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Ali Shops Blog

Posts Tagged ‘handbags’

My New Friends: George, Gina & Lucy

Friday, February 18th, 2011

My radio co-host Alexis Walsko showed up for Shop Girls last Saturday toting a bold new bag by George, Gina & Lucy. The hunter green canvas with leather trim and outrageously large hardware details made for a quirky-cool look for everyday wear. No one would dare mess with that handcuff-sized clasp. It’s not often that Alexis and I covet the same items. Her last bag made an entirely different statement, with the word “BOY” emblazoned, white on black, along the side. Took three months to convince her it was a diaper bag, not a date catcher.

I couldn’t have met George, Gina & Lucy at a better time: Maha! Inspired Activewear in Wayzata is receiving a big shipment of the bags this week – just in time to take advantage of Maha’s Swag Deal of the Week: 25 percent off regular priced merchandise! The bags, in myriad colors and shapes, sell for around $200. Print the coupon here and I’ll see you there!

Check out Harold

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

HaroldWell hellooo, Harold. Introducing the new menswear-inspired accessories line from hot, hot Minneapolis-based Nelle Handbags. The launch party is April 15 and you're invited. Don't forget to RSVP – you could win a Harold tote. Details here.

Photo courtesy of Erica Loeks Photography

Good Rapport

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Rapportspring Budding Minneapolis accessories line Rapport is really coming into its own this spring. The new collection, now available online, features vibrant pinks and oranges, rich suede and luxe texture. These bags and bows won't go unnoticed. Meanwhile, another hot Minneapolis handbag line is poised to introduce a new collection: get ready for the April 15 launch of Harold, menswear inspired accessories from Nelle.

Lillian’s: Taking over the world

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

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!

Clutch closing

Monday, May 12th, 2008

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. | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved