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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for the ‘Gifts & Cool Stuff’ Category

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Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
A masked mannequin named Bruce greets shoppers outside the new Honeyshine in Bryn Mawr, setting the tone for a truly unique retail experience. Located in the old Bryn Mawr Garage, the fantastically merchandised store is filled with interesting and unexpected home accessories and gifts, modern and vintage. From glass vases on tree-trunk end tables to delicate necklaces dangling around the necks of stuffed birds, owners Adam Braun and Daisy Mitchell prove that you can have good taste and a sense of humor. Love the look as much as we do? Ask about design services. 414 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-377-7300

Finding More Joy

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Christie Larson has found joy again. The glass mosaic artist, who opened Finding Joy in Excelsior just this past January, is opening a second Finding Joy today in Chanhassen. The new store, in Market Square Shopping Center (near Cub Foods), will feature the works of more than 60 local artists–most of whom live within 20 miles of the store. Find jewelry, pottery, glass, woodworking, baby gifts and more, priced from $2 to $300. Larson plans to host classes, art demos and kid craft activities at the store. “There’s so much joy to be found in art,” says Larson, “And even more if you know that the artists are, in essence, your neighbors.” Grand opening festivities today, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. will include refreshments, drawings, artist visits and children’s activities. 7838 Market Blvd., Chanhassen, 612-250-7286

The Bee Cottage

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

On a rainy day in downtown Excelsior, shoppers showed up for the opening of The Bee Cottage, a new occasional store in a quaint old home just off Water Street. It was easy to see why: owner Jennifer Finlay and partner Nancy Koch clearly have keen eyes for pretty objects of desire, old and new, and an ability to display them artfully, which adds to the appeal. Finlay also owns Jennifleur soy candles in repurposed wine bottles. Koch was a buyer for Dayton’s Paris Flea Market. The two met selling their goods at Guild in St. Louis Park. They’ve brought together some of the vendors who used to sell in this Excelsior space and found several new artists and unexpected lines to round out the mix of accessories, home decor and furniture with a vintage, romantic charm. Blink, and you’ll miss it: the store will be open the second Wednesday-Saturday of every month (additional dates between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and every month, Finlay and Koch plan to reinvent the two-level store with a new batch of lovely goods. 421 Second St., Excelsior

Walker Shop Thursday Specials

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Target Free Thursday Nights at the Walker Art Center now includes a deal at the Walker Shop, too. Starting tomorrow, the museum store will discount a select item every Thursday night. For October, it’s rice paper masking tape by mt. Use it to artfully seal a note, decorate a gift, or in my case, make up for a bad wrap job. Available in patterns and solids, the tape sells for $4.50 roll. Get two for one on Thursday nights this month.

New Digs

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Northfield, Minn. is known for its eclectic local boutiques – well worth a drive, especially on a crisp autumn day. Still, can’t help but be a little bit excited that one of Northfield’s finest, Digs, has new digs in Minneapolis. Linda Schneewind decided to move up to the city, and relocated her crafty shop at the corner of 38th and Grand in South Minneapolis (across the street from Sugar Sugar, as if you need an extra excuse to visit the retro sweet candy store).

Digs is a DIYers delight, filled with a huge assortment of fabrics and fibers. The front of the shop features finished products – jewelry, stuffed animals, t-shirts and more from independent artists–many local. Virtually every item here has an interesting story–just ask! 3800 Grand Ave. S., Mpls.

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.

Now Open: Paper Hat

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

South Minneapolis loves its local shops, so here’s hoping Paper Hat can pick up where Inizio left off at 50th & Penn. Greta Norlander’s sunny boutique is filled with artisan made gifts: jewelry, scarves, retro aprons, bath and body. I liked finding things I haven’t seen everywhere, like belts made of men’s ties sewn together.

Sprinkled among the useful items are decorative pieces – paintings, prints and pottery – that make for budget-conscious opportunities to dip a toe into art collecting.

Even if you have a favorite gift store, this one is worth a look. Don’t let the busy intersection stop you – it’s fine to park in the Broder’s lot.

2309 W. 50th St., Minneapolis

Because Everyone Needs an Umbrella

Friday, June 10th, 2011

We should have forecasted this when shoppers flocked to FinnStyle this spring for our Swag Deal on Marimekko umbrellas. That was a just the beginning. The Minneapolis-based retailer has launched a separate website devoted to umbrellas. Nothing but umbrellas. Ella Umbrella features more than 100 styles-and growing. Shop by brand, style, color, collection or price. For a limited time, enjoy free shipping on all orders.

The idea for Ella came out of increasing umbrella sales and what FinnStyle perceived as a hole in the market. “There wasn’t a great source for someone looking to buy an umbrella online,” says marketing director Chad Trent. “There are many retailers that offer some umbrellas, but not a wide enough selection to suit everyone’s taste.”

Almost makes you wish for rain.

Grand Frames

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Little Bean Photography has opened Grand Frames next to its Excelsior Boulevard studio in St. Louis Park, offering custom framing services, as well as grab and go picture frames by Jonathan Adler, gifts including Alora Ambiance scent diffusers and stationery. Owner and photographer Elissa Kadue got frustrated not being able to find frames befitting her irresistible photos of babies and tots. She went out and found colorful acrylics, polka dots and stripes, painted frames and finishes ranging from shabby chic to modern. In all, there are hundreds of framing options. (Don’t feel like you have to have your picture taken first; Grand Frames is up for any job).

Once she opened the door to retail, it only made sense to add complimentary categories like note cards and candles. Baby gifts are on the way, along with more picture frames. Even with the inventory a bit light, I have high hopes for this smart little shop. One look at the photos on the walls proves that Kadue has a great eye. 4617 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-303-3411


Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Elmo and the gang have gone eco! Just spotted Sesame Street Envirosax reusable bags at Fleurish, which has a fantastic new storefront on Lake Street in Wayzata. The bags – lightweight, durable and compact – sell for $10 each and will be perfect for hauling my little monsters’ gear (they don’t go anywhere with out 10 books, stuffed animals, snacks and yo-yos).  You can also buy a set of them here for $39.95 – makes a darling gift.

Speaking of gifts, Fleurish has plenty of clever ideas for end-of-the-year teacher gifts, like chic reusable lunch bags, cute totes, polka dot water bottles, and many other smart ideas for $20 to $30. Fleurish, 701 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-476-2296

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