Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Buy of the Week

This is a feature I hope to incorporate every week—picking out a cool item that I like. It may or may not be something I've bought. Let's hope I don't post a new item I've actually bought every week … shopping addiction, anyone? Just kidding. I'm out and about a lot, so I'd like to share with readers some hip little snag-able items here and there that our retailers are, well, retailing.
This week's item is NOT from a local retailer. It's a heavy plastic striped bangle from Express (forgive my picture-taking skills). It's so flashy, so Samantha Jones in Sex and the City, that I had to share it with you guys. Not to mention it's so ridiculously over-the-top in '80s coolness. It's bright and punchy, and will kick up my summer ensembles.

Express, West Towne Mall,

The Declaration of Independents

I attended a Dane Buy Local "Independents Celebration" today. The name of the event of course is a play on words; "independents" meaning independent retailers in Madison. Speakers talked about—what else—the importance of buying local.
Rick Brooks dressed up as Paul Revere because what else would one do at an Independents Day Celebration but sign the Declaration of Independents? Mayor Dave Cieslewicz stressed the impact buying local has on our economy, adding that a dollar spent locally is reinvested in the community as many as three to five times.
The celebration also upped awareness for Dane Buy Local's Guide to Local Services that just came out. Its three hundred-plus members are categorized in an easy-to-find fashion with labels like "Restaurant/Hospitality," "Gifts/Kids/Pets/Home" and "Business to Business."
Attendees included local businessowners like Orange Schroeder of Orange Tree Imports, Jim Bradley of Home Savings Bank, Josie Pradella of TerraSource Gourmet Chocolates and Jack Garver of Fanny Garver Gallery.
Dane Buy Local,


The High Noon Craftacular is once again upon us. Handmade jewelry, clothing, bags, stationery, home goods and gifts are what’s available. Although The Glitter Workshop is closed, they’ve kept this tradition alive. The first fifty shoppers get a free swag bag, too. Sponsors include Anthology on State Street, a shop that also peddles a lot of handmade, crafty things. Tami Beirne, owner of the Boho Bauble, will also be selling her jewelry.
The High Noon Summer Craftacular, Saturday, June 28. 10a–4p. High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave. Info: or 219-5933.

Speaking of Anthology, a recent email from the shop is trumpeting all of their great new stuff in stock. A recent trip to the New York Stationery Show yielded half a dozen new greeting card lines. They’re also excited about a new paper line from Italy that features Florentine architecture, pasta, poppies and typewriters. Sounds interesting.
Of course they’re always hosting events like bridal showers, birthday parties and kids’ events. So stop in and create a postcard July 1–15 or July 16–31 to make a paper garland for good wishes for yourself or a friend.
They’ve also started a new blog:
Anthology, 218 State St. 204-2644.

On down the line to Epoch at 214 State St. I stopped in recently to check in with Jennifer Brewster on her new digs (photos at left). The store is painted in fun, eye-popping colors and is chock full of great, mint-condition vintage stuff. Brewster only carries items from the 1970s and older.
She also stocks reworked vintage stuff like button rings and brooches and old polyester pants that have been revamped into cute skirts.
Brewster has such an eye for vintage that she can usually eye up an item and tell instantly what era (Epoch is “era” in Latin, by the way) it’s from. When she and I visited she pulled out a shoebox of items a customer had recently dropped off. It contained a beautiful Grecian-style copper necklace, bracelet and earrings. She also pulled out a lightweight aluminum bracelet and earring set with a bird engraving. Brewster told me both were from the 1950s. She also pointed out a cherry red Bakelite earring and bangle set (retail price: $65). Neat stuff!
Epoch, 214 State St. 255-2385.

Madison Magazine’s BEST of Madison party is this Friday June 27. All winners and attendees receive a gift bag. I have my hands on a sneak preview of what’s in the lovely, reusable Trader Joe’s grocery bag:
-Ancora Coffee
-A FREE thirty-minute massage or pure focus facial from Styles Salon Spa
-Money-saving coupons from J. LaMore, Ann Taylor, Dazzle and Pop Deluxe
-A buy one get one lunch coupon from the Capitol ChopHouse
-Candinas Chocolates
-A buy one get one coupon from Stella’s Bakery for use at the Farmers’ Market
-Savings coupons from JukeBox Bandstand and Madison Magazine

In other words, our swag bag is just as swanky as say, the freebies in the gift suites at the Oscars. Weeelll, maybe that’s a stretch but hey, you can’t argue with free stuff, right? I’m making my appointment for that massage ASAP!!

Recently I did a with Heidi Anderson, owner of unearthed. Anderson’s cool little digs received national attention on Dwell magazine’s website!
I love what Dwell blogger Michael Cannell "wwrote about the shop: “Why are we so sentimental about American life of an earlier era? unearthed, a small shop in Madison, Wisconsin sells oddly beautiful vintage items, typically from farms, factories and schools, like the 1960s classroom lab tables shown above and the carnival bottles below. ‘Each one with a story to tell,’ said Heidi Anderson, its founder. ‘They offer the kind of character that speaks in loud whispers to the sharp observer.’” Way to go, Heidi!
Anderson’s pieces are reworked in such a way that to an observer they’re familiar (those beakers from high school science class) but transformed into beautiful, useful and decorative objects for the home.
unearthed, 2501 University Ave. (across from Lombardino’s) 441-1993.

David Bacco Chocolats opened in Hilldale Shopping Center in late May. Previously, Bacco’s chocolates were featured at CoCoLiQuot (now closed).
According to Bacco, popular flavors at the store include caramel, cashew caramel, Pomegranate Malbec, Tahitian Vanilla and Honey Lavender. Prices: $1.80/single; $8.25/4-piece; $15.50/8-piece; $22.50/15-piece.
David Bacco Chocolats, 550 Midvale Blvd. 233-6100.


American Apparel will be opening in the old Reebok space at 502 State St. This is exciting news for shoppers because of American Apparel’s great selection of basics as well as trend-forward must-haves. American Apparel stores are now located in thirty-one states, including the two sites that are opening in Wisconsin. The second location, in Milwaukee, will be on the city’s east side in Kenilworth Square, off of Prospect Avenue. The brand is based out of Los Angeles.
American Apparel’s stuff for the most part are layerable items like tanks, tees and leggings, spruced up with slimmer, more flattering fits. Their T-shirts are not like the three-pack of Hanes men’s tees you can pick up at Target. Some items are a little … crazy for my taste, like the copper-colored high-waisted leggings and of course, the multicolor bodysuit. Despite some of these off-the-wall items (I don’t know if this store will carry these or these are just online items), I do like American Apparel’s basics: their scoop-neck tanks, T-shirts, tracksuits and polo dresses, all of which I own.
P.S. Please, please, please do not buy this item if they sell it in the store! It’s not 1990 again, people.
American Apparel, 502 State St. 250-8100.

Have you been to Lou Rags, the vintage store in Verona? If you haven’t, you’d better visit there by July 31. Owner Loura Turner is closing the storefront and offering discounts on her lovely vintage selection. Eventually Turner wants to reopen on the east side of Madison and have her children run the store. Turner is currently (and will continue) selling her lovely vintage items online at
Her items are certainly worth the trip though. I spied an exquisite peacock-blue scoop-neck sheath dress with painstaking hand beading all over. The tag read “Made in Hong Kong for the British Crown.” From the ’60s, it was selling for $195. I saw sparkling cocktail rings, Art Deco-esque necklaces, cheery cotton sundresses and a cherry-red Oleg Cassini suit (famous clothier of Jacqueline Kennedy in her First Lady days).
A walk to the back of the store reveals vintage coats, belts and a huge, huge array of every vintage button you could ever want.
“People want things that are made well,” says Turner. “These things are individual and unique.”
Lou Rags, 215 S. Main St., Verona. 848-2747.

Do you remember the old Kimia Lounge? Well it’s being turned into Utpala Tibetan Rugs, which was formerly a little down the street at 122 State St. I walked by last week and saw work being done on the inside and some rugs already on display.
Utpala Tibetan Rugs, 122 State St. 259-9395.

