Friday, June 26, 2009

Now Open: The Velvet Umbrella and Lu Anders

As your intrepid shopping reporter I’m always on the lookout for newer stores and I have two to tell you about: The Velvet Umbrella and Lu Anders.

The Velvet Umbrella opened in September and is in the old Dottie Rose location on Parmenter Street in Middleton. Those of you who didn’t get in to Dottie Rose can also identify the location as next to the now-closed Tickled Pink and kitty-corner from Roman Candle.

The boutique stocks French bath and body products in delicious scents like mandarine pamplemousse (mandarin grapefruit), Walking in Provence, vanille lavande (vanilla lavender) and more. Also look for linen spray, hand soaps, candles and baby care items. Each shower gel, body lotion, hand soap—whatever—isn’t housed like your run-of-the-mill Suave bonus-size lotion bottle from Target. Some are carefully gift-wrapped in little gift bags; all bottles have fancy labels that enhance the specialness of each product.

Although owner Jeannette Caruso wasn’t working, the employee that was was very helpful—telling me that all of the brands they sell are exclusive to the area and was even familiar with the production process of some of the bath and body lotions sold.

In addition to bath and body, The Velvet Umbrella sells foodie delights like Gourmet Village dips (cheddar onion, roasted pepper) and soups (minestrone), Tea Forté and Harney & Sons teas. The interior is chic and calming with pastel blue walls, hardwood floors and black and white shelving.

The Velvet Umbrella, 1835 Parmenter St. 836-3424.

Lu Anders, by contrast, is far newer than The Velvet Umbrella—it just opened two weeks ago in the same shopping center that houses Rejunvenation Spa, La Baguette and O’Grady’s. Formerly an Allen Edmonds shoe store, the interior underwent a full makeover from manly hardwood fixtures and a darker color palette to airy and white. The interior of the store is still quite spare with white walls and white shelving and little decor—which is understandable, given the newness of the place.

The women’s lifestyle boutique focuses on comfy clothing like tees, tank tops and lounge pants up to dressier items like jersey-knit dresses and fashionable little jackets. She’s the only purveyor of Trollbeads in the area—individual beads made of sterling silver and Murano glass that wearers can string into bracelets. Each bead has a different meaning and Hallquist says she’s already had people stopping in requesting them.

Another accessory item the owner is excited about are SwitchFlops, flip-flops that come in three different shoe styles that wearers can change out the strap patterns. You can find everything from nautical stripes to polka dots to chain-link patterns on the change-outs. The flip-flops range from $33 to $49 for a kitten-style sandal and “switches” are $5 for the flip flops and one free for the kitten-heel style. (Another local purveyor of SwitchFlops? J. Kinney, mentioned in a blog post below!)

Oh, and in case you’re curious about the name Lu Anders, it’s named after the owner's daughter Lulu and son Alexander.

(Photo courtesy of J. Kinney)

Lu Anders, 7412 Mineral Point Rd. 827-8270

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