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Archive for June, 2011

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Exploring Gordmans

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Finally got over to Gordmans, the Omaha-based discount chain that recently opened two Twin Cities locations, in Woodbury and Burnsville. It struck me as a jazzed-up cross between Bed, Bath & Beyond and Marshalls. I was greeted by a display of outdoor tableware, and right behind that was a considerable section of Twins apparel. Every product, from candy bars to coats to comforters has two prices: “Theirs” and “Ours” with a promise of savings “up to 60 percent off.” The apparel is brand name; I recognized more of the brands in men’s, like Union Bay and Izod. The store does a great job of appealing to children and teens, not just with clothes, but buckets of inexpensive bracelets and lip gloss, toys and a TV seating area. The store just keeps going: shoes, cards, pillows, small furnishings, Kitchen Aid appliances. I doubt Gordmans is going to draw from the west metro, but if you’re in the area, it is worth adding to your shopping rounds, especially when on the hunt for home accessories and fashions for kids and teens. Even if you don’t find what you went for, you’ll likely come out with margarita mix, a wrought iron bench or some other random item you hadn’t realized you needed.
Gordmans, Burnsville Center, Burnsville, 952-435-0004 or 8264 Tamarack Village, Woodbury, 651-714-8194

Red Hot: Nordstrom Fall Designer Preview

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

So much to love about fall fashion 2011. Nordstrom brought its Designer Preview to the Mall of America store tonight – one of just five nationwide to be treated to this super slick show, featuring 11 top collections including Chanel, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Givenchy. Tweed, fur, leather and geometric prints were among the key trends. And where there’s color for fall, it will be red. Now. To pick just one look for the cover of the August Shop + Style section of MplsSt.Paul Magazine – oh, the torture!

See the collections up close before they fly back to New York: Nordstrom Mall of America hosts a post Designer Preview trunk show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, June 24.

Local Design at Arafina

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The exhaustive efforts to send a cohesive collection down the runway during Spring MNFashion Week have paid of in spades for local designer George Moskal, whose line – including the white linen dress shown in MplsSt.Paul Magazine – was picked up by Galleria boutique Arafina.

Moskal is a former Target designer who studied apparel design at U.W. Stout, and interned Zandra Rhodes. Arafina was drawn to his “timeless elegance, silhouette experimentation, and couture techniques.”

See Moskal at our spring fashion shoot - talking about the challenges of making it in the fashion biz.

Russell + Hazel Expansion

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Russell + Hazel is an addiction. You can’t buy just one bright orange notebook or chartreuse file folder; you need an entire collection of fantastically fashionable office supplies designed to make daily life just a little more fabulous. Well, take note: Russell + Hazel is taking over the rest of the first floor at its 44th and France flagship location. The “binder bar” that was such a hit last back to school season will become a permanent fixture – even bigger and better and stocked with classroom essentials (and treats for shoppers) year round. It is scheduled to open in mid-July.
4388 France Ave. S., Minneapolis, 952-279-1360

How Young is Too Young?

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Tween/teen retailer Zelaz of Excelsior recently asked customers – parents and their daughters – what age is appropriate for girls to start wearing bikinis, short shorts, miniskirts and stilettos.

Girls thought 12 was appropriate for such potentially eyebrow-raising styles. Their moms felt more comfortable with 13. Dads said 15.

“No wonder there’s tension at home,” says Zelaz owner Janet Polach, who opened the store with her own teen daughter – who, lucky for Polach, prefers to wear cardigans over her tank tops).

Polach advises mothers and daughters to talk before they shop, and come to some compromises. Maybe daughter needs to find a longer skirt…and maybe mom needs to realize that showing bra straps isn’t suggestive, so much as common style for teens these days. Polach even suggests involving Dads – who rarely make appearances in the store – to avoid the “You’re not wearing that!” showdown the night of a school dance.

We talked about the issue on Shop Girls Saturday (June 18 podcast – hour 2) and heard from moms who’ve made the rules clear to their own daughters – like, leggings required beneath mini skirts and my favorite: No Bs allowed. That’s boobs, bellies or butts. “It’s definitely a family specific conversation,” says Polach, who walks that fine line of wanting to appeal to young girls, but still pass the mother test. “Set limits and hold the line,” she advises.

Need a mediator? Polach conducts fashion workshops for moms and daughters both in store and off site. Zelaz, 287 Water St., Excelsior, 952-920-1044,

Lifecycle of a Trend: Feather Extensions

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Trends come and trends go – usually on an accelerated pace at a magazine office. (Oh, the pressure.) We’ve come to expect globetrotting Sky style editor Liz Doyle will be first with the trend – and first to declare it O.V.E.R. Which is what she did today. So fly, fly away feather hair extensions. (Alert Steven Tyler!) It’s been a swell, silly, ride. A look at how it went down:

November, 2010: Liz sees the trend in Los Angeles
December, 2010: Liz orders feathers from
February, 2010: Back in L.A. for a photo shoot, she gets them done professionally
May, 2011: MplsSt.Paul Magazine does a story on feather extensions. Shortage of feathers at beauty stores and fly fishing shops (Not saying former caused latter, but feel free to draw your own conclusions)
June, 2011: A MplsSt.Paul senior editor’s 7-year-old gets feather extensions
Trend done, and fly fishermen are pissed
Of course, that’s now. Liz says she’s saving her feathers – “in case they are cool in a year or so.”

Uber Changes

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Uber Baby has closed its boutique at Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. But Uber Outlet will reopen this Thursday with baby, toddler and kids apparel (up to size 10) plus shoes, diaper bags, baby accessories and gifts – all up to 80 percent off retail. Starting this week, the outlet will resume regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Owners Lynne and Dan Gonsior plan to return to their roots, focusing on baby and children’s merchandise at the outlet. (You might see some maternity apparel down the road.) Meanwhile, Lynne is already working on the next chapter: Uber Baby Lifestyles, a full line of baby apparel and accessories launching Spring 2012.
Uber Outlet, 6015 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-869-0930

Patina Re-Opening Plans

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

A re-opening is finally within sight for Patina, which lost its south Minneapolis store to a devastating fire more than a year ago. Though it looks like little more than the foundation has been laid at 50th & Bryant, co-owner Christine Ward is targeting an August opening. Unfortunately, Patina’s Shoppe Local will not return as a separate store, but you will find many of the Minnesota brands within the main store, along with tons of new product and a re-imagined layout. If there’s a retailer capable of a smart refresh, it’s Patina.

Totally Helpless at Totally Kids

Monday, June 13th, 2011

I heard the pitter-patter of little feet in the hallway at 9 p.m. and knew that life was about to change.

“I’m out,” my three year old announced triumphantly.

I had planned to keep him in his crib through high school. Instead, he’s taunting me with his liberation – flipping himself in and out of bed, encouraging me to raise the side, only to watch him hurdle over it at his leisure. “You’re going to break a bone!” I hear myself shrieking – a prospect that should be scarier than realizing I have become my mother, except the kid has already broken his arm three times. And that was before he ever broke out of the crib.

So we’re bed shopping. I’m not a fan of toddler beds – hate the idea of spending money on something I know I’m going to have to replace by kindergarten. I’ve been casing the Room & Board Outlet every weekend this past month to no avail. I should have known when I got my older son’s bed for half price that I wouldn’t get that lucky twice.

Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod are a bit too traditional for my taste – and expensive. HOM, while more budget-friendly, just didn’t speak to me. The time had come to explore Totally Kids – the “fun furniture and toy store” just south of I-494 on Portland Avenue. My mistake: Bringing my kids. Now they know that beds more fun than cartoons are available for purchase. Now they know that I’m the mean mother who won’t buy a bunk bed. I’m not talking about the classic one-twin-stacked-on-another bunks of my youth, rather, virtual amusement parks with slides and fire houses and a tree house theme. As if it isn’t difficult enough to get kids to sleep?

Just when you think you’ve seen the last bunk, there’s more. Totally Kids just keeps going. The company is local and family owned, but because most of its business is online, the store is set up like a warehouse with an enormous amount of inventory (including some sale items). Besides beds, there’s a front room full of toys (upscale brands like Melissa & Doug), other kid furnishings. In back, you’ll also find retro dining tables.

But bunk beds are the centerpiece. Because I am the Mean Mom Who Won’t Buy Her Kid A Bunk Bed, I had to ask a sales associate: Really?  There’s really this much interest in bunk beds?

And then some, apparently. Interest spans from little monkeys like mine to college students, who like a lofted bed to create space for a desk or lounge area below. And as the downsizing of America continues, more kids are sharing bedrooms, making bunk beds the practical option. Not that there’s much practical about the “Frankie’s Fun Fort” model with curtains, flags and, of course, a slide.

Four hours later, I finally pulled my boys to the door. We still don’t have a bed. My toddler is probably swinging from the crib as I type. At least I have a new place to take my kids on rainy days. Perhaps I could even catch a brief nap (the Sleeping Beauty Twin Castle Loft Bed beckons) while they fantasize about nicer parents.
Totally Kids, 7876 Portland Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-881-2425

Hot at West End

Monday, June 13th, 2011

It’s a mystery why the Shops at West End is still struggling to fill its St. Louis Park lifestyle center when several of the businesses there are already expanding. The latest is Hot Mama, which plans to add space behind the current store. Founder/CEO Megan Tamte says she has been pleasantly surprised by the traffic at West End and the store needs more room to keep up.

Hot Mama joins Cooper, which is adding square footage to its dining room, Rojo, which took over its own pizza spot to add a party room, and Crave, which opened a second concept, Sopranos, at West End.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been an announcement of a retail opening to fill one of the many lingering vacancies since White House/Black Market, which opened in May.

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