand - and one of the few the picky, logo-sensitive Galleria has been after for a long time. Quite a coup!