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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for the ‘Shopping Tips’ Category

Get a Makeover Already. It’s On Sale.

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Resolutions are so much easier to keep when they’re on sale (and don’t require eliminating sugar from your diet). The renowned ReVamp! Makeover created by beauty magician, author and salon owner Christopher Hopkins, is  up to 20 percent off this month at ReVamp! Salon Spa in Uptown. (Regular prices start at $199.) The package includes silhouette analysis, color, cut, makeup application and lesson. And, with any makeover, you get a $20 gift card for Crave restaurants and a free V-silk Hydrating treatment valued at $29. Become a ReVamp club member to take advantage of other weekly deals. 2910 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., 612-341-0404

The Anti-Priscilla

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

If only a David’s Bridal exec had bothered to do a quick Google search for “dress donation-Minnesota,” perhaps the company would have thought twice about destroying wedding dresses at Priscilla of Boston. Last week, employees of the now-defunct division of David’s Bridal were videotaped spray painting red Xs on designer gowns before the 50th & France store went out of business.

Operation Glass Slipper, which provides prom wear at no charge to girls who could not afford it, is one of several organizations in town that gladly would have accepted the gowns. Especially this month. Next weekend is Operation Glass Slipper’s annual dress sale. Thousands of dresses and wedding gowns from the Twin Cities-based non-profit’s excess inventory will be sold for $20 to $50 each. Proceeds will be used to purchase shoes, accessories and makeup that will be made available in March at the main event for prom-goers. The group outfits more than a thousand girls for prom each year. And that doesn’t count the hundreds more who are able to buy a new or gently used special occasion dress at an incredibly reasonable price during the annual overstock sale.

“We welcome all donations of attire, money, and time, and we are grateful to our volunteers and supporters without whose generosity this project would not be possible,” Operation Glass Slipper Director Pam Philipp said in a statement Thursday.
The sale takes place Friday, Jan. 13 to Sunday, Jan. 15 at the Park Crossing Shopping Center, 2233 Energy Park Drive, St. Paul.

Friday Fun

Friday, January 6th, 2012
Uptown boutique Local Motion has found a way to lift the doldrums of January clearance shopping. Stop by every Friday this month from 4 to 6 p.m. for happy hour(s) and find secret sale items each week. Racks are packed with fall and winter markdowns, and spring fashion is already arriving.
And if it’s Friday, then you can shop for bargain fashion accessories at Fun Sisters in Minneapolis. That’s right, any Friday. One of the original “occasional” stores is changing its format and will now be open every weekend, Friday-Sunday. A storewide sale is on all month. Get 25 to 50 percent off everything.
Local Motion, 2813 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., 612-871-8436
Fun Sisters, 4253 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-9872

Bloomingdale’s Closing at MOA

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Bloomingdale’s is closing its Mall of America store. A spokesperson for the Macy’s Inc.-owned department store declined to provide more details until employees have been informed later today. Mall of America is planning a press conference of its own this afternoon to reveal “other news,” which we can hope is a replacement anchor. My money is on JC Penney, with its new focus on amping up the fashion. However, industry experts point out JC Penney’s largest stores are 100,000 square feet, and the Bloomies spot is a whopping 210,000. Perhaps it will be divided. There just aren’t many traditional anchors left to consider.

The news, while a blow to MOA and our MN fashion cred, should come as no surprise to anyone who has set foot in the MOA Bloomingdale’s–particularly, in comparison to Bloomies in other cities. They just didn’t get it. Bloomingdale’s never embraced the power, the appeal, the draw of MOA. They treated that store like a second class citizen–didn’t offer their best brands and made little effort to connect with customers, local or tourists. MOA, with its 40 million-plus annual visitors is the ultimate branding opportunity. Retailers from around the world are clawing to get in…just to be part of it. Bloomingdale’s snoozed through it. This is in sharp contrast to Nordstrom, which has always taken its MOA store seriously and in recent years has stepped up the designer fashion, recognizing the demand–and lack of other options–in town.

Place your bets now. MOA will make an announcement at 3:05 p.m.

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!

Black Friday Debrief

Friday, November 25th, 2011

I’ve been up all night and I have a DVD and two pairs of pajamas to show for it. I spent most of Black Friday eve and overnight broadcasting from MyTalk107.1 and the calls from shoppers never stopped–even at 3 a.m. Here’s what we know:

1. Yes, people will shop on Thanksgiving. Mall of America reports 15,000 shoppers showed up for its midnight opening. By 10 a.m., 81,000-that’s right–had walked through the doors, almost halfway to last year’s total of 200,000 Black Friday shoppers, a record MOA expects to break today. Target had 1,500 in line when the Bloomington, Minn. store opened at midnight. In California, a Target line topped 6,000. Retail analysts are already predicted midnight may be the new normal for Black Friday openings.

2. TVs are big. In size, and Black Friday popularity. The prices we’re seeing today are rock bottom, and experts don’t expect them to go much lower, even as the Super Bowl approaches. So if you can still find a deal on a LCD screen, take it.

3. Wal-Mart needs to regroup. Truly, the only negative shopping reports we heard from the front lines were from Wal-Mart. Shoppers did not have to wait outside, since the store was open all Thanksgiving, but that may have actually led to more problems. The “doorbuster” items, which went on sale at 10 p.m. and another round at midnight, were on shrink-wrapped palates in the aisles. So customers gathered around them, leading to pile ups, traffic jams and walking hazards in the crowd. We talked to many shoppers who left empty handed.

4. Speak up. Yes, it’s a crazy day, but that hasn’t stopped some super shoppers from asking for price matches, and often, they get them. My favorite pay off story came from a caller who was annoyed by a “Buy One Get One” offer. He expected if he bought one, he’d get one. Right? Turns out, it was buy one, get one 50 percent off. When he complained at Menards, they gave him the second item for free.

5. Black Friday this year is truly about hitting the stores. Retailers are saving their best online deals for Cyber Monday.

6. Shopping is the American way. Shopping for themselves, shopping with friends, shopping just to be part of event. We entered an alternative universe where people gladly spent the night out, in crowds, spending money, waiting in lines and not even complaining about it.

More Boutique Sales-Black Friday and Beyond

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

The sale announcements keep pouring in. We couldn’t fit them all on our Boutique Black Friday sale list, so here are even more deals from specialty retailers:

Sun & Ski Clothing Outfitters is hosting a Black Friday trunk show featuring Heidi Comfort Bags. (See one of the fab furry bags in the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine December gift guide!). 701 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-873-7282
Maha! is offering 50 percent off all activewear on Black Friday. 631 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-873-7001

Cooks of Crocus Hill will be 20 percent off storewide on Black Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 877 Grand Ave., St. Paul and 3925 W. 50th St., Edina, 952-285-1903
martinpatrick3 is keeping us warm with 20 percent off cold weather accessories on Friday, open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 212 Third Ave. N., Mpls., 612-746-5329
Melly is offering 25 percent off all sweaters–including cashmere–Friday and Saturday. Galleria, 952-929-9252

Grethen House is offering 30 percent off on Black Friday. Ann Lambrecht jewelry is 30 percent off all weekend long. 4930 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-926-8725

gh2 is offering 25 percent off on Black Friday and Saturday. 318 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-378-0509

Pumpz & Co. is having a stock up sale: buy one pair at 30 percent off and get 50 percent off the second pair. Select styles only. Friday-Sunday. Galleria, 952-926-2252
Brightwater Clothing & Gear is offering 25 percent off Patagonia ultra-light down shirts and jackets. Friday-Sunday. 256 Water Street, Excelsior, 952-474-0256

Corset is taking Black Friday off. The store will re-open for Small Business Saturday with 20 percent off all accessories and complimentary gift wrapping. 715 Mainstreet, Hopkins, 952-224-2495

Allee Metro Chic will give you a $25 gift card when you spend $100. Saturday only. Limit five per customer. 493 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-414-0274
C’est Chic Boutique is offering 20 percent off all capes and coats. Plus drawings and refreshments while you shop on Small Business Saturday. 200 Third Ave. N., Mpls., 612-339-1600

Black Friday Store Openings

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Midnight is the new 4 a.m. this year, but there’s plenty of shopping happening before midnight on Black Friday…and after. Here are some key openings to know as you plan your route. And yes, you should have a plan.
9 p.m.
  • Toys ‘R Us opens
  • First wave of openings at Albertville Premium Outlets
  • Best Buy starts screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in parking lots of select stores, including Eden Prairie, Maple Grove and Richfield stores
10 pm.
  • Wal-Mart starts its Black Friday deals
  • It’s the new 4 a.m.! Store openings including Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Herberger’s and more than 100 retailers at Mall of America. Click here to see the MOA deals.
4 a.m.
  • Southdale Center and Maplewood Mall open* (select stores opening earlier)
  • Sears opens
5 a.m.
  • Rosedale Center, Eden Prairie Center, Burnsville Center open*
6 a.m.
  • Ridgedale Center opens*
7 a.m.
  • Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Saks Off 5th, Woodbury Lakes open*
*select stores opening earlier | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved