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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for September, 2011

MK in MN

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Michael Kors opened Friday at Mall of America, first level, outside Bloomingdale’s. The store is shiny and sleek, but smaller than I imagined and more like Coach than I expected. The focus is on bags – and there are lots worth coveting. Clothes were relegated to the back corner, and all from the more affordable Michael Michael Kors collection. Don’t get me wrong – those are the pieces I can afford and they look great, but I’d probably shop for them first at Macy’s, where they’re likely to be on sale. I was expected a broader brand experience from MK’s first Minnesota store. The only items from the high-end Collection are a few bags. Perhaps MK is just being practical. Clearly, the company has some faith in this market – a second Michael Kors store will open at Southdale in November.

Scenes from NorthernGRADE

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

All the cool kids (and men in dress shirts and slim shorts) came out for the second annual NorthernGRADE men’s market at Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis. A few of my favorite finds:

First look at the re-opened Faribault Woolen Mills – selling authentic army blankets. (Super soft and warm!)

Fall 2011 from Pierrepont Hicks, including the new silks (right), featuring the company crest.

Isn’t he a doll? That strapping former NFLer is Gibran Hamdan. He could be sportscasting or coaching, but he’s got a passion for fashion. So he put on a vest and brought his Alial Fital shirts to NorthernGRADE.

Charmed by this brand new Chicago-based company, Buckshot Sonny’s selling high-quality, retro sportsgear. The two mustachioed gentleman behind the brand made their worldwide debut at NorthernGrade, selling packs, trucker caps, t-shirts and gear for guys who may or may not hunt, fish and play ball – but who appreciate the old-school All-American vibe.

And then there was this guy – WCCO’s sharp shopper, Jason DeRusha, trying on Stormy Kromer caps. Perfect for those blustery Man on the Street interviews…

NorthernGRADE Men’s Market

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Having modern classic fashion brands like J.W. Hulme Co. and Pierrepont Hicks based in the Twin Cities makes us look good. The two teamed up again to produce the second annual NorthernGRADE men’s market today at Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis. If you wear bow ties, fitted plaid shirts, slim denim and Red Wing boots – generally all at once – or appreciate men in them, this shopping event is worth hitting. There will be live music, food and spirits, and of course, shopping. NorthernGRADE brings together iconic American-made brands new and old, including Red Wing Shoe Co., Duluth Pack, Stormy Kromer and Taylor Stitch. Go to support them. Go for the people watching. Go to get your man out of pleated khakis. And go to celebrate the cool, creative companies that make Minnesota their home – and the others from around the country that come to be associated with this movement.

NorthernGRADE, Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at Architectural Antiques, 1330 Quincy St. N.E., Mpls.

Details on the Thymes SALE

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I don’t need deals on glue sticks and notebooks to know September is coming. I can measure time by the sudden influx of inquiries on the incessantly popular Thymes Warehouse Sale. So here’s what you need to know: the 2011 Thymes Warehouse Sale will take place at 63 Saint Anthony Parkway, Mpls. Hours are: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 and Friday Oct. 7 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. Expect big deals on bath, body and home products from the Minneapolis-based brand. And pack a snack – last year’s check-out line took at hour at some points.

To plan your sale shopping all year, be sure to check out our calendar of the Best Annual Sales in Shops – yours with the September issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, now on newsstands!

Fashion’s Night Out

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Candy in my pockets; girlfriends at my side. What more could you ask for on Fashion’s Night Out? More retailers could take a cue from Kevin Quinn at StyledLife. He knows how to make a shopping party an actual party. All it takes is great music, bubbly, beauty makeovers, and a couple of drag queens greeting guests with York Peppermint Patties.

So often, stores judge the success of an event by the cash register. You can’t blame them – they are, after all, in business to make money. But Quinn has a knack for seeing the bigger picture. Make your store a fun place to be tonight, and shoppers will want to come back tomorrow. When they do, Quinn and his enthusiastic staff will be there with the must-have bag, a fabulous earring, and a scarf that completes any outfit.

StyledLife’s neighbors at the Galleria in Edina may not be quite as loud, but many partied in their own refined way tonight, with designer trunk shows and refreshments. As a result, Galleria was buzzing well past its usual bedtime.

Timberland at Calhoun Square

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Timberland is opening at Calhoun Square – the brand’s first stand-alone store in Minnesota. The 2,000-square-foot store on the first floor of the Uptown shopping center, overlooking Hennepin Avenue, will showcase much more than those sturdy yellow work boots. Expect the full Timberland brand experience, including footwear, clothing and outdoor accessories for men, women and children. Calhoun Square general manager Ken Seifert says the store will have a “unique design seen in few locations nationally.” Timberland’s projected opening is Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, massage and bodywork clinic Euphoric Ambiance is now open on the second floor of Calhoun square specializing in deep tissue massage and offering sound therapy and heated bamboo massage.

Get Out!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

I wish I could be six places at once tonight for Fashion’s Night Out. Twin Cities retailers, both local and national, are really in the spirit. Start at the Intelligent Nutrients’ Horst & Friends Salon, where blowouts and mini makeovers will be free from 4 to 8 p.m. Swing by Neiman Marcus to boogie down to DJ Strangelove and snack on cupcakes while you shop fall arrivals. Head over to June for the launch of new lipsticks from the Elixery and hair clips from Vintage City Classics, two Minnesota brands. Nordstrom at Mall of America is throwing a shopping party in honor of the occasion. And if you are west of the city, check out the flash mob fashion show on Water Street in Exclesior. I’ll be at the Galleria, where Mpls.St.Paul Magazine is kicking off Boutique and Beauty Week and many stores are celebrating FNO with trunk shows, free beauty treatments, refreshments, music and more. What a great excuse to be social and shop. And that’s exactly the purpose of FNO, which started three years ago in New York as a way to get reluctant shoppers back in the stores for something other than sales. Sure, it’s gotten huge and commercial and New Yorkers are already whining about traffic jams. Meanwhile, retailers large and small are coming up with ways to entertain, engage and energize fickle shoppers. It’s going to be a fun night. And sometimes, that’s enough. For the full list of Fashion’s Night Out events in the Twin Cities, click here. If you can’t make it to the stores, many retailers will have online promotions all evening, ranging from live-streamed fashion shows to music giveaways and deals.

Patina Goes Suburban!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Patina is taking over the former Hollywood Video space at Highway 55 and Winnetka Avenue in Golden Valley.

What a delightfully unexpected follow-up to Patina’s last expansion, at the up and coming, but still rough-around-the-edges corner of Selby & Snelling in St. Paul. Patina has five Twin Cities locations – all urban. And like the hipster couple that vows to stay in the city after having the first kid, only to head west once the second one comes along, having a parking lot out front is starting to sound appealing to Patina’s husband and wife owners Rick Haase and Christine Ward, who have friends that have migrated to Golden Valley.

“It feels right,” Ward says. Situated right off of Highway 55, visible to daily commuters, downtown Golden Valley is a convenient meeting spot between Plymouth and Minneapolis. The well-manicured retail area, with a fountain and outdoor seating, offers plenty of dining choices, including D’amico, Doolittles, Noodles & Co. and Starbucks, but zero shopping–unless you count the local hardware store. The real surprise is that it took this long for a gift shop to claim the corner.

Patina will open in Golden Valley in time for the holidays. But first, Haase and Ward are focused on re-opening the 50th & Bryant store that burned down last year. The target date for the South Minneapolis opening is Sept. 26.

Shopping Zara at Home

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

I sprinted through Zara at Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie, Ill. over the weekend – so close to an $89 buttery brown motorcycle jacket and $49 skinny green jeans, and yet, so swiftly interrupted by two little boys determined to get over to Marbles: The Brain Store.

No problem.  Tomorrow, I’ll be shopping Zara.com from the couch after the boys are in bed. The Spanish fast fashion chain is launching online shopping in the U.S. on Wednesday, Sept. 7–with free delivery to all 50 states. You won’t miss a thing: Zara’s full range of women’s, men’s and children’s clothing will be available online.

If you’ve never had the chance to shop one of Zara’s 30 U.S. stores–there are 4,000 stores worldwide–you’re sure to be delighted. It’s a step up from H&M, but with similar nimbleness to transform runway looks into affordable street wear. Zara is known for quickly responding to customer demand–if red dresses are flying out of the store, expect more styles in stores within days. Zara has taken its move to online seriously–the site promises a consumer friendly shopping experience with multiple ways to search for colors, sizes, prices and more. Online returns will be free within 30 days. Here’s a peek:


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