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Ali Shops Blog

Posts Tagged ‘twin cities shopping’

Out of the Allee

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Charm only gets you so far. And apparently, it doesn’t get you down the European-inspired alley at Selby & Snelling in St. Paul to shop Allee Metro Chic. The boutique is planning to move to the former L’atelier Couture space at 493 Selby Ave. That’s closer to co-owner June Berkowitz’s coffee house, Nina’s Cafe. But mostly, it’s out of the alley and visible from the street. Allee hopes to reopen in its new space by Oct. 1.

Oh yes, you caught that part about L’atelier Couture? Here’s a peek at the bridal salon’s fantastic new North Loop space:

Photo by Liz Banfield

Doesn’t it just make you want to be a bride?

L’atelier Couture, 219 N. Second St., Suite 404, Mpls

I Almost Want to Camp

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

There are stores that do a good job catering to a specific demo. And  then there are stores that do their thing so well, you can’t help but want to do it. Even if it’s camping.

Hi, I’m Ali. And I love Midwest Mountaineering. It’s just so homey and welcoming. It feels cozy, and yet, the assortment runs deep, including national brands and interesting locals with a story. One room leads to another, and then another, filled with boats and skis and socks and jackets and packs and strange hooks and cords and carrying cases, and all the gear you never knew you needed to enjoy the great outdoors. At least, I didn’t. I walked in last week (in heels), looking for a functional bag to use as a prop in a photo shoot tomorrow. I had my pick: Patagonia messenger bag in orange, Duluth Pack red and black plaid, Jansport backpacks in a rainbow of cool color combos I’ve never seen at department stores. (Many of them are currently 20 percent off – just in time for back to school!) The help is not only friendly but inspirational: The manager I worked with is headed to Haiti soon on a volunteer mission to bring supplies…much like what you can buy at Midwest Mountaineering.

More to love: Thrifty Outfitters, a store within the store, offers great deals on closeouts, factory seconds and used apparel and gear from top-rate brands.

Palm Beach Dreamin’

Monday, April 4th, 2011
I was in Palm Beach last week, strolling from Hermes to Chanel, discovering hidden gems down each achingly charming Mediterranean via on the famed Worth Avenue when I got an email from Mall of America announcing a trio of new designer stores, including Michael Kors. I always get excited about retail arrivals for the Twin Cities – especially proven performers like A|X Armani Exchange that are finally realizing we’re not all farms and igloos in the Land of Lakes. I’ve been feeling good about MOA’s momentum – they’ve tried many times throughout the years to attract luxury – or at least, upscale – retail, and finally, they seem to be making headway.
Then I visited Town Center in Boca Raton, and not only do they have virtually every upscale store at or coming to MOA, they have dozens more. Henri Bendel. Cartier. Bvlgari. CH Carolina Herrera. Vince. That’s in addition to five department stores which carry those lines, and many, many more. Town Center is a Simon mall – just like, and absolutely nothing like, Southdale. (Imagine Simon giving Edina a Saks Fifth Avenue rather than a Herberger’s!) We might be home to the nation’s first mall, and the biggest, but we’re still in Minnesota, and we’re always going to have to fight for our designer dresses. At least we appreciate them when we have them – just ask Monique Lhuillier.
Our underdog fashion status makes the local boutiques that much more important in the Twin Cities. They give us what our department stores (beside Nordstrom) don’t think we’re worthy of. At Saks in Boca, you find racks of Cut25, the Yigal Azrouel diffusion line (pictured, left). Here, you’ll find it at Grethen House. Bumbershute has lines like MikeGonzalez that you sure won’t find at our sorry Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s. OPM, Arafina, Allee Metro Chic and BlackBlue are just a few of the other Twin Cities boutiques introducing Minnesota to new, buzzed-about lines, even when the malls and chains are not.
At least we have Target. I’m especially anxious for next month’s launch of Calypso St. Barth for Target after visiting the Calypso store in Palm Beach (pictured, right) – there, Calypso’s $150 tops and $350 dresses seem like the Gap compared to the brand’s ultra luxury neighbors. Calypso is the epitome of island chic – so breezy, so effortlessly sexy – the billowy blouses in orange, pink or ocean blue, the breezy dresses – I wanted one of everything.  Of course, an ocean and 90 sunny degrees do make for ideal accessories.
Calypso for Target will launch on May 1. I’ve previewed the look book, and it is extremely promising (sometimes I think Target would be better off with lesser quality photography – then so many of its designer collaborations might not be as disappointing in person): There are beachy tops, fashionable coverups, long sundresses in chic neutrals and summery brights and prints. If the dresses don’t fit, the jewelry, sandals, totes and even the tableware look desirable too. Worth Avenue, it’s not. But then, neither am I, the other 51 weeks of the year. So, I’ll wear the Target version, and save my pennies for another week on the beach (and maybe, if it rains, a couple of hours at the stores) with my family.

Haven Maven

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Garage sale shoppers, take note: Haven Maven opens Thursday in a small, second level suite in downtown Excelsior offering home décor resale – up to 90 percent off retail. No digging required – the mix is quite manageable and consists mainly of small accessories – vases, pillows, decorative pieces. Perfect for those who don’t want to put in the time bargain hunting, but want the deals. Owner Nancy Muller calls herself the “thrifty” interior designer. She has over 25 years experience. 436 Second St., #204 (upstairs), Excelsior

Perks of downsizing

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Zida Fashion Accessories has moved its original store across the parking lot outside Burnsville Center to a spot more visible, but about half the size. There are actually more bags hanging on the walls of the new space, without seeming cramped. The owners, friends and former flight attendants Machele Baird and Kelly Bray, have gotten savvier about merchandising, and lowering their overhead will actually allow them to take more risks. “We want to step it up,” Bray says. “Customers have been asking for more expensive (translation: higher quality) bags; we want to try some trendier pieces.” Just about everything, jewelry and handbags, at Zida is less than $50. The new store is at 14300 Buck Hill Road, Burnsville. Zida is also open at Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove.

The Uber plan

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The rebirth of Uber Baby at West End in St. Louis Park is set for April 9. Sounds like Lynne and Dan Gonsior aim to recapture the hip flavor of the original Uber Baby in South Minneapolis, and do it up bigger. They will introduce a private label line of baby basics called "U" and a wall of chic diaper bags they promise will be "largest in the country." Anxious for my sneak peek in a few weeks! Will keep you posted.

Better than $40 designer jeans

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

MODE has delivered what it promised since opening in Maple Grove: brand name, brand new apparel, accessories and beauty goods at outlet prices. Owner Ciara Stockeland has been planning a bigger, better, more polished boutique setting across the street from the current shop on Main Street and finally, she's ready to open there on April 1, and market the store as the "Home of the $40 designer jean." Think that's a deal? Mark the calendar: for the first three days, the first 40 customers in the store will get a pair of jeans for free. Details here.

West End update

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Caught up today with the developer of The Shops at West End who has been working against odds to lease the new outdoor center at Highway 100 and 394 in St. Louis Park that broke ground just before the economy crashed. It's taken considerably longer than expected, but that's partly because they are sticking to their original upscale concept, targeting fashionable, urban women 20-55 who want the latest – as long as parking is convenient and free. The payoff will finally start to be realized in April and May with the opening of Lululemon Athletica yoga wear and Republic of Couture, a boutique-y chain offering trendy labels like William Rast and Hugo Boss for women and men. Both are new to the Twin Cities – an admirable goal of the developer's. (Anthropologie and Love Culture are currently holding down the retail front along with local fave Creative Kidstuff.) The other priority: a mix of local boutiques, and to that end: Uptown retailer Ini Iyamba has signed on to do an Ivy women and men's store and Amy Briesemeister will resurrect her Long Lake boutique Pink Champagne. Also opening this spring: Uber Baby and Hot Mama. Raze, a men's hair salon from Regis, is scheduled to open March 1, followed by Toby Keith's bar and grill the third week of March with more food concepts to come including Mexican, pizza, crepes, a wine bar and – fingers crossed – a local coffee/dessert joint that would be open late. As the action picks up this spring, don't be surprised if a few national chains flee their current Minneapolis or west metro (watch out, Ridgedale) homes to join West End.

Designer deals coming to IMS

Monday, January 25th, 2010

This sounds promising: Just got word about a new showroom that will allow the public to shop for designer furniture and accessories at deeply discounted prices at International Market Square. (Generally, you need a date with a decorator to get in.) The Sale Room @ IMS is scheduled to open March 4 with furniture, decorative accessories, textiles, rugs and lighting consigned from designer showrooms for at least 50 percent less than the suggested retail price. Check back – I'll let you know when it's ready to shop.

After the Lava

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Sad shopper Mike asks: "Ali,
Has Lava Lounge closed? I'm hoping they have just moved, but the store was boarded up today. What do you know?" Well, Mike, I know that Lava Lounge lasted much longer than most. I know that we must support our innovative, out-there boutiques or they won't last as long as Lava did. In their case, it was time to move on to a place warmer and well, fancier. Read about it here and see pics of the new Wil Stiles shop in Palm Springs here. Meanwhile, support our independent boutiques and hope there is another bold, funky, edgy, weird, hip, warm, savvy retailer waiting in the wings to take a chance and dazzle the Twin Cities. | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved