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Archive for December, 2011

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Belinda Jensen’s Cover Shoot

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Kare11 Chief meteorologist Belinda Jensen was one of the first “notables” I called for a quote on her favorite thing about a Minnesota winter when we were putting together our January cover story. She skis. She has a million coats. She stands out in the cold every night delivering the forecast with a smile. That quote turned into a cover photo of Belinda…and a fun photo shoot with her family. What with the forecast, we had to truck in our own snow. The January issue of Mpls.St.Paul magazine hits newsstands Dec. 29. Here’s a peek behind the scenes:

Stylist Elizabeth Doyle and I were feeling the metallics and fur trim for our cover photo. Bel…not so much. We assured her that this skea jacket from Hoigaard’s (also available at Sun & Ski Clothing Outfitters) was extremely flattering and totally chic. She’s a good sport.

White on white? Why the heck not! That’s makeup artist Rhonda Jackson touching up Belinda and family. (We had to keep stopping to pick fake snow out of Belinda’s hair…the photographer told her kids to throw it. Man, that stuff sticks.)

Yes, she does look familiar! That’s Katherine Gerdes, Minnesota’s first Project Runway contestant. She’s also featured in our Winter Hot List story, modeling snowboarding gear. That’s right, Gerdes has set aside her apparel design work to become a pastry chef and snowboard instructor. We were glad to bring her worlds back together.

Zelaz is Closing

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m hoping there won’t be as many store closings to report as this year draws to a close compared to the last couple years, but this one was long in coming: Zelaz, the teen/tween retailer has decided to call it quits in Excelsior.  Janet Polach, mother of a teen daughter, opened her store just before the market crashed in 2008. Her concept was a good one: clothes trendy enough to please young girls, but modest enough to win mom approval. She tried several locations, different types of merchandise and a whole lot of community outreach, but it just wasn’t enough. It’s hard enough to get women to small stores; mall-loving teens are an even tougher sell. And she just never had the money to fully see the vision through.

Polach issued this statement:

“It’s been a fascinating, challenging and rewarding ride these last three and a half years.  We love our Excelsior location, and while each month is a little better than the last, it’s not enough to meet the debt we acquired early on AND our ongoing monthly expenses.  A frustrating situation as nearly everyone who comes in the store raves about our unusual selection, quality and reasonable pricing.”

Think you could do it better? Polach is open to the idea of selling the trademarked Zelaz name and e-commerce site. Meanwhile, a closing sale is on now. Save 30 percent storewide. 287 Water St.,  Excelsior, 952-920-1044

Intoto Team Resurfaces in North Loop

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Signs point to a fashionable 2012: Two former employees of Intoto, the exclusive Uptown boutique that left a designer void when it closed last year, are opening a store in the North Loop. Arrow is expected to open by the end of January in the old martinpatrick3 space. Partners Sarah Dwyer and Michael Basham describe their concept as “similar to Intoto, but with more color and not quite as high end.” Arrow will stock some edgy lines not widely available in the Twin Cities, including Surface to Air (pictured) and Vanessa Bruno for women; Steven Alan and Rogan for men. Stay tuned for opening details. 121 N. First St., Mpls.

Get It There By Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

It’s not too late to order online with Christmas delivery. is a great resource for offers still on the table. Here are some of my favorites:

Apple: Place your order by Wednesday, Dec. 21 for Christmas Eve delivery

Neiman Marcus: To get free rush delivery on orders of any amount, use code NMQUICK and choose “promotional shipping” as your shipping method. This offer is valid until 11:59 am CST on Thursday, Dec. 22

The North Face: As long as you place your order of $100 or more by 11:59 pm today, Dec. 20 you’ll be upgraded to 2-Day Shipping for free

Nordstrom: Get free shipping and guaranteed Dec. 24 delivery on orders placed by 2 p.m. CST today, Dec. 20

CB2: Get free shipping with guaranteed holiday delivery on select gift and home items ordered by noon Wednesday, Dec. 21

American Eagle: Orders of $100 or more placed by 5 a.m. CST on Dec. 21 can be upgraded to 2nd Day Shipping for only $5

L.L. Bean: Free shipping and guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery on all orders placed by 11 a.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 21

Zappos: This is unbelievable–Free shipping with guaranteed holiday delivery on all orders placed as late at 3 p.m. CST Friday, Dec. 23! (And they’ve got a whoooole lot more than shoes.)

Keep in mind, many more retailers will be glad to get your presents delivered on time…it just will cost you extra. A couple other ways you can still use online shopping to your advantage at this late date:

- Order online for in-store pick up. Available at many major retailers, including Best Buy and REI At least you’ll avoid the store lines.

- Gift cards. An electronic version can arrive in their inbox on Dec. 25 no matter how late you order.

- Magazine subscriptions. The notice can be sent immediately, and it looks like you put some thought into it.

Last Minute Shopping Advice

Friday, December 16th, 2011
Oh, really? You’re going to the mall today? You and the rest of America. The Saturday before Christmas is, historically, even crazier day than Black Friday. This year is a little different, since Christmas Eve is also a Saturday. Malls will be open until 5 or 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, but crowds are sure to thin out by afternoon. Which brings us back to this weekend, when everyone will be shopping. The National Retail Federation reported this week that the average person has completed less than half her shopping.
In lieu of a personal elf, here’s some advice:
  • Go early, stay late. Most malls are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. this week (Rosedale will be open until 11 p.m. on Friday) and 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The Rosedale Macy’s will be open for 83 hours straight starting Wednesday at 7 a.m. Weeknights, even this week before Christmas, will be a lot more manageable than Saturday at the mall.
  • Make a list, and check it online. Do your price comparisons and check inventory in advance to cut down on in-store hassles.
  • Get crafty. On Saturday, Dec. 17, Calhoun Square will host 20 artists selling everything from jewelry to pottery. On Monday, Dec. 19, there’s a craft market happening at Modern Times Café. More event details here.
  • Get out of the mall. Victory in Linden Hills is all decked out for the holidays, and even if you don’t find the right gift, you’ll leave inspired rather than stressed. The Bee Cottage in Excelsior is nice for festive candles (and Santa matchboxes) and vintage Christmas décor. General Store of Minnetonka is a tried and true stop for everything from toys to gourmet gift baskets, and there’s a café.
  • Think beauty. Pampering is always appreciated, and spas have some great deals going: Get a $25 gift card when you buy one worth $150 at Spalon Montage. Get a spa gift set when you purchase a gift card for $50 or more at Rocco Altobelli. At Sanctuary SalonSpa, get the gift card purchase out of the way so you can take advantage of specials this week only, like a 50 minute massage for $50 or 10 percent off hair extensions.
  • Get it wrapped. StyledLife has its top eight gifts wrapped and ready to go. russell + hazel has all sorts of gift combos at the ready, and will also create one just for you.
  • Stock up on memorable hostess gifts. The hot chocolate and gourmet marshmallows at Williams-Sonoma are one of my favorites. Crate & Barrel is a great place for lasting gifts: mugs, candles, frames—and many are on sale. Make a CD mix—it gets the party started, and shows you put some thought into it.
  • Distract the kids! They’re on break; you need to shop. St. Louis Park toy/art store Kiddywampus is offering in-store classes and art projects all week.
  • Place online orders by the beginning of the week. Some sites will guarantee Christmas Eve delivery through Dec. 19 or 20. After that, it’s going to cost you extra.
  • Take note of what you want for yourself. Because what you don’t receive will probably be on sale next week.

Free Shipping Day

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Look, I love to be in the stores at Christmastime–the hustle, the bustle, the gift wrap and free-flowing cider. It’s lovely to stroll a city street, or even a mall, and peer in the shop windows full of possibilities.

Except when it isn’t. I’ve been out and about almost every day, but honestly, I’ve accomplished much of my gift buying from home, late at night, online. I’ve taken advantage of online-exclusive offers to get deals better than I could have in-store, and I haven’t paid for shipping.

Neither should you: Friday is Free Shipping Day, one of the many created-for-commerce occasions that’s turned out to be pretty solid in just the past couple of years. More than 2,300 retailers have signed on, promising free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve. Participants include national chains–Best Buy, Nordstrom, J.Crew, Toys ‘R Us, but also a lot of smaller independents including many based in the Twin Cities, like Creative Kidstuff, Finn Style, Foat Design and Moss Envy. Start browsing–Free Shipping Day begins at 12 a.m. EST. The lights stay on at the online stores all night long, and there’s no dress code. Many retailers will offer special Free Shipping Day deals as well. Gotta love those made up holidays!

Happy Hats

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

It’s no surprise that Minnesota inspires well-designed winter accessories. Hats and scarves make great gifts–even better when they come from someone who knows what it’s like to get dressed on a miserable day in January.

All Knitwear is the perfect antidote to a gray season. Designer Annie Larson hand knits each and every one of her bright, bold, patterned hats. They capture the fondest of winter memories–flying down a hill on a toboggan, skating a pristine lake, building snowmen…and returning to a warm house where Mom has extra marshmallows for the hot cocoa. Larson is a University of Minnesota grad who worked for Target before starting her own brand, now based in Brooklyn. Her hats, $52, are sold at Askov Finlayson, 200 N. First St., Mpls., 612-206-3925

St. Paul resident Semera Faroog’s design credits include stints with BCBG and Free People. Starting her own sweater/knit collection led her to Peru where she works with local artisans who hand knit her luxe sweaters and scarves using Alpaca yarns that are dyed with eco friendly colorants. The brand is Made By, and each piece is actually stamped with the name of the artisan who made it. Find the chic hats, headbands and chunky sweaters, socks and scarves–starting at $70–at Allee Metro Chic, 493 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-414-0274

What Not to Wear at the Fair

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Like fried food on a stick, bad fashion is fundamental to the Minnesota State Fair. We laugh, because we live here. Brace yourselves: the fanny pack and socks-with-sandals offenders are about to give us a bad rep on national television. TLC’s What Not to Wear filmed at the fairgrounds just before the 2011 Fair opened. Co-hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly ambushed an unsuspecting fan in the Agriculture Horticulture Building (poor thing thought she was being interviewed about her love of the fair…she even wore a red “Minnesota State Fair Lover” t-shirt). See it play out—crop art, Giant Slide and all, tonight at 8 p.m. on TLC.

I Wish You Had a Wish List

Monday, December 12th, 2011

I like to think that it’s because I hold myself to a high standard of gift giving that I struggle. Will she love it? Does he already have one similar? Would she want gray or orange? And then, to ease the stress, I step back and think: Well, I know I love it. And I know I don’t have one, and I’d take the orange. And so I do.

Of course this just perpetuates the problem. No one knows what else to buy me because they believe I’ve been so consumed with shopping for myself, and, it can’t be denied, I still don’t have gifts for them.

There is a way to end this shopping drama: Wish Lists. That’s right. There’s nothing distasteful about telling someone what you want. Think of it as a gift, really, to help them gift you well. You’re happy, they’re happy, retailers are happy that we aren’t all returning things. Some boutiques are having a lot of fun with wish lists this season: martinpatrick3 in the North Loop will actually send a card on your behalf to Santa (or Mommy, or anyone with a zip code, really) telling them what you want. StyledLife at Galleria is making wish lists a two day party this week. It’s called Show the Love. From 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, the ladies are invited to shop and fill out a wish list, which StyledLife will present to the men the next evening, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, when they are invited to shop, drink, and watch a little Sports Center while their perfect gifts are being wrapped. Music, refreshments and more frivolity will ensue both nights.

Whatever boutique you’re shopping, just ask–they are glad to help your wishes get fulfilled. Because telepathy just isn’t all that reliable.

Win VIP MOA Parking + $25

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Some retail destinations promote their selection or sales this time of year. At Mall of America, all that’s a given. The issue is getting to it. Thus, the “12 Days of Parking” promotion. MOA is reserving 12 front row parking spots for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I’m giving them away today-Saturday, Dec. 10–on Shop Girls. A dozen listeners will be guaranteed VIP parking for next Saturday, Dec. 17. Each winner will also receive a $25 mall gift card. (And we all know you could spend that thing four or five times over in the minutes you’ll save searching for a parking spot.) Listen to win, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today on myTalk107.1.

P.S.: You’ll get another chance to win Tuesday in our shopping e-newsletter, Swag.

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