Every year around this time, the inquiries start to come in: "Do you know when the Thymes Warehouse Sale is happening?" Indeed I do. Happy to be the first to announce the sale that shoppers anticipate as if it were Christmas (sort of is, with prices so low) is scheduled for October 8-10 at a new location: 1546 Fillmore St. NE, Minneapolis. Major discounts on lotion, washes, gift sets, home fragrance, candles, travel kits and much more from the Minneapolis-based bath and body company. Want a reminder the week of the sale? Sign up for the AliShops weekly update and you'll never miss a great sale, shopping event or store opening again!
Posted by Ali Kaplan on September 18, 2009 in Shopping Tips| Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
First to wish me a happy birthday: Anthropologie, with a card in a cute little fabric envelope covered with buttons good for 15 percent off my total store purchase any day this month. Aveda offered me a free product sample. DSW sent $5 off a purchase. Banana Republic did even better: $15 off any purchase this month. Even Macy's remembered my special day with a $10 Wow pass (exclusions apply - even on one's birthday). Still, not bad. It pays to sign up for mailing lists at stores you frequent - the birthday reward is an increasingly popular way to offer regulars an incentive without compromising the retailer's image. Now, if I just had some birthday money to spend...
Visiting Mall of America on Friday, July 17 could be quite rewarding - especially if you like rides. As part of "The Summer of SpongeBob" (he's 10), MOAand Nickelodeon Universe are celebrating a "Day of Happiness" - and what could be happier than free stuff, no strings attached? Nearly $75,000 worth of prizes will randomly be given away by staffers roaming the mall and theme park. Prizes include DVDs, Nickelodeon Universe unlimited ride wristbands, Nickelodon t-shirts and passes to Rick Bronson's House of Comedy. Um, don't mean to sound greedy, but could we throw a few pair of shoes or a designer bag in there? After all, SpongeBob is a spiffy dresser.
Posted by Ali Kaplan on July 15, 2009 in Shopping Tips| Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Of all shopping malls to make a big announcement while I was vacationing in the mountains, Southdale Center would not have been my first - or fifth - guess. How long can we reasonably continue to believe "redevelopment plans are in the works"? So I was indeed surprised and tickled to hear that H&M will open at Southdale this fall, with a two-level store nearly as large as the one at Mall of America. It won't make up for the gaping Mervyn's hole, but it could finally create some buzz for the way-past-its-prime mall.
Or will it? Hundreds showed up for the opening of H&M at Mall of America - but that was the first in town. When the second location opened in Woodbury, there was a much more modest turnout. We're H&M regulars now. While the news is sure to be exciting to Southdale regulars, it's unlikely to draw new shoppers the way it would were the store exclusive to the market. But, it could be enough to make other retailers take another look at the mall - which has a higher than average vacancy rate. I'll have more on that in my column this Sunday. Until then, weigh in. Does the arrival of H&M renew your faith in the nation's first covered shopping mall?
Every independent shopping district has tried a Girls' Night Out event, but Excelsior, MN has really figured out how to draw a crowd week after week and here's why. Tonight, I witnessed a Botox injection on Water Street. Right there, in the heart of boutique row, with a crowd looking on, sidewalk diners peering over their menus and cars zipping past a doctor from a local clinic pumped the stuff into the forehead of a relaxed looking blond. People clapped. And then it was on to the '80s Diva Costume Contest. It's action every minute on Girls' Night in Excelsior. Seriously, other retail areas could learn a lot from this small lakefront town, which has parlayed its summer Girls' Night Out program into a real draw for local businesses. Here are some takeaways:
Be organized. Have a committee, put together a calendar, build a website. Put fliers and posters in every store window.
Get all the retailers on board. Just like mall retailers must keep mall hours, businesses in downtown Excelsior are unified about staying open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays between May and August. Power in numbers.
Theme it. When each Girls' Night is it's own event, customers are inspired to return.
Offer a real deal. Twenty percent store discounts, free chair massages, buy one, get one - stores and restaurants do what they can to make shopping on Thursday nights feel special. (A list of promos can be picked up in every store, but I'd argue stores should make their specific deals even more prominent.)
Karaoke in the street. It draws attention, involves the public and it's funny.
Prizes. Real prizes. People love prizes. The winner of tonight's costume contest received $400 worth of products at a local skin clinic. That will inspire the ladies to not only show up, but do so in neon spandex and lace. Like, totally.
Moneysavingmom.com, Couponmoms.com, Thriftymama.com, Mamabargains.com, Rentalcarmomma.com (my personal fave). As I was compiling a list of online bargain resources favored by the St. Paul Pioneer Press Store Troopers I was struck by how many are run by moms or are mom-oriented. Yes, I know: moms make most of the household buying decisions. Moms are out there in the trenches at Target every day. But to surf the online bargain world, you'd think moms were the only ones clipping coupons. Of course that's not true - every year when searching for the best bargain hunters to join the newspaper's panel I meet teenagers, single men, retirees and childless career folks who are passionate about pinching pennies. But there are always a lot of moms. At our recent tryouts, one of them summed it up for me in a way that made the dozens upon dozens of "mommy" coupon resources make sense: "I left my job to stay home with our kids," she said. "Saving my family money makes it possible for me to do this job."
Bring on the diaper discounts.
Covered, which brought contemporary fashion and designer denim to the University of Minnesota, has quietly closed its Dinkytown boutique. Owner Stacy Larson plans to focus on the larger location she opened in Uptown. It's incredibly difficult for a local retailer to maintain two stores - especially in this economy. "Dinkytown is a great neighborhood that helped Covered establish a terrific relationship with a young, fashionable clientele," Larson said in a statement. "We are bringing our A-game to the Uptown store and have some really exciting developments in the works. Stay tuned!"
Thanks to everyone who came out to Mall of America Saturday for the Store Trooper Finals - especially the 28 amazing shoppers themselves. Narrowing the field to 16 is proving as excruciating as, well, paying full price. You can help by casting a vote here. Don't delay - the next panel of Store Troopers, who will spend the year testing products, services and offering their bargain hunting tips, will be revealed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, June 7.
Retailers are really listening. I complained on the radio recently that it was disappointing to stroll through Excelsior & Grand on my way to dinner and find the stores closed at 6 p.m. So silly not to capitalize on the restaurant/park/Starbucks traffic, especially now that it's nice and everyone is desperate to be outside. What do you know: I just received word that the boutiques at Excelsior & Grand will stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays this summer, starting June 4. Be sure to shop so they keep this up!
At an event for local retailers this week, Bay Street Shoes president Darrel Besikof expressed dismay at the way customers today will brazenly pick up a full price item and shout out an offer. He gets offended. Frustrated. Even hurt. But sometimes, if the offer is reasonable, he’ll take it.
In this economy, Besikof says he either had to power up, or get out. He is building a brand new store at Calhoun Square, twice the size of the old one. It is expected to open in the fall.