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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for the ‘Baby/Kids’ Category

Uber Baby Pop Up

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
As sure as end of the season clearance sales, Uber Baby will rise again. A few months after closing its Shops at West End boutique, the little retailer that could is back in business in downtown Minneapolis. The Uber Baby Lifestyles Pop Up Shop is now open in the skyway of 601 Marquette (the former office of Esbee Public Relations). Baby and children’s apparel, shoes, onesies, gifts and more are all 70 to 90 percent off retail prices. That includes designer brands sold at Uber Baby’s old West End store as well as private label merchandise. New merchandise arriving weekly. Open weekdays 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., through Dec. 21.

Harajuku Mini for Target

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Ok. My boys don’t know it yet, but they are totally going to rock skinny plaid pants and bow ties this holiday season. And if they protest, I’ll just say: Gwen Stefani! Automatic street cred. Stefani’s Harajuku Mini collection is scheduled to hit Target stores on Sunday, Nov. 13. the look book is seriously adorable–cute kid models notwithstanding. Think plaid jumpers, fuzzy hoodies and tuxedo-style onesies, faux-leather jackets and punker pants you just know Zuma has already claimed for his own. The collection includes apparel and accessories for babies, toddlers and tween girls. Prices range from $3.99 to $29.99. Unlike most of Target’s celebrity partnerships, this one is planned to be “ongoing.” A second installment of Harajuku Mini will arrive at Target stores right after Christmas.

You’ve Got Mail

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Kiddywampus celebrates creativity–in kids, and adults. Owner Amy Saldanha is a big proponent of local toy makers, designers and experts in the kid universe. As a result, her customers are the beneficiaries of that talent pool, and the test-lab atmosphere of the store. I recently signed up my 3-year-old to test a new line of art projects from Minnetonka-based Metamorphic Toys. He was given a sturdy cardboard mailbox and told to decorate it, which he did when we got home:

His masterpiece is now in his room, where he awaits daily deliveries. Never know what you might find in that mailbox: a plastic ice cream cone, socks, a small book. It even held up to a round of catch between said 3-year-old and his older brother. You could say he likes it. Apparently he wasn’t the only one: Kiddywampus is hosting an Arty Party from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 for the store launch of the Everythingland Mailbox and Silly Signs by Metamorphic Toys. Meet inventor Dave Berglund and register to win prizes. Space is limited, so rsvp at 952-926-7871. And sign up for the Kiddywampus mailing list to participate in future toy testings, art classes, parties and other fun events (there’s a toy room for playdates, too). 4400 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-926-7871

Pacifier’s Good Move

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Once you visit the new downtown Minneapolis Pacifier store, you won’t have to wonder why the baby boutique jumped across Nicollet Mall from the street level of Gaviidae Common to a skyway storefront in City Center, near Macy’s (one of the busiest downtown skyways). The place was absolutely hopping at lunch time, and you could tell many shoppers were discovering the 7-year-old local retailer for the first time. Husband and wife owners Jon Witthuhn and Quyen “Wing” Tran had the opportunity to build the new space exactly as they wanted, and their modern aesthetic shines through. Becoming parents in the last two years has only improved their assortment of well-designed baby gifts, gear and toys. (For more serious parent purchases, like strollers, bedding and children’s clothes up to size 12, visit their Northeast Minneapolis store at 310 E. Hennepin Ave.).

My latest favorite find at Pacifier: Chewbeads–non-toxic jewelry for moms, safe for babies to tug, touch and chew. Having lost no fewer than four necklaces to grabby little guys, this is genius:

Poppy Togs and Clogs

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Jill Henderson’s dream is one many a working mom can appreciate: To run her own business in order to have the flexibility to spend more time with her family. I’m always dubious when moms think opening a store is going to enhance their quality of life, but Henderson, who has years of retail/merchandising experience, seems to be setting boundaries right out of the gate. Poppy Togs and Clogs, in the former Peapods space at Snelling and St. Clair, is open just Thursday-Sunday. She tells other moms why, and hopes they’ll understand. Now she just needs to make those four days a week count.

Poppy is stocked with baby and toddler apparel as well as colorful clothes for moms from pattern-happy brands like Desigual. Find print cotton dresses, statement coats, jewelry and clogs in every color. Beyond gift-friendly baby goods like sock monkey pajamas and St. Paul shirts, Poppy targets practical moms with a rack of “recycled” kids clothes she’s collected (items are not being accepted for resale at this time). The store is a work in progress–something any mother can appreciate. 251 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul, 612-236-3660

Oh Baby! Outlet Closing

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Oh no! Oh Baby! Outlet in Wayzata is closing. Saturday, Aug. 27 will be the final day to shop discounted luxury goods for children.

It ends the local retailer’s 10-year presence at 743 E. Lake St. in Wayzata. Originally, the Wayzata store was a second full-price Oh Baby! boutique. But when the flagship store at Galleria nearly quadrupled its size a couple of years ago, they turned the Wayzata location into an outlet.

The concept – 50 to 75 percent of high end clothes and nursery furnishings – was a good one, but Oh Baby! Chief Financial Officer Tom Lauer says the location just didn’t get enough traffic or draw the Galleria shopper. So when the lease was up, they did not renew.

In all likelihood, we haven’t seen the last of the deals from Oh Baby! The company maintains a warehouse in Edina that could be opened for occasional sales. Stay tuned!

Baby! New stores at Woodbury Lakes

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Forget women’s fashion. Woodbury Lakes is finally targeting the eastern suburb’s more influential demographic: BABIES! A local baby boutique and a national baby retailer new to Minnesota will open at the lifestyle center in the coming weeks.

buybuyBaby, a competitor to Babies ‘r Us with perhaps a more stylish edge, is building a 28,000 store at Woodbury Lakes that will offer the full range of baby needs from car seats and strollers to cribs, toys and clothing. Check it out online. buybuyBaby was acquired by Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2007. The store will open this fall.

But first, butters & beans (pictured). the eco-friendly baby apparel brand designed by local mom Ann Evans, is opening its first boutique at Woodbury Lakes on July 21. Beyond its own line, the boutique will offer other local lines like Pop Frocks and national boutique brands including Tea Collection – plus accessories, bedding, toys, gifts and more. (Stop by 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, July 22 for the grand opening, including a performance by Tim Mahoney).

Of course, mom’s needs haven’t been entirely forgotten. Proven magnet Hot Mama is also opening next month at Woodbury Lakes.

There’s a reason for this sudden burst of focused momentum from the center that has struggled to draw tenants and shoppers: RED Development. The company that originally developed Woodbury Lakes – and the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove – is back at the helm and clearly making smart decisions about what will play well to east suburban residents. They already brought on Charming Charlie accessories super-store as well.

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, Zelaz.com

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

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



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