MoCo Market will be closing Sunday, July 6. Owner Megan Ramey will be moving back to Boston to live with her husband Kyle. Ramey reports in her newsletter that she “wanted to change the way people lived—less car, more life. My head is bursting with ideas regarding urban planning, brand innovation, sustainable business practices and eco-tourism.”
All retail (except Etsy items) will be seventy-five percent off. Ramey is also selling her restaurant supplies like coolers, a freezer and more via silent auction.
MoCo Market, 804 Willimason St. 250-6626.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wallet Feeling Lighter? Shop Smart With These Tips

How many times have you heard that gas is so expensive now? Or consumers are "tightening their belts" on spending? Or the dollar isn't stretching as far as it used to? Well, not to sound repetitive, but it's true we're in some tough economic times. How does a fashionista or just a plain shopper, survive? I've got some tips.

Buy Consignment or Vintage
Exhibit A: Today's The New York Times' Style section and the article titled "When Conscience and Closet Collide." Writer Ruth La Perla discusses high-end consignment shopping, which gives shoppers a dual benefit: snagging a deal on that Nordstrom dress that was originally $300 (now maybe $150) and a chance to clear out their closet to make some dough, too. As I've pointed out before, buying consignment is also green—no new resources are being used to make that cute Theory top since it's used!
I stopped in Lady Moxie the other day (see "Tidbits" entry, below) and I found two covetable items: a thick brown/bronze braided belt and an adorable black ruffle dress. Cost? $20 and $50 respectively! A recent trip to the HospiceCare Thrift Store snagged me a $5.99 yellow cable-knit Polo sweater and long, funky chain necklace for $2.99.
Can't beat that. There are deals to be had, people.

Buy During Sales
I know, I know, you're thinking, "Tell me something I don't already know!" But you need to know when to shop. Retailers have a typical markdown schedule. Markdown schedules can be highly variable; however, a good rule of thumb is about eight to twelve weeks after an item hits the store, it'll be marked down (J. Crew seems to defy this schedule I have noticed, though :)). That means if you really want that bracelet or top and you can wait patiently (and it stays in-store, of course) it can be yours for cheap(er). The next best strategy is to befriend your favorite shop owner and get on their email list or give them your contact information. That way when that cute wrap dress is on sale, they can contact you. That's why it's a bonus to shop locally!

Buy the Next Best Thing
I'm not really an advocate of those fake Kate Spade bags you can buy in New York and whatnot. I do recommend, however, buying items that might be inexpensive but have a luxe look to them. That adorable Coach nail-head enamel bracelet for $68? Yeah, I saw almost the exact same version at Target for $12.99. And then I waited to purchase it until it got marked down and I got it for $5.99! (see above)
When I was shopping in Milwaukee a few months ago I saw a beautiful long necklace that looked eerily similar to Van Cleef & Arpels's "Alhambra" long necklace. If you shop locally you can score some neat stuff. And hey, the more power to ya if you can afford the Van Cleef & Arpels version!

Buy the Basics for Cheap, Splurge on the Expensive Stuff
Although I'm a local shopping champion, I realize that it's somewhat impossible to buy everything locally (I don't). My advice? Shop at Target, H&M, GAP, Old Navy et cetera, for the basic stuff. I buy my favorite long scoopneck Ts from H&M, long ribbed tanks from Old Navy and flip-flops from Target. Trendy jewelry is another item I buy for cheap.
What to splurge on? A statement handbag, coat, shoes or jeans. Items that you know you'll use for a long time and will weather the years well. My favorite jeans? Rock & Republic (don't ask how much they are :)). My favorite wool pants from Club Monaco are $100+. Local shops offer all kinds of fun items to splurge (or save) on.
Want some vintage-looking jewelry? Stop at Little Luxuries and check out their La Vie Parisienne line (a lot cheaper than a jewelry store!) Or go to the brand-new Atticus to check out the line of beautiful, delicate 14K gold charm necklaces by Mine Jewelry owner Kristin Wild carries.

