Posts Tagged ‘50th and France’
Can’t say it’s a surprise.
Clutch Boutique at 50th and France will close at the end of the month. The polished handbags that not enough women could justify at full price are now 30 percent off. Owner Lori Cheadle said she simply reached the breaking point. Holiday sales were underwhelming and the last four months have been slow, which she attributes, in part, to bad weather. But long before the holidays and the dreary spring, there was an obvious sign of trouble: no customers. Almost every time I passed the boutique, it was empty.
And that was not for lack of publicity. I wrote about Clutch several times because when it opened, it was the only boutique in town specializing in high-end handbags from little-known, up and coming lines. I’m always thrilled when an independent retailer raises the bar for Twin Cities shopping. Unfortunately, this one raised it a bit too high. I never made a purchase at Clutch. I can’t afford $500 or $600 for a bag.
And yet, a lot of shoppers apparently can. Survey after survey shows that women will invest hundreds in handbags – just look at the shelves at Nordstrom and Neimans and Coach, which seems like a veritable bargain, compared to the $2,000 designer bags celebs carry. Expensive bags do sell. So why didn’t they sell at Clutch?
Cheadle thought we were ready to go a step beyond Coach and Louis Vuitton – to spend on a bag that wasn’t covered in designer logos, that wasn’t the same bag everyone else was carrying. She underestimated the importance shoppers place on big name brands, but I think she also sold herself short by remaining so focused on really, really expensive bags instead of diversifying a bit. She’s got a great eye – I’ve got to think she could have found a couple of lines in the $100-$200 range, which would have inspired me to browse more often. But it’s more than that. Compare Clutch to StyledLife, which hits the same prices and sells some of the same brands. The store experience is night and day. Clutch looked lovely, but felt a bit empty and quiet. At StyledLife, happy music is always pumping (and for sale a the music bar). Owner Kevin Quinn and his employees are eager to assist. The store feels more three dimensional, with table after table of things to touch. So when a shopper realizes the bags are almost all beyond budget, she can console herself with a belt, a cuff bracelet, a scarf.
Finding that perfect balance to make merchandising magic is no easy feat. It’s sad to see Clutch go.
Of course, it’s always on to the next store. And at 50th, that will be Ladyslipper Boutique, opening Aug. 1 in the former Spirit Kids, 4940 France Ave. Owned by the stylish duo behind Bluebird Boutique, which successfully sells pricey bags and shoes, the new accessories shop will expand on their casual, contemporary look with Frye boots, Dolce Vita and Botkier bags, cool watches, jewelry and more. The owners, who just returned from a buying trip, plan to keep prices under $400.
Let’s hope they stick to that.
All I wanted was a couple of new shirts.
Getting dressed postpartum is oddly more challenging than maternity fashion – and that’s not even accounting for the spit up and milk leaks. While pregnant, I sought out shirts that were form fitting to show off my belly – better to let people know you’re knocked up, rather than knocking back too many pints of Chunky Monkey. But the clothes that worked at 9 mos. now feel too revealing. Nothing cute about the aftermath. Nothing cute about my 3-year-old pressing the jiggly remains at my midsection and asking "Mommy, is there another baby in there?"
And the boobs are a bigger issue (literally) than the tummy. Even some of my more forgiving shirts and sweaters won’t work because I’m taking up so much fabric up top.
So I decided to make the trek to Hot Mama. I wanted to check out those Yummie Tummie body shaping tanks I’ve heard so much about. I know women love them, but personally, I felt like the stretchy top (think Spanks in shirt form) simply emphasized my extra rolls. I did, however, find plenty of longer, loose (skim the body, loose – not potato sack loose) tops.
I actually had time to try a few on because 1. Hot Mama has toys to occupy my 3-year-old. 2. My parents came along to hold the newborn when he fussed.
It really does take a village to shop with children.
The baby was fine. My newly potty trained older one, however, suddenly needed to poop. I dropped the one Free People shirt that fit, left the stroller in the aisle, the baby with the grandparents and dashed across the hall to the restroom (A good mother always identifies the nearest potty when out in public with a toddler.)
Returned to the counter to pay when the urge hit him again. This time, I could tell by his red face, and the fact that he asked if I had brought him other pants, we were in trouble. So much for those cute Elmo underpants.
We regrouped, cleaned up, packed everyone up and about three hours later, we were ready to go home.
At least I did get my shirt. And a silver bangle.
Last week, I promised the scoop on Baby Grand’s new store on Mainstreet in Hopkins and I have not forgotten…it’s just taking a bit longer to open than owners had hoped. The new target is this weekend. But call first. Meanwhile, swimwear shop Nani Nalu is frantically preparing for its move from Ridgedale Center to 50th and France on Feb. 1. The new shop promises an expanded selection and a few surprises – check back next week for that story. Then on Feb. 5, the folks behind Expecting Uber Baby will open their Uber Outlet (I’m getting a sneak peek this week, so I’ll let you know what to…expect.) And in March, Uber Baby will open at the Galleria with a new focus on children’s shoes. Then in April, Hot Mama heads west for its latest addition: a Wayzata store.
And we haven’t even hit spring! Lots more shopping news to come – and this is the place to find it first. Wondering about a specific store opening or what will become of a vacant store front in the Twin Cities? Let me know and I’ll try to get you the details.
Cos Bar is set to open Friday (Sept. 7) at 50th & France. Last week, I found myself shopping the one in Vail, Colorado (my husband wondered if that meant we could write off our family vacation). The mini-chain, which got its start in Colorado resort towns Vail and Aspen, is supposed to be a sort of luxury Sephora where sales associates don’t work for any one brand, so you can feel more confident they will show you the product that works best for you. I like the idea, but I wasn’t especially impressed by the Vail Cos Bar. It felt cramped and not as posh as I would have expected. Oh sure, the brands were high-end – Laura Mercier, La Mer, and so on – but nothing you couldn’t find elsewhere in town. Frankly, I think Cherie Boutique Francais in Wayzata delivers a much more authentic luxury beauty shopping experience. But, I say this without having seen the Edina Cos Bar. I’ll be there tomorrow – whether my husband likes it or not. Love to hear your impressions.
The Twin Cities’ first Sur La Table store opens Friday, June 29 at 50th and France (kiddy corner from Anthropologie) at 5000 France Ave. Known to local foodies through its catalog and website, Sur La Table is a chef’s paradise, offering better cookware, bakeware, barware, small electrics, gadgets, table decor, hard-to-find tools, books and items I can’t pronounce and have not a clue how to use, like Portuguese cataplanas. It’s probably a good thing that locally owned Cooks of Crocus Hill just down the block has its well established roster of cooking lessons to keep the place jumping. With so many quality culinary options in town, where will you shop? Let me know.