Posts Tagged ‘bluebird’
Continuing their bid for Total Domination of 50th & France, one of the partners behind Bluebird Boutique and Ladyslipper plans to open a store for men in half of the former Pull Out a Plum space at 4946 France Ave. S. in Edina. Sacha Martin tells me she and her boyfriend plan to open BLUEPEG in August.
Score one for Maple Grove. Edina's Bluebird Boutique will open a second location at the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes next Friday, Oct. 30. Same cool-girl fashions, plus trend-right accessories like Big Buddha bags. (Could we put in a request for maybe a tinch more customer service?) Watch AliShops for more details.
Recently I asked one of the owners of Bluebird Boutique how she felt about the arrival of Bumbershute, which could be perceived as competition for the designer dollar. "Great," she said, and I’m inclined to believe her logic – "now her Wayzata customers have reason to shop at 50th and France. The more the merrier." Indeed, power in numbers was on the mind of Bumbershute owner Kathryn Paulsrud when she made the big move. She figured 50th is more of a regional draw. And becoming more so every day. Nani Nalu made the move from Ridgedale Center to 50th. Priscilla of Boston, like Monique Lhuillier, picked it for its first Twin Cities store. And the latest announcement: St. Paul destination boutique Stephanie’s will open a second store at 50th in August – the same month the Bluebird girls will debut their accessories store, Ladyslipper Boutique. 50th has always been a distinguished address, but lately, there’s an undeniable energy as the shopping district proves itself to be the destination for boutique shopping in the Twin Cities with a well rounded mix of styles and price points (plus great places to eat and drink). If you want to impress your out-of-town fashionista friends, there’s no question where to take them.
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.
Lucky magazine finally figured out what we’ve known all along: the Twin Cities boasts an impressive bevy of independent boutiques. In the February issue, on newsstands Wednesday, Lucky features Minneapolis and St. Paul among "the best new cities to shop." They singled out 15 independent stores: some obvious, like Ivy, Stephanie’s, Bluebird Boutique and the Walker Shop; and a few intended to prove they really did their homework, like Salon Rouge for beauty products and Swank Interiors for vintage furnishings. (Get the full list in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.) There are some glaring omissions: StyledLife, Cherie, Corazon – but, then, there would be no way to adequately capture the entire scene on one page…that’s what AliShops.com is for.
Actually, Lucky indirectly contributed to the launch of AliShops.com. I used to provide local shopping news for the magazine’s website, until they decided a few years ago to cut Minneapolis. That’s right – they kept Denver, and axed the Twin Cities. I told them that was crazy – this is a creative, cosmopolitan city, filled with interesting, innovative retail concepts and fashionable residents. Seems they’re finally catching on. Better late than never.
Looking for inspiration, or at least some great people watching? Local fashion events abound in the next couple of weeks:
Sept. 19 to 23: it’s Fall Fashion Weekend brought to us by MNfashion.org, the group behind Voltage. The festivities will include trunk shows and runway shows by local designers, a tour of collections at the Minnesota Historical Society, parties, in-store events and networking opportunities for aspiring designers and stylists.
Sept. 27: Collage fashion show at the Nicollet Island Pavilion from Stephanie’s, Ivy, Ivy Men’s + Design and Bluebird Boutique. The looks are sure to be hot, and the crowd even hotter. (Last year, I remember thinking who are these good-looking, well-dressed people and where have they been hiding? Maybe I just need to go out more.) Success does have it price, and this year, the formerly free event is charging $25 for admission. That does include a complimentary champagne and dessert bar and an after party with DJ. Tickets can be purchased at www.collagefashionshow.com.