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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for March, 2011

Lavish Store Closing

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Lavish, the longtime gift, stationery and much more store, is closing its last door in Highland Park at the end of the month. The Maple Grove store has been shuttered already. It’s a straightforward story of small retail economics: owner Kathy Honey says the rent in St. Paul, next to Lund’s on Ford Parkway, has climbed to $13,000 a month. For a local shop selling cards, gifts and other non-essentials, “It’s proving difficult to do,” she says. All remaining merchandise is now 30 to 60 percent off.

Honey isn’t giving up, rather, rethinking her business model. She is forming a new company called A Little Lavish and plans to do gift and accessories trunk shows at senior living centers, as well as occasional sales. She hopes to have a booth at the Minnesota State Fair as well, and promises a few more tricks under her signature hat. “I’m sad for our loyal customers,” she says, “but I feel this is the wave of the future for small, independent retail.”

Until Honey launches her new blog, you can keep up with Lavish on Facebook.

Designer Arrivals for MOA

Monday, March 28th, 2011
Put in white marble floors and the designer stores will follow. Mall of America is getting Armani A|X, Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman. All three have signed leases to open sizable stores in the remodeled south wing, where Burberry has undoubtedly been a bit lonely.
“We are continuing to lure luxury retailers to Mall of America after the South Avenue renovation,” said Maureen Bausch, MOA’s executive vice president of business development, in a statement today. East Broadway will get a makeover this summer, with a Soho vibe.
Meanwhile, Armani Exchange plans to open this summer, with its street-chic mix for women and men. Michael Kors will follow in the fall, offering the full range of accessories and shoes from the Michael Kors, KORS Michael Kors and MICHAEL Michael Kors collections, as well as ready to wear, fragrance, watches and eyewear. The Stuart Weitzman store will feature shoes and handbags. All three are firsts for the Twin Cities.
Other newcomers announced today: two international retailers, Barcelona-based clothing chain Desigual and Superdry, a British chain; Bettie Page, a retro shop featuring timeless pieces (think pencil skirts and circle dresses), retro accessories and lingerie from sizes XS to 4X; See’s Candies first year-round store in Minnesota and finally something new (again) for the fourth floor, Sky Deck Sports Grille and Lanes, which promises “Minnesota’s most unique bowling experience,” video games, sports viewing, burgers and pizza.
Meanwhile, Merrell Shoes plans to open this month on the north side and Naartjie Kids is now scheduled to open on the south side in May.

Autumn Cottage: New Digs, New Direction

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Autumn Cottage, the Stillwater-based resource for New England cottage furniture, has moved back to its original space in the Brick Alley Building at 421 South Main Street in Stillwater.  Although a smaller indoor space, the company will be designing an outdoor area in front of the store to showcase its growing Autumn Cottage Outdoors furniture line. Outdoor furniture is a growth area for the company – don’t be surprised if the line shows up at other stores soon. While retail will continue to be a focus locally, Autumn Cottage plans to push its manufacturing business beyond Stillwater.

A Grand Re-Opening Sale is on now through April 5. Save 20 percent storewide. Mention that you read about it in AliShopsBlog for a double discount on select items (see store for details).

Inizio Closing

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Just a year after moving to South Minneapolis, Inizio is closing. The 11-year-old gift store relocated from Calhoun Commons to 50th & Penn in Minneapolis, which seemed a risky proposition for a store that was always solid, but never a true destination like Patina or Bibelot. But once I saw the warm space, reinvigorated merchandise, and owner Patricia Hefferan’s enthusiasm for bringing a gift shopping to her own neighborhood, I thought 50th & Penn might finally have found a store that would stick. But even in an urban neighborhood, it’s tough to draw a crowd – especially during a long winter. I thought Hefferan was smart to post big signs inviting customers to park in the Broder’s lot, but even that, it seems, was not enough.

“This difficult decision was something I have been thinking about for a very long time,” Hefferan says. “I enjoyed the last year in the new location – I am glad I made the move. After 11 years, it simply feels like the right time in my life to close the store and move on to something new.”

Good thing Patina is rebuilding at 50th & Bryant.

As for Inizio, save 30 to 60 percent storewide, including spring arrivals. The store will remain open through April, if inventory lasts.

Spring Collection: Jeanne Beatrice

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Perhaps if we get outfitted for a picnic, the weather will cooperate. Minneapolis-based Jeanne Beatrice is in the right frame of mind with her Spring 2011 collection of French market baskets. The bright stripes on this model ($74) are especially fresh. Jeanne Beatrice baskets are hand woven in Morocco out of renewable resources, including water reeds and palm leaves, with soft leather trim and leather handles.

Spring Style Dash + MNFW Tickets

Friday, March 25th, 2011

MNfashion takes its independence to the mall this weekend. That’s right: the local designers who seem the antithesis of all things Mall of America are  following through on their pledge to reach out to a broader audience. The Spring Style Dash takes place in the Nordstrom Court Saturday (March 26) from noon to 2 p.m. Three contestants will receive makeovers on the spot, and there will be a sneak peek of spring looks from the upcoming MNfashion Week shows in April.

Speaking of which, tickets for the MNFashion Shows, featuring promising designers Emma Berg and Kevin Kramp (pictured below) and Counter Couture and George Moskal, go on sale April 1. Get up close and personal with all four designers – and their designs – during a trunk show at the MNfashion Studio on April 16. More details on these and other upcoming MNfashion Week events here.

Uniquely Yours

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Linden Hills has a new fine jewelry store called Uniquely Yours, but it isn’t as new as you might think. Master jeweler Gregory Brassil and business partner Soren Priede have had a studio above the stores on Upton for 17 years. When a storefront in the heart of the neighborhood became available, they decided it was a gem of an opportunity (their pun, not mine – I swear) to show their stuff. Brassil is an expert platinumsmith; Priede, a master in metalworking and precious stones. Together, they create one-of-a-kind jewelry with semi-precious and precious stones, platinum and other metals. They pride themselves on custom work, and one-on-one service. Their studio is small, but hardwood floors, simple glass cases and better lighting have made it feel modern. Gregory is extremely welcoming – he had a lollipop and questions for my son, and tons of enthusiasm for his craft – without the pretense (or markups) of some larger jewelry stores. “When you hire me to do a custom piece,” he said, “You know that as soon as you leave here, I’m going to start working on it.” Watch repair, cleaning, polishing and appraisals are also offered. A grand opening is planned for April 7.

Living at the Mall

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Sometimes I feel like I live at the mall. Scott is actually doing it. He’s living in a glass apartment at the Mall of America for one month as part of an unconventional Blue Cross campaign called Human Do.Ing to encourage healthy living. (Guess he’s not eating in the food court, or at the Nestle Toll House Cookie Cafe next door). I passed through Scott’s neighborhood Saturday on my way from Nordstrom to Macy’s. What’s funnier than watching Scott check Facebook is watching everyone else watching Scott. (The bed and bathroom are private). But if you can get past the stares, having that nice sleek space all to yourself: open kitchen, modern furnishings, exercise bike and time to focus on nothing but yourself – just steps from DSW and H&M, doesn’t sound so bad.

Nelle for Anthropologie

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Minneapolis accessories designer Laura Nelli of Nelle is as giddy as a bride on her wedding day. Anthropologie proposed – and they pursued her! The retailer wants Nelle’s Just Bowtiful belt collection for its new wedding label BHLDN (short for beholden). The belts, $60, in shades of navy, blush and soft white, will debut on Friday, March 26.

This could be the beginning of a long and fruitful union: Nelli has been asked to submit designs for exclusives to BHLDN.

Stylista Project at Pacifier

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
Pacifier invites customers to participate in Tea Collection’s Spring Tea Stylista Project for kids ages 8 to 12. The staff at Pacifier, the Northeast Minneapolis kids boutique, will help kids get accessorized and then snap a few pictures to submit to Tea for the opportunity to win a two-night trip for two to San Francisco, including airfare, hotel, a $200 Visa gift card and an opportunity to participate in a photo shoot at the Tea studio.
The contest runs from March 26 to April 3. Three finalists will be posted on Tea’s Facebook page the week of May 7 and the finalist will be announced around May 17.
The week of the contest, March 26 to April 3, Pacifier will offer 10 percent off all Tea apparel for infants and children.
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