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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for February, 2011

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Finding Joy

Sunday, February 13th, 2011 has created a platform for countless artists, but it has also inspired the selling of handmade goods, even beyond cyberspace. Enter: Finding Joy, the new Excelsior boutique created by Christie Larson to showcase her own glass mosaic art (pictured), along with the functional and decorative work of more than 50 local artists. Emphasis on local – most of the artists live within 10 miles of the store at the Tonka Bay Shopping Center. Considering this is the first foray into retail for many of the artists, the merchandise is encouraging – pillows, birdhouses, vases, woodwork, cards, jewelry, baby goods and more priced from $2 to $300. See something you wish you could make yourself? Just wait- the back room is being turned into a classroom where artists will teach their craft. 5619 Manitou Road, Excelsior, 612-250-7286

Irina Shabayeva for Macy’s

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Remember Irina Shabayeva? The extremely competent, if not terribly exciting, winner of Project Runway’s Season Six is collaborating with Macy’s on a capsule collection for house brand INC International Concepts.  The collection includes 13 complete looks – tops to shoes -inspired by movement and dance, with colors and patterns that take a cue from the Rubik’s Cube. Form fitting dresses with bold blocks of color, vibrant jersey tops and skirts paired with army anoraks, and details like exposed zippers, white lace and jeweled beading. Prices range from $49 to $169. Irina for INC launches Feb. 19 in just 50 Macy’s stores including Southdale Center in Edina.

Dress, $169; shoes, $98

Jacket, $159; t-shirt, $59; skirt, $89; shoes, $98

Oribe the Fabulous

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Jon Charles, Oribe and me

“When I was styling Anne for the November cover…” That’s Anne as in Hathaway and cover as in Vogue. And that’s how Oribe grabs the attention of a room full of wide-eyed stylists – some of whom weren’t born when he was learning to tease wigs on Diana Ross. The legendary stylist, who has worked on every major magazine, with every important photographer and on every supermodel and A-list star from Kate Moss to Jennifer Lopez, swooped in to the Jon Charles Salon in Wayzata this week to educate staff on the Oribe product line, which the salon just picked up. Oribe demonstrated a few up-dos, like a variation on the “princess” ‘do he did for Anne. “Up dos can be so contrived – they’re aging. I wanted to take a young approach.” But despite all the fanfare and oohing and aahing at his every shake of the hairspray, Oribe keeps it real. “It’s a ponytail – pushed forward, with a fake piece in back and a couple pieces of crap in it. This is fun!”

Brazilian model Camila Alves has a new handbag line on QVC. There. Now that’s been said, and we can delve into more pressing matters, like how much time do Alves, her movie star partner Matthew McConaughey and their two young children spend on the beach?

“Not that much, really,” Alves said during an interview Saturday on Shop Girls, myTalk 107.1. Listen to a podcast here.

Alves and McConaughey live at the beach, and photographers are perched outside their residence on a daily basis, waiting for a shot – Levi’s soaked, droopy diaper and all. “It’s just part of the package,” Alves says of the near constant attention.

Muxo by Camila Alves launches Friday at The leather bags, inspired by different regions of her native Brazil, will sell for $126 to $260. Alves says she got into the handbag business with her mother to create distinct styles she wanted to carry – that could withstand the wear and tear of a supermodel’s globetrotting. At qvc, she’s bringing the prices down for the masses.

Back to Matthew McConaughey. Do you ever tell him, I asked, to put a shirt on?

“Why would I?” Alves replied.

Good point.

Muxo by Camila Alves Soft Pebble Leather Tote, $279.75

Muxo by Camila Alves Crinkle Lamb Leather Shopper Tote, $259.75

Special Delivery

Monday, February 7th, 2011
This week, shop Gaviidae Commons and have your purchases delivered to your sweetie’s doorstep within hours – for free. It’s true. Apparently, Gaviidae has had  delivery program for years (who knew), but typically there is a $100 minimum purchase. As a Valentine’s Day treat, Gaviidae is waiving the minimum.
There are some parameters: Metro delivery only, and no perishables. But I’m told both Cocoa and Fig and Indulge and Bloom have their own delivery programs. Pays to ask!

Supporting Larger Sizes

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

La Bratique is narrowing its focus to increase support for women who need it most. The 50th & France bra fitting studio will focus exclusively on larger sizes: D through K cup and 30 to 42 bands. Most women wearing a larger band really need a larger cup and a smaller band, says fit expert Tracy Anderson – and that’s but one of the bra buying mistakes women make.

Anderson opened her studio to offer service, sizes and brands you don’t tend to find at department stores. But it’s the most well endowed shoppers who need her most, Anderson says. She’s on her way to market this week, and plans to come home with an even broader selection in larger sizes – including fashion styles, nursing bras and camisoles (imagine not having to buy two sizes too big to get it to fit in the chest area). Brands will include Chantelle, Le Mystere, Elomi, and Prima Donna. La Bratique will also be adding a second fitter and more hours.

Don’t be intimidated to make an appointment. I’ve been fit by Anderson, and found her to be low pressure, yet extremely helpful. Having someone figure out what you need and bring it to you is a delightful way to shop. And for curvy girls who have never had that experience in stores, a visit to La Bratique could be truly uplifting.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

A Tall Tale About Espadrilles

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Bettye Muller "Sage," $170

The buyers at Pumpz & Co. tell me espadrille sales are up – literally. Their customer is buying a higher heel this year. In the past, the Galleria boutique has had to special order espadrilles in a 2-inch height. This year, 3.5-4 inch heels are selling. Could mean a younger customer is shopping Pumpz, or the usual suspects are willing to rise up for fashion. Either way, Pumpz is thrilled by the sexy shift.

Stylish Correspondence…Via App

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Minneapolis-based RedStamp is so smart. Rather than decrying the Evites of the world, this stationery company is evolving its definition of “stylish correspondence.”  So as of today, there is an app for that.

The 99-cent RedStamp app features digital versions of modern stationery designs with pre-written sentiments that can be sent via text or posted on Facebook and Twitter. So rather than a perfunctory email or text the morning after a lovely dinner party with friends (or the guilt a week later, because you intended to hand write a note but never quite got around to it), you can quick, send a pretty card befitting the occasion – virtually. Simple, sophisticated, stylish.

I’m so impressed by the way RedStamp founder Erin Newkirk uses technology to her advantage while some of her competitors simply hope consumers will return to paper when they want to show class.

“We are in the business of making relationships stronger,” Newkirk’s partner Lindsay DiLorenzo says. “And with the rise of social media and mobile everything, there are so many more opportunities to communicate. Faster. Easier. Better. Our charge is to blend the thrill of modern technology with the grace of stylish correspondence. We still love and believe in the handwritten note, but entirely embrace and encourage communication digitally as well. It’s the shared sentiment that matters most.”

Wonderment Closing

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Wonderment, the “no batteries” toy store, is closing both of its locations in Linden Hills and on Grand Avenue. “We’re out of money,” says owner Lisa MacMartin. It’s yet another reminder that we may be coming out of recession, but the fallout is still very real. Wonderment, which had a devoted following especially among Waldorf School parents, opened its St. Paul store just three months before the recession hit and has just never met the projected goals that would have justified the high rent. “I don’t blame our customers,” MacMartin says. “Timing is everything, and you can’t control it.”

Remaining merchandise is 25 percent off at both stores. Grand Avenue will close first, by Feb. 14, with Linden Hills to follow by the end of the month.

This will not be the last we shop with MacMartin. “I still feel compelled to be a retailer,” she says. She’s already plotting a come back, provided she can devise a “creative funding solution.”

Amore Coffee has been told to clear out of  Milton Mall, 917 Grand Ave. in St. Paul by March 31 – to make room for Anthropologie, according to Amore co-owner Nancy Breymeier, who has been speaking directly to the Anthropologie folks. Exeter Realty, which owns Milton Mall, will neither confirm or deny, telling me in an email they have “no comment at this time.”

Breymeier and co-owner Cathy Hauser  aren’t waiting for permission to speak out, rather, they’re launching a public protest. They posted this message on the Amore website: “Help us try to stay…We have been on Grand for 18 years! Let (Anthropologie) know that you value independent, caring community shops and want Amore to continue to serve our neighborhood. Until then, please visit us often … and thanks.”

It’s tough to see a longstanding local business like Amore get pushed out. Breymeier and Hauser have been tireless advocates for shopping local. (They will keep their other Amore location, at 879 Smith Ave., West St. Paul). At the same time, it’s all about balance. The Grand Avenue neighborhood has fought against chains repeatedly, and, from North Face to Chipotle to Patagonia, they’ve lost the battles. But I don’t think they’ve lost the charm or the cache of Grand Avenue as a shopping destination – and the questioning of each and every chain has prompted high standards. A store is not automatically villainous because it is part of a larger, national company. I’ve long thought (and have said so publicly) that Anthropologie would be a perfect fit for Grand (my plan was to put them between Pottery Barn and J.Crew) – it’s got a boutique feel and sophistication that only enhances the shopping scene, but has the popularity to draw young customers who, frankly, are probably more likely to shop 50th & France or Uptown. Anthro will give them reason to visit Grand Avenue, where they will also discover Picky Girl, Karma and the many other local gems.

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