From merchandising and advertising to real estate and technology, business reporters offer insight into the latest trends and people that define today’s top retailers.

Resale clothing market still hot; Winmark adds Style Encore in Eagan

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: May 29, 2014 - 4:29 PM

Style Encore, a chain of women's resale boutiques, now has its first Minnesota location in Eagan. the store opened Thursday, May 29 after purchasing new and used women's clothing and accessories in Eagan and Burnsville for several months.

The concept is designed for women by women, said owner Mary Klapperich, who used to work for the parent company WInmark until she decided to become a franchisee with Style Encore. Winmark also owns Plato's Closet, Play It Again Sports and Once Upon a Child. Klapperich made sure that dressing rooms were larger, including a handicapped accessible one that fits a stroller, and painted in neutral colors.

The new Eagan store is Winmark's 13th in country with more agreements to open, said Steve Murphy, president of franchising for Winmark.

Despite a strengthening economy, the U.S. $13 billion resale market continues to do well, growing at about 7 percent each year for the last 2 years, according to the National Association of Resale Professionals.  

What makes Style Encore similar to Clothes Mentor is that each company pays cash on the spot and no appointment is necessary when bringing in merchandise. But Style Encore is somewhat unique is accepting women's items of all seasons at any time. In other words,on an 80 degree day, feel free to bring in calf-length leather boots and North Face parka. "We buy all seasons every day," said Klapperich.

Clothes Mentor COO Chad Olson said that his stores also accept winter items in the off-season but to a lesser extent.They only accept select winter items during the spring summer, based on an item's popularity.

SE's brands include Ann Taylor, White House Black Market, Chico’s, Talbots, Coldwater Creek, Banana Republic, Gap, