Posts Tagged ‘grand avenue’
What is it about the urban Grand Avenue in St. Paul that makes retailers think hiking, skiing, outdoorsy apparel? I'm still campaigning for Anthropologie in that sorry space between Pottery Barn and J. Crew. But this week, I'll settle for North Face, which opens Friday, April 24 at 799 Grand (where Smith & Hawken used to be) – effectively bookending the avenue with Patagonia at 1648 Grand. No buzz about it, but then, there's already a North Face in Uptown. The company stores feature more than outerwear – clothing for men and women, shoes and bags.
Just getting set to write a little guide for Spaces magazine about the ever-improving shopping at Selby and Snelling in St. Paul when I received word that Flirt lingerie boutique is leaving Grand Avenue to take a spot next to Patina at 177 Snelling Ave N. Owner Jessica Gerard says the new space will be more intimate and charming, with a fire place to boot. She's also bringing in new lines including Blush, In Boom and Nataya. The move will happen in June. But first, a moving sale at Flirt on Grand starts May 1 with 40 percent off much merchandise. AliShops.com will have all the details in Sales/Specials.
More moving news expected from Drama very soon. Stay tuned!
When I joined the St. Paul Pioneer Press back in – eek – 2000, covering fashion in St. Paul was no easy feat. I remember attending the annual Taste of Grand fashion show and hearing my mom’s old line playing in my head: "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all." Back then, there wasn’t much "fashion" happening on Grand Avenue - certainly nothing anyone younger than, say, 80, would have been interested in.
My, how times have changed. Thursday’s show at Macalester’s Kagin Ballroom (what a cool space) was thoroughly modern, from the DJ spinning hot tunes to the cage dancers. From Karma and Quince (what an under appreciated gem) down the avenue to Picky Girl (pictured), there was enough fashion to feel legit – and make me want to shop.
Unfortunately, the event didn’t draw a huge crowd. The $30 ticket could have played a roll in that. But even more so, I think Grand Ave. needs to figure out its audience for this event and market it accordingly. (Were men aware there would be models in bra and panty sets from Flirt?) I just don’t think enough shoppers realize how hard they’re trying or how much fun they could have had at this energetic event.
The owners of Lillian’s have been hounding me for some time. They wanted me to come check out their occasional store (meaning, open just one weekend per month) in Hastings. Then Chaska. Then Forrest Lake. Basically, name your third ring suburb, and there was Lillian’s selling designer inspired handbags and knock-off accessories. Honestly, I didn’t pay too much attention. But now, it’s hard not to notice: Lillian’s is moving in to the city – to South Minneapolis at 50th and Xerxes and in the former Karma space at 841 Grand Avenue in St. Paul (both opening Aug. 7 to 10). It’s hard to believe they can sell enough purses in four days to justify the monthly rent in either of those desirable retail districts, but the two women who started the company in 2005 are quite confident in our endless thirst for inexpensive bags. Stay tuned!
From vintage doilies to contemporary negligees – Jessica Gerard is determined to find retail success on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. She has closed The Vagabond, which was filled with a smattering of vintage home goods and ladylike gifts, and will reopen in early May as Flirt Boutique, featuring a "sexy-sweet combination of lingerie, loungewear, accessories, and bath…inspired by vintage Hollywood glamor." She plans to carry Wendy Glez and Eberjey lingerie and intimates, Bella Il Fiore cosmetics and Roger and Gallet bath products plus travel accessories, fabric care, cosmetic cases, jewelry, slippers and more. Sounds like a welcome addition to the east metro. Right now you’d have to hike over to Wayzata, home to Unmentionables and Cherie, to find many of these brands. Check back with AliShops.com for a review as soon as the store opens at 1330 Grand Ave.
When I broke the news to my editor yesterday that eq-life is closing its last remaining store on Grand Avenue, she replied: “We already knew that, right?” In our hearts, I told her. The announcement of the planned November closing was made official only this week, but the writing has been on those sparsely merchandised walls for some time. The concept of blending health and technology in a setting that appeals to women was intriguing, but always somewhat confusing to the average shopper. Ipods, feel good books, organic vitamins, lotion and lattes? What is this place – a giant stereotype? Not only was the message a bit vague and condescending, there was no real reason to visit. The atmosphere felt institutional. And everything sold at eq-life could be purchased elsewhere. The company’s future seems to be shops within hospitals, which probably makes more sense. As for the gaping hole the store leaves at the primo corner of Victoria and Grand, my money is on Anthropologie…and another big fight from the chain-hating neighbors.
I’m a big fan of the Excelsior & Grand development in St. Louis Park. Too often, when a "downtown" pops up in the middle of a suburb, it looks like a phony facade in the middle of a huge parking lot. But Excelsior & Grand really seems to fit in. The development looks urban, but has fountains and greenery that make it an attractive gathering spot. The stores (including Q., Shorty’s Loft, Max’s, Shu and Lulu & Luigi) are locally owned and unique, there’s a variety of tenants from dog boutique to nail salon, the restaurants are varied, there’s a great park just down the hill and plenty of paths, and who could forget: Trader Joe’s.
Nevertheless, I just got word that Che Bella, one of the original Excelsior & Grand retailers, has decided to move to Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Great news for Grand (read more about that in the St. Paul Pioneer Press in the coming weeks – the new shop opens early September). But I’ve heard some rumblings that others at Excelsior & Grand are having a bit of trouble. One of the culprits: parking. Indeed, it’s tough to get one of the few spaces right next to the stores, but there is ample ramp parking nearby. I guess having to walk a bit to the shops is a little too urban for some. What do you think? Do you shop at Excelsior & Grand? If not, why not? Is it the stores, is it the parking, is it something else? Hate to see a promising new district with vacancy signs.