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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for November 22nd, 2010

Receiving Oprah’s Favorite Things

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I’ve often rationalized, it’s probably for the best that I haven’t won a new home or a free cruise, because as wonderful as it would be gifted something huge and unexpected, I’m not inclined to jumping up and down or to public displays of crying. Neither is Angela Reeves of Minnetonka, but she tells me she surprised herself by “shedding a few tears” when she found out she was in the audience of the final  “Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things” show (well, the first of two final shows, anyway.) Reeves and her husband Fred weren’t the only Minnesotans there – Faith’s Lodge founder Susan Lacek was in the lucky audience as well – my pal Jason DeRusha had the scoop: click here.

Angela called in to Shop Girls on Saturday to tell us about her surreal experience on the show. (Listen here). After writing Oprah about her husband, Fred Reeves, founder of Street Therapy Interactive to help troubled teens, the two were invited to the show – with just a week’s notice. “I just wanted to see Oprah. It’s her last year,” Angela said. Okay, there was this little idea in the back of her head – given the time of year, and the bits of confetti she saw fall on a chair on stage before the show, but then a producer said the show wouldn’t air until next summer, and anyway, who would dare think it..until…it happened! “People were hugging and high fiving and a couple of people did fall on the floor,” Angela said. My husband didn’t understand the concept of what we were going to receive.” And receive they have – the 53-inch flat screen TV arrived over the weekend. Some smaller items, like books and cookware, guests lined up for and took with them after the show. For bigger ticket items, or ones that required sizing, coupons were given out that could be redeemed online. Oh, and Oprah did pay the taxes on everyone’s gifts. “She was so funny, so down to earth,” Angela said. “It was amazing.”

Apt to use apps on Black Friday?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I got out of doing the “talking to crazy shoppers who line up outside stores at 3 a.m. on Black Friday” story this year. Been there, done that. And frankly, with stores opening as early as 10 p.m. – or even remaining open all day on Thanksgiving – it’s become commonplace. (Get Black Friday shopping tips here.) What I’ll be watching instead is how technology plays into shopping strategy. Will shoppers be tweeting their best finds? Will they look up Facebook coupons from stores or log into Foursquare for discounts or send angry messages to retailers that run out of advertised doorbusters? Will they make use of the myriad shopping apps coming out just in time for the Superbowl of shopping? Best Buy, for example, is hyping two mobile apps for the holidays:

Shopkick: This free smartphone app detects “shopkick Signal” technology at select Best Buy stores (Target and other retailers participate, too). The customer instantly receives rewards called “kickbucks,” which can be accrued over time, then redeemed in the store or converted into store gift certificates. Customers can also provide the mobile number connected to their account at the cash register for personalized discounts.

Tecca: Curates product information, pricing and expert reviews to help consumers understand new technology, compare products, functions and prices. Simply scan a barcode and the app recognizes the product. Available for iPhone and Android as well as Web browsers.

Just two examples of how retailers are trying to incorporate social technology into the shopping experience. Will you use it?

Smart & Chic Black Friday (and beyond)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Want the opposite of waiting in line in the dead of night for 30 percent off a coffee maker at a big box store? Smart & Chic Beauty Lounge opens Black Friday in Northeast Minneapolis, 20 University Ave. N.E. (across from Surdyk’s). Smart & Chic will offer all the finishing touches: hair styling, blowouts, extensions, makeup application and lessons, eyelash extensions and manicures. Perfect for bachelorette parties, or a night on the town with friends. (Book appointments online.) The Smart & Chic (literally) boutique will feature hip lines like Malin + Goetz, Jouer CosmeticsTokyo Milk and Np2 Nail Polish. Plus, hair pieces and accessories by local designer Bethany Lorelle, Nelle Handbags and others.

Founder Julie Swenson is building on what she started closer to the river, in the Cooper neighborhood. She and her team have been a go-to for weddings and special events for years, but the new space is sure to make them a destination and make us prettier. Now that’s smart! | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved