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Ali Shops Blog

Posts Tagged ‘minneapolis shopping’

Cupid Strikes at Arrow

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Arrow, the hotly anticipated North Loop boutique from Intoto alums Michael Basham and Sarah Dwyer opened briefly on Valentine’s Day for a VIP preview. The store officially opens Feb. 23, although you may catch the lights on here and there until then.

Former Intoto shoppers seemed relieved/giddy at the array of casual luxury apparel–slouchy sweaters, chic blouses, understated–but clearly high-end–accessories from fashion forward (they call it “directional”) brands. Several more spring collections are expected to arrive in the next few weeks. This opening elevates the growing retail scene in the North Loop tremendously. 121 N. First St., Minneapolis

Making a Statement in the North Loop

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

I’ve been a fan of jewelry designer Stacey Johnson since I first stepped into her charming, closet-sized store around the corner from Patina in South Minneapolis. Her designs are modern and understated–perfect for a touch of everyday pretty at an extremely reasonable price. The first pair of dangling gold hoops I bought from her remain in regular rotation. Johnson’s store burned down with Patina in 2010, and since then she’s popped up–not often enough–at shopping events or for trunk shows. You can find her jewelry at Bibelot and her husband’s downtown Minneapolis boutique Bahu (popular with travelers staying at the Hilton, but under-shopped by locals).

Johnson is about to raise her profile. She plans to open a boutique next door to martinpatrick3 in the North Loop. Great news for her fans, and for the budding North Loop shopping district, which will also welcome new fashion boutique Arrow next month. In addition to her own designs, Johnson will broaden the mix to include jewelry, handbags, accessories, gifts and clothing from other designers. “We plan to have a nice focus on local designers and companies while offering the best and unique brands from around the world,”said Johnson, who is on her way to New York for a buying trip.

The store will be called Statement. An April opening is planned.

Friday Fun

Friday, January 6th, 2012
Uptown boutique Local Motion has found a way to lift the doldrums of January clearance shopping. Stop by every Friday this month from 4 to 6 p.m. for happy hour(s) and find secret sale items each week. Racks are packed with fall and winter markdowns, and spring fashion is already arriving.
And if it’s Friday, then you can shop for bargain fashion accessories at Fun Sisters in Minneapolis. That’s right, any Friday. One of the original “occasional” stores is changing its format and will now be open every weekend, Friday-Sunday. A storewide sale is on all month. Get 25 to 50 percent off everything.
Local Motion, 2813 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., 612-871-8436
Fun Sisters, 4253 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-9872


Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
A masked mannequin named Bruce greets shoppers outside the new Honeyshine in Bryn Mawr, setting the tone for a truly unique retail experience. Located in the old Bryn Mawr Garage, the fantastically merchandised store is filled with interesting and unexpected home accessories and gifts, modern and vintage. From glass vases on tree-trunk end tables to delicate necklaces dangling around the necks of stuffed birds, owners Adam Braun and Daisy Mitchell prove that you can have good taste and a sense of humor. Love the look as much as we do? Ask about design services. 414 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-377-7300

The Many Faces of Len Druskin

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Len Druskin is going to need more names at the rate his son, president of his local retail empire, Michael Druskin is opening stores. The latest: Len Druskin Outlet is scheduled debut March 10 at City Center. It will replace the Len Druskin Clearance Experience, which has been temporarily located at Bonaventure in Minnetonka. New markdowns will be taken on Friday, Feb. 18, and the Minnetonka outlet will close March 6.

The new downtown Minneapolis Len Druskin Outlet will be the clearinghouse for markdowns from the full price stores (Len Druskin at the Galleria and Len Druskin Man and L.D. Len Druskin at Gaviidae Common), and will also feature some designer discount apparel purchased especially for the store.

This gets the retailer back to the concept of the original Len Druskin Outlet at Southdale Center, which now is Len, a fast fashion version of trendy contemporary apparel for women and men. Len stores, which have no connection to Len Druskin merchandise other than in name, are also located at City Center and Rosedale Center.

Meanwhile, the clearance center next to the Len store at Southdale will remain…for the time being. And while Minnetonka will be left without any Lens, don’t be surprised if one of them reappears soon.

You follow?

Michael Druskin acknowledges the various formats and names could be somewhat confusing to shoppers, but he’s not concerned. “Over time, it will become clearer, simplified,” Druskin says. “We just want to provide the best product possible at each location. As long as we do that, with good service, people will figure it out eventually.”

Holiday shopping: Nola Home

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Full disclosure: my dad (Joel Kaplan)’s art show was the main reason I visited Nola Home on a recent night. And in my unbiased opinion, I’d say his watercolors are worth the trip. But I was also enchanted by the festive atmosphere at this Bryn Mawr gem. Kelly Dorsey is a master merchandiser – able to mix jewelry, books, textiles and decor in an original way that makes you want it all. (Interior designers are known to shop Nola for inspiration). Known primarily for home goods, you’ll find the shop brimming with affordable gifts including scarves, locally made jewelery, candles, ornaments and, of course, original artwork.

Holiday shopping: Casa Verde

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Fresh destinations, fresh inspiration for gift ideas. Before the holiday shopping panic sets in, I’ll steer you to some unique spots for clever prezzies.
First up: Casa Verde in South Minneapolis. This luxury kitchen and bath showroom stocks its sleek space with home furnishings, artist creations, and gifts in keeping with Casa Verde’s commitment to promote stunning, sustainable design in everyday objects.
Just a few examples of what’s currently in store:

Birch Bark Napkin Rings, $55 for set of four

Hand Carved Olivewood Salad Scoops, $35.00

Windsor Tankard (handblown glass), $55.00

Service with a smile (and toilet paper)

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Even if the new Belle Weather in LynLake carried nothing but lumps of coal, I’d still owe it a stellar review. I showed up Sunday, 10 minutes before opening, knocked on the door and unleashed my two young boys on unsuspecting new store owner Crystal Kopan. She smiled, even as they dumped their coats on the floor like they owned the place and spun card racks fast enough to see if they could set them into orbit. Now I know what you’re thinking: why doesn’t she teach those boys to behave. And believe me, we had conversations before, during and after this unfortunate store visit. But every child has his moments (ok, some more than others) and the two together is a lot more than one.

It was hardly the first (shopping experience, that is) for my guys, ages 6 and 2 – they’re seasoned pros on the boutique scene, but in their defense, a gift shop with dainty things is not so much their cup of tea, especially at lunch time. And in retrospect, I tend to be with one or the other when I go shopping – not both, to egg each other into craziness. Not to go all mommy blogger on you, but as a working mom, shopping is one of the things I can do – or delude myself into thinking I can do – with them (unlike interviewing and writing and radio show hosting). I’m a hopeless multi-tasker, so when we were driving past the brand new store last weekend, I had to stop.

Four minutes in, my big boy had to go. You know, go. Like, really bad. Crystal hesitantly pointed us to the bathroom with a warning that it was sort of crammed with stuff. So my younger guy busied himself with a tangle of display racks while the older one…well, settled in. Couldn’t be a quickie, of course. Some time later, when we reemerged, Crystal was still smiling and patiently carrying on a disjointed conversation with me about her retail outlook. She followed up with an email saying our visit was the highlight of her day.

Poor thing, must have been a pretty awful day. But what a good impression she made.

The shoppers have spoken

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Parc Boutique and Belle Reve opened around the same time on East Hennepin Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis – before the bottom fell out of the economy. Belle Reve was flashier, designer focused and all about the fab dress and killer heels while Parc Boutique offered the more reasonably priced ruffly tops and cool jeans you knew you’d wear a thousand times. Belle Reve is gone. Parc Boutique is expanding and will reopen this week in Belle Reve’s larger space at 320 E. Hennepin.

I was sad to see Belle Reve go, but the truth is, I never bought anything there. It was out of my league for every day wear and just not the place I (or apparently most women) thought to shop for special occasion pieces. Meanwhile, Parc owner Thao Bui – in her sweet, understated way – has listened to the marketplace and responded successfully. Her customer wants the latest fashions with a point of view and the accessories to make it all pop – but on a budget. The new jewelry lines she’s picking up: Vintage City Classics, KR Designs, DeVintage jewelry and others, are all priced under $75. As are most of the clothes from new lines Minkpink and Kensie. Parc Boutique is also adding local designers Kjurek Couture and Amanda Christine for cost-conscious couture. For men, basics from Alternative Apparel will be complimented by an influx of belts, watches and jewelry – easy ways for the hipster to update without breaking the bank.

It’s nice to see a young retailer evolve and succeed. It’s reassuring to know that what shoppers want (or perhaps need) does count.

Details on Parc Boutique’s re-opening can be found at

Shades of green

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Moss EnvyIt’s not easy being green – so Twin Cities Green is becoming Moss Envy. The new store will open June 19 at 3056 Excelsior Blvd. near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, next to Whole Foods. It will still be green, but a little less GREEN as owners Ryan and Tina North try to move from niche to mainstream lifestyle store selling a broader range of goods, from furniture to clothing – all of which happens to be eco-concious. (Read more about the evolution of Twin Cities Green and the green movement in my Savvy Shopper column.) May 28 will be Twin Cities Green’s final day at 2405 Hennepin Ave. S. in Uptown. A moving sale is on now. | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved