Friday, July 25, 2008

New Shopping Content!

Parlez-vous francais? Don't worry, you don't need to to enjoy reading about Greenway Station's Savoir Faire, featured in my August column. This cute and quirky gift and home accessories store has been around for ten years.

Window Shopping: Know Where to Go

Monday, July 21, 2008

RESTAURANT UPDATE

Yet another Indian restaurant is opening on the square: Flavors of India (on Mifflin near State). Plaka (410 E. Wilson St., formerly Cleveland’s Diner) FINALLY opens tomorrow (July 22) for breakfast and lunch. It will be another few weeks before they start serving dinner. Great Deal: Woof’s (114 King Street) Monday thru Friday Happy Hour… sit outside and enjoy full-size, half-price drinks from 4 to 7 p.m. Another real deal is Madison Magazine Restaurant Week which begins this Sunday, July 27. If you’ve never participated in a past Restaurant Week, you’ve definitely missed some great menus at ridiculously low prices. More info about this even can be found here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To the Max




This weekend is Maxwell Street Days, Madison’s biggest shopping sale. Sidewalk sales will prevail as shoppers can pick and choose what items strike their fancy. Whether it’s a quirky, cool gift from Pop Deluxe, a slick T-shirt from Jazzman or a bejeweled something from Art Gecko, savings are to be had.

Bop
started up the party by having a “preview sale” Thursday for mailing list customers. From what I understand bop’s sale can get pretty crowded and intense: Madison Magazine intern (and big shopper) Andrea told me the store had bins of jeans marked at sixty dollars on Thursday, along with lots of other markdowns on designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs. I think I’m going to have to make a stop; hey, in the current economic climate you can’t beat sixty dollars for high-end jeans!

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art museum store is having its sale indoors during Maxwell Street Days. Posters will be five and ten dollars each, along with sales on items like jewelry, toys, books and more.

Fanny Garver Gallery
will be offering fifty percent off select items, which will include: art glass, jewelry, pictures and more.

Photos: Top two, Little Luxuries, bottom two, Pop Delxue

Other participants:

Fashion: Citrine, Goodwill Industries, The Peacock, Sassafras, Karen & Co., Jazzman, Lands’ End Not Quite Perfect Store, Mango Boutique, Sacred Feather, Steve & Barry’s, Sedona, Tiger Lily, Wintersilks and Urban Outfitters
Shoes: Madison Sole, Jack’s Shoes
Sporting Goods: Fontana Sport Specialties, Sports World, Yellow Jersey
Arts, Gifts, Jewelry: Anthology, Art Gecko, Capitol Kids, B-Side Compact Discs, The Fanny Garver Gallery, Little Luxuries, The Pipefitter, Pop Deluxe, Poster Master, Shangri-La Collections, Sunshine Daydream, Tellus Mater, Tropic Jewel
Health and Beauty: Community Pharmacy, The Soap Opera
Books: A Room of One’s Own, Mimosa Books & Gifts, Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative, Shakti
visitdowntownmadison.com
MMoCA
, 227 State St., 257-0158. mmoca.org

Fanny Garver Gallery
, 230 State St. fannygarvergallery.com

Bop
, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570. shopbop.com

My Buy of the Week: A Summer Scent

So if Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears wear it, should you wear it too? Uhhhhh, let me clarify: if it’s Ed Hardy’s new “Tattooed Fruity Floral” scent, you should. The celebs above have been spotted wearing Hardy’s lifestyle line (designed by Christian Audigier) like hoodies, hats and tees with Hardy’s signature tattoo style (skulls, flowers, bulldogs, serpents). But Hardy’s scent (which I have tried) is surprisingly soft, sweet and refreshing—not at all heavy like you’d expect it to be.
The description reads: “The fragrance opens with top notes of apple souffl√©, mango, wild strawberry and ruby red grapefruit leading into subtle hints of mid-note freesia petals. The sweet fruity opening warms with the skin to give rise to the bottom notes of warm amber, vanilla pudding and tonka bean …”
Yum. Pick it up at Macy’s.
Macy’s, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 232-2525. macys.com

Dog Days

I’m a sucker for those lame-o celeb tabloids. A friend bought me a subscription to US Weekly for my birthday, and I occasionally pick up Life & Style or In Touch. Yes, I feel it necessary to know what is going on with The Hills crew or what jeans Rachel Bilson bought recently … or something. Ahem. What was I talking about again?
Ah, yes. You too, can have celebrity for a dog! Bad dog frida is holding a contest for dog owners to submit photos of their beloved fuzzy one for the chance to be featured on a custom label treat bag! Owners should submit ten dollars (which will be donated to the shop’s featured rescue group, Greyhound Pets of America) and a print photo (no digital files) by July 31. Photos should be labeled on back with your name, dog’s name and your contact information. Photos will not be returned.
The winner will receive five free bags of treats, ten percent off all future purchases of the treats and of course, people stopping you on the street to ask if they can have Ruf’s autograph. You’ll both be so cool, you’ll have to wear shades.
bad dog frida, 2094 Atwood Ave. 442-6868. baddogfrida.com

Model Musings

So, it comes with the territory of reading fashion magazines that the majority of models are stick-skinny. Just the way the fashion world works. Recently though, I saw two surprising (and cool) fashion spreads: the models featured weren’t stick-thin and dare I say it … normal looking!
Paige Premium Denim’s (known for their great-fitting jeans) fall 2008 lookbook features two women modeling various denim looks that don’t appear to be a size zero! It really is nice for women to see these realistic looking models and say, “Hey, she looks like me.” Although the models are thin, they’re not size zeros and they’ve got some curves to them (a butt and hips! Who knew?).
American Apparel (whose store opens on State Street soon) also favors models that have interesting and different looks. Women (of all ethnicities) are featured: many don’t have washboard stomachs and perfect, freckle-free faces. It’s really neat to see these little, positive changes crop up in the beauty and fashion industry.
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty was one of the first companies to hold a magnifying lens to the beauty industry and consciously choose women that had real-looking bods and faces; pretty neat. For real.
paigepremiumdenim.com
American Apparel,
502 State St. 250-8100. americanapparel.net

Fashion Update

As I wrote about previously, Milwaukee Fashion Week (October 3–6) held an Open Call for new talented designers. MFW organizer Hillary Fry tells me designers chosen to show their collections during the week should be announced by August 1. Next week the designers will attend a meet-and-greet at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Close to forty designers entered the Open Call.
The best part? One of the designers will receive one thousand dollars to spend on shoes for their collection from zappos.com.
“We’re excited about this, to give people here more exposure and have more opportunities to launch their line by showing here,” says Fry.
fashionbythelake.com

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Do I Do All Day?

What does it mean to be a Best of Madison winner? To me, it means that your shoppers have rated your customer service, merchandise selection and overall store look and concept as top-notch. As we know, local retailers don’t have as many resources (i.e. money, staff) as big-box retailers like Target, or department stores like Macy’s, to launch huge, fancy marketing campaigns, weather a downturn in the economy or quickly replace employees that quit or are fired. I have heard various stories from local retailers on the struggles and rewards of being a boutique owner.

In a smaller city like Madison, local retailers have to differentiate themselves from other local shops and offer something different. Shops that offer (for example) unusual clothing lines, kitchen products, furniture or handmade jewelry are going to be the ones that will do better than those who deal in the same-old, same-old. Gold winner for men’s clothing Jazzman does just that: offers lines that can’t be found anywhere else, with staffers that are friendly and approachable. Gents can find everything from casual wear to dapper suits to fit every occasion. Prices are affordable as well. Silver winner Woldenberg’s and bronze winner Context each offers its own merits of why customers of all ages like these shops, too.

Or take J. LaMore, gold winner in the women’s clothing category. Jennifer LaMore’s savvy eye for what women like surely resonated with voters. Cute shoes, jewelry, cocktail dresses and premium denim round out her shop’s selection. Of course silver winner Woldenberg’s and bronze winner Terese Zache Designs deserve props too for their genuine employees, well-crafted clothing and attractive interiors.

What about stores that didn’t win (but deserve to)? Simply put, it’s a reader’s poll and editorially, we don’t have control over what our readers say, we just report the findings. I received an email from a reader the other day lamenting Madison Magazine readers’ choice of Macy’s for the gold winner in men’s and women’s clothing (chain). He thought that Macy’s “single handedly wiped the regional department store off the face of the earth,” pointing out that Marshall Field’s was a much better department store in its day. In fact, there’s a group (fieldsfanschicago.com) that is pining to bring Field’s back! He and I had a spirited exchange about how the reader’s poll operates and how I choose the shops I highlight in the magazine.

So, how do I choose the shops I highlight? A couple of different criteria go into my choices. One, is the shop new? Is it a local retailer? Those are the two first things I look at. If the store isn’t new, why is it worthy of being covered (I only get to write twelve columns a year!)? What is the owner’s background, and are they offering something unique to the market? Is the merchandise selection quality and reflective of what the Madison market will buy? Finally, is the store interior attractive and inviting? (I have been in stores where this is NOT the case; I have chosen not to write about those places).

So, that’s what your trusty style editor does in her day-to-day doings. Now you know! And more importantly you know that Madison Magazine has high standards for every topic we cover, whether it’s retail or restaurants.

And so do our readers.

Jazzman, 340 State St. 256-2062.
Woldenberg's
, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 233-4300. woldenbergs.com

Context
, 113 King St. 250-0113. contextclothing.com

J LaMore
, 2701 Monroe St. 238-2119. jlamore.com

Terese Zache Designs
, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 310-4100. teresezache.com

Happenings

Three Orange Doors is having a Sidewalk Sale Thursday, July 10 through Saturday, July 12. Look for a twenty percent off coupon on page 100 in our July issue!
Owner Gail Paraskevas stocks vintage items like reclaimed furniture, dishware, decorative accessories and new crafty items, like handmade jewelry.
Three Orange Doors, 2789 Fitchrona Rd. 848-3336. 3orangedoors.com

Natasha Vora is holding a customer appreciation drawing at her store INDOCARA for the month of July. Enter to win a $180 hand-carved marble lotus tray. She’s also having a sale this month so stop in to check out the deals. INDOCARA was a silver a Best of Madison winner in the upscale furniture and home accessories category.
Indocara, 540 W. Washington Ave. 251-7711. indocara.com

Next week: coverage of Madison’s biggest shopping event, Maxwell Street Days.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Party Pics

Did you know that Madison Magazine is now posting "Party Pics" on the website? That's right, partygoers can now check out fun times and purchase pics. Check out pics from our Best of Madison party! I also posted two here from my own camera to show off the beautiful dress I wore. Constructed of white silk dupioni and made by local designer Jess Newman, I got compliments on her handiwork all night!

The first picture is with the (incognito) folks that own Weary Traveler, Natt Spil and Magnus, Prentice and Chris Berge.

The second photo is with myself, Angela Richardson and Mad Mag's editor, Brennan Nardi.

Sale, Art and Fashion!



Exciting bop news! Shoppers will get twenty percent off of all non-sale items until Sunday, July 6 (the store is closed July 4). The promotion is in-store only.
Shop away!
bop, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570. shopbop.com

It’s almost Art Fair on the Square time. This year, shoppers can “pre shop” artists’ wares at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s website (MMoCA puts on Art Fair). This is the first year for this neat feature, according to Terry Boehner, marketing assistant with MMoCA. Items include paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, glass, fiber/leather and more. Although people can’t buy the items directly from the site, shoppers can get a preview of what to look at and click on links that will take them to the artists’ websites.
“People can start looking at things to get an idea of what artists’ booths they want to visit and map out a strategy,” says Boehner.
This year is Art Fair’s fiftieth anniversary.
Art Fair on the Square, July 12-13. Sat 9a-6p, Sun 10a-5p. 200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. mmoca.org

A while back I wrote about Madison Fashion Week. Now Milwaukee is hosting its first-ever Fashion Week, October 3-6. The entire weekend sounds quite ambitious, with appearances from designers Gilles Montezin and Lawrence Zarian; fashion writer Tia Williams and stylist Jean Vout√© Pratt. Events include VIP receptions, runway shows, modeling tutorials, dinners, a riverboat cruise and meet-and-greet events. I hope that I can attend some of these rather exciting events! The weekend really sounds as if it will be a lot of fun and a fashionista’s dream come true—right in our own backyard!
New designers can even break into the biz by applying to an open call event. The juried event will be held during Fashion Week at the Pfister Hotel. If you know anyone locally that should apply, encourage them to do so!
I’ll be writing more about Milwaukee Fashion Week as the events get closer.
Also look for another Madison Fashion Week this fall!
Milwaukee Fashion Week, October 3-6. fashionbythelake.com