Make Small Updates
Feeling "blah" lately? Making some small tweaks in your wardrobe can be just the ticket. Pick up a hot new pair of shoes, bangle or inexpensive clutch to punch up an outfit. Dazzle is a good candidate for any of the above (minus the shoes). Or check out Patricia Shoppe for jewelry, shoes and handbags.
Want a non-clothing way to jazz up your (or someone else's) day? Pick up a sassy and heartfelt card from a local retailer and give it to a friend who needs some cheering up. I just stopped in Savoir Faire at Greenway Station and picked up a card for a friend and last week's trip to Pop Deluxe yielded a hilarious birthday card for my brother.

Atticus, 18 N. Carroll St. 204-9001.
Dazzle, 8426 Old Sauk Rd. 826-4455.
HospiceCare Thrift Store, 122 Junction Rd. 833-4556.

Lady Moxie, 6706 Odana Rd. 826-4268.
Little Luxuries, 230 State St. 255-7372.
Patricia Shoppe, 137 W. Johnson St. 256-1111.
Pop Deluxe, 310 State St. 256-1966.
Savoir Faire, 1701 Deming Way. 831-7800.


It’s the start of wedding season and The Artful Home is here for you. Need help selecting a gift? Click on the Wedding Gift Guide and pick from a dazzling array of gifts for the betrothed. Shoppers can pick from pricey (Rock Cottage Glassworks turquoise/yellow art glass bowl for $1,075, anyone?) to more affordable (Lilach Lotan Pottery’s Signature teapot for $150). According to a recent company press release the wedding gift guide will remain available year-round. Tabs like Traditional Elegance, Feather Their Nest, Elegant Edibles A Little Avant-Garde and Wedding Bands give shoppers plenty of eye candy to look at and ensure that the soon Mr.-and-Mrs.-To-Be will love your gift.

Did you know that one of Madison’s local retailers just got a national shout-out? That’s right, Elizabeth Wewerka’s Lady Moxie was recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine in the article “Launch for Less.” I read the article and was happy that Wewerka’s consignment store was recognized for her hard work. The article discusses start-up businesses that are relatively inexpensive to launch.
Lady Moxie, 6706 Odana Rd. 826-4268.

Ma-cha Teahouse and Art Gallery always has something going on. Customers can attend tea tastings, visit the art gallery, or book a private tea service. Either way, it’s pretty tempting when some of the teas you can try include an Iced Coconut and “Dreamsicle” matcha latte or a Green Tea Mojito. Plus Ma-cha is expanding their menu and will be offering more lunch sandwiches and more vegan options.
Ma-Cha Teahouse and Art Gallery, 1934 Monroe St. 442-0500.

drunknBUTTERFLY, located on East Johnson Street, is closing. Right now owner Layla Martin is offering thirty percent off of everything in the store (clothing, accessories and shoes).
drunknBUTTERFLY, 845 E. Johnson St. 256-9119.

Dottie Rose in Middleton is closing. It’s too bad, because owner Melissa Ernst’s collection of high-end consignment clothing (some new stuff too) was truly unique. Ernst pointed out the closing of Tickled Pink and the Middleton Antique Mall severely cut down on foot traffic in downtown Middleton. Add in a tough winter (hello, snowfall!) and it’s a recipe for tough times.
But Ernst is moving on to another retail venture: Harbor Wellness Lifestyle Boutique. Ernst will manage and buy for the shop inside of Harbor Athletic Club. They’ll carry VFish, a Chicago designer; She-Bible, organic cotton clothing; See Thru Soul denim and Blue Canoe clothing.
“We’re just really seeing a need here for more versatile lifestyle wear in Madison,” says Ernst. “People like to be able to wear something to the gym and then out to the grocery store. We’re so busy now.”
Look for the boutique to carry most of these lines come August; Ernst says by December the shop will carry even more lines and merchandise.
In the meantime, everything at Dottie Rose is fifty percent off. get it while the deals are hot!
Dottie Rose, 1835 Parmenter St. 831-9099.

I was strolling down State Street the other week and saw that Sedona (330 State St.) was having a store closing sale.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Shopping Content!

From the June 2008 Issue:

What to buy NOW at the Farmers' Market

Fab Finds: Fresh Finds

Wondering what to get Dad? We decipher what to get him this Father's Day
Style Sheet: Dads Decoded

Iconi Interiors is an icon in the making
Window Shopping: Old and New

Meet Madison's four design stars
BONUS! Watch interviews with each designer here