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Archive for January, 2012

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Wooed by Wu

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Trench coat, $54.99, by Jason Wu for Target

Step aside–the black trench is mine. Jason Wu’s capsule women’s collection is scheduled to debut at Target stores and on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5. It’s the perfect follow-up to Target’s web-crashing Missoni frenzy: Tons of positive buzz, but more manageable scope. (Pleated skirts and tie-waist shirts alone, no matter how pretty and affordable, are probably not enough to bring down At 53 pieces of women’s apparel and accessories, Wu’s Target collection is considerably smaller than Missoni for Target, which included everything from tumblers to journals.

And yet, on the heels of Target’s smash success with Missoni, which blew out of stores in hours, there is heightened anticipation for Wu. Now we know: snooze, and lose out on designer fashion–this time, for $60 or less. Wu is a hot, young designer who skyrocketed to fame when First Lady Michelle Obama wore his dress to an inaugural ball in 2009.  Last week’s New York launch party for Wu drew plenty of star power, including actresses Blake Lively, Emmy Rossum and Jaime King (all dressed in Wu for Target, of course).

It’s worth noting that Missoni hit Target on a Tuesday, as opposed to the more typical Sunday launch cycle, like for Wu. I pressed Target’s publicists to find out if pieces might trickle in early…particularly at a store like downtown Minneapolis to capitalize on weekday traffic…but the answer was a firm “it doesn’t arrive in stores until Sunday.”

Fine by me–I’ll take chips and dip for the big game to go with my new coat.

Galleria Nabs a New Salon

Friday, January 27th, 2012

The Galleria has signed a deal with a local salon to replace Rocco Altobelli. Lili Salon Spa will offer cuts, color, nail and waxing services and skin care. It’s a niche the Edina center could not go without, especially for guests at the adjacent Westin Hotel.

Lili will open in late spring in a 5,000 square foot space. That’s smaller than the Rocco salon, which Galleria vice president and general manager Jill Noack says has not yet been leased. The Rocco nail salon on the lower level is also up for grabs. (Meanwhile, Rocco is opening a new salon/spa a block away.)

Galleria will be the third location for William & Friends, whose salons include Lili Salon Spa/Minnetonka and Tonic Barbers, opening soon in Minnetonka.

The announcement comes amid a flurry of changes at the usually stable center. Schmitt Music, Que Sera and Pea in the Pod are leaving, while Ohio-based furniture chain Arhaus and national shoe retailer Marmi are coming in. Several current retailers are moving within the mall.

“This is unusual,” Noack says. “We just had several things come to a head. So much planning always goes into this. I first talked to Marmi 10 years ago.”

Noack is known to be extremely choosy about Galleria’s tenants and has a long track record of making decisions that add to the center’s appeal.

Marmi, she says, hits a lower price point than designer shoe store Pumpz & Co., and complements the dugo and Chico’s customer. “You can never have enough women’s footwear, and we were light there.”

The Galleria was not light on furniture, with Gabberts, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn, but Noack believes the popular Arhaus rounds out the mix. No doubt, there’s also a defensive element to the move. “There’s the old adage, you either fight ‘em or join ‘em,” Noack says. “If they’re going to be in Edina on France Avenue, I’d rather have them all under my roof so the customer doesn’t need to go anywhere else.”

All the shuffling still leaves Galleria with a few holes to fill—notably, the large Smith & Hawken space in the center of the mall. Rest assured, Noack has candidates in mind, and in talks. More options for the 25 to 34-year-old customer who shops at BCBG is a priority for Noack.  “We don’t want her waiting until she’s her mother’s age to shop at Galleria.”

That’s JCP, Thank You

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Just when it seemed there wasn’t a new idea in retail, J.C. Penney laid out an ambitious plan to overhaul its stores and brand. Some highlights:

- Fewer sales, lower prices. J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson confirmed what we already know: Very little department store merchandise, like 2 percent, sells at full price. So rather than go through the motions of pricing it high only to put it on clearance, J.C. Penney will price most merchandise 30 percent lower to start, with month promotions on select goods.

- Shops within the store. You know it: J.C. Penney is blah. Following its success with Sephora shops within JC Penney, the entire floor will be gradually reconfigured into mini shops.

- Monthly themes more in line with our lives rather than the retail calendar. So January might be about “renewal,” as WWD reported, with special merchandise to support the theme. (Can’t wait to see if they can really resist breaking out the Christmas decor the day after Halloween).

- Ellen DeGeneres as the new spokeswoman in ads.

- New brands, like Nanette Lepore creating a juniors dress and sportswear line called  l’amour nanette lepore.

- Every brand makeover requires a P. Diddy move: J.C. Penney wants be known as JCP. The initials were revealed today on new red, white and blue logos.

It would be nice to think the stores can really evolve as dramatically as Johnson, a retail visionary credited with major change at Target and Apple,  as dramatically as described. At the very least, J.C. Penney-er, JCP-has retailers talking about (and no doubt defending) promotional pricing and in a meaningful way.

This is going to be fun to watch.

MN p.s.: J.C. Penney was my first guess at a replacement for Bloomingdale’s at MOA. Industry response to that theory was tepid…but with today’s news, I can’t help but think what a perfect place MOA would be to unveil a completely reinvented JCP. Say 90,000 square feet or so?

Maplewood Mall Departures

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Gap closed its Maplewood Mall store yesterday, and there will be more exits before the end of January: Old Navy, New York & Company and Suncoast Motion Pictures are all checking out of the east metro shopping center within the week. This comes on the heels of recent renovations to the east metro mall by Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall owner, which also owns Southdale Center in the Twin Cities.

RIP, Charla Krupp

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Charla Krupp–magazine editor, best selling author and champion of women making the most of their assets (and least of their flaws)–was the very first subject of the “Shopping with…” column I wrote for seven years in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. At the time, she was editing the smart, but short-lived ShopETC. magazine and was in Minneapolis for an appearance at Marshall Field’s. I picked her up at the downtown store and set out to show her that Minneapolis had some decent shopping. She was a terrific sport: poking around Bibelot in Northeast, sipping tea at Intelligent Nutrients, suffering through rush hour traffic for a look at the Galleria, where she bought herself a sexy pair of Michael Kors heels at Pumpz & Co. and a tie for her husband at then-hot Kuhlman.

It didn’t matter that she was a big time New York fashion editor and I was a Midwestern newspaper reporter barely fitting into my lame outfit, having given birth just a few months before. We were just a couple of girls who delighted in shopping.

We stayed in touch, and based on the articles and comments surfacing in the hours since her untimely death today at age 58 from breast cancer, so did many people lucky enough to cross paths with Charla. She may have moved in a rarified world, but her advice was always down to earth, timeless and a confidence boost to everyone–no matter age, or size. You’ve got to love someone with the common sense to tell women not to wear ruffled skirts. Ever. Even when they are on-trend. “Ruffles on the behind don’t flatter anyone!” she said. I hear that every time I step into a fitting room.

The last time I saw Charla was after a Mall of America appearance to promote her second best seller, “How Never to Look Fat Again.” We enjoyed a spirited dinner with friends. She excitedly jumped topics, from the latest diet to her encounters with Oprah to magazines and hair color. We parted with her encouraging me to write a book, and the moment she returned to New York, she actually sent me her agent’s name and number.

Charla was a good one. She will be missed.

Jonathan Adler Flirting with Uptown

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Jonathan Adler is currently hiring an assistant manager and sales associates for a Minneapolis store listed on the company website as “coming soon.” Two local retail authorities have told me that Jonathan Adler plans to open a store in Uptown, near Lake and Hennepin. A company spokeswoman said this week that discussing it would be premature since the deal is not finalized. But the job listing does suggest negotiations are headed in the right direction.

Jonathan Adler is a home design company known for colorful, modern home furnishings and accessories. A company store would be a coup for Minneapolis, and in particular for Uptown, which is trying to position itself as a destination for contemporary design.

Ann Taylor’s New Look

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Ann Taylor revamped its collection in 2009–showing the career girl how to step out of her suits–and now its time for store updates to match. Mall of America will get a new Ann Taylor concept store this year, scheduled to open in May. Think white washed maple hardwood floors, crystal chandeliers and modern furniture. A more residential look and feel will give Ann Taylor places for new product, like fashion books, framed images and jewelry vitrines (that means cases).

New “styling rooms” will feature floral wall coverings, luxe ottomans, plush carpeting and a new proprietary lighting system with back lit mirrors that are supposed to be extra flattering. A private lounge area near the fitting–oops, styling–rooms will feature a large touch screen monitor with direct access to (The website carries additional professional styles, more shoes, petites and tall sizes and the weddings and events collection).

Service is getting an overhaul, too. Store “stylists” will be available for appointments.

Ann Taylor has been rolling out its updated stores since fall 2010. New concept stores have already opened in major cities including New York, Boston, Miami and Seattle.

Abercrombie & Fitch Closings

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Funny how retailers don’t issue press releases for store closings like they do for openings.

There are no “store closing” signs at Abercrombie & Fitch, and the current storewide sale is not being labeled a liquidation. But any young, flannel-clad employee will tell you that the Abercrombie & Fitch stores at Southdale Center and the adult and children’s stores at Ridgedale Center are closing, and soon–last day: Saturday, Jan. 28.

(Update: Despite earlier reports, and confirmation by a store employee, an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman told the Star Tribune that the Arbor Lakes store will remain open.)

Southdale Center confirmed the departure, and alluded to plans for a “very pleasing” replacement that they are not yet ready to announce. (Abercrombie kids closed at Southdale last year).

It’s been widely reported for more than a year that Abercrombie & Fitch, which has struggled recently against lower priced rivals, planned to close more than 100 stores nationwide–many, as leases expired. Abercrombie & Fitch also operates stores at Mall of America and Rosedale Center, and has Hollister and Gilly Hicks stores in town.

Making a Statement in the North Loop

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

I’ve been a fan of jewelry designer Stacey Johnson since I first stepped into her charming, closet-sized store around the corner from Patina in South Minneapolis. Her designs are modern and understated–perfect for a touch of everyday pretty at an extremely reasonable price. The first pair of dangling gold hoops I bought from her remain in regular rotation. Johnson’s store burned down with Patina in 2010, and since then she’s popped up–not often enough–at shopping events or for trunk shows. You can find her jewelry at Bibelot and her husband’s downtown Minneapolis boutique Bahu (popular with travelers staying at the Hilton, but under-shopped by locals).

Johnson is about to raise her profile. She plans to open a boutique next door to martinpatrick3 in the North Loop. Great news for her fans, and for the budding North Loop shopping district, which will also welcome new fashion boutique Arrow next month. In addition to her own designs, Johnson will broaden the mix to include jewelry, handbags, accessories, gifts and clothing from other designers. “We plan to have a nice focus on local designers and companies while offering the best and unique brands from around the world,”said Johnson, who is on her way to New York for a buying trip.

The store will be called Statement. An April opening is planned.

Destination Maternity: Arriving @MOA

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

A Pea in the Pod, Spring 2012

Motherhood Maternity, Spring 2012

Destination Maternity will open its first Twin Cities store at Mall of America on Thursday, Jan. 19. This superstore for mamas-to-be brings dominant maternity brands A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity under one roof. Find both price-conscious and designer maternity fashion, plus accessories and gifts. Bring the family, and plan to stay a while: the store features a juice bar, a soft-sided toddler play area, and two  flat-screen TV viewing areas–one for kids, and one for dads.

On Thursday, the first 50 moms-to-be will receive a free gift card loaded with a mystery value from $10 to $250. The first 50 shoppers to spend $125 will receive a gift bag. And get a free Carter’s bodysuit with purchase, while supplies last.

Destination Maternity, second level, south side (near Macy’s)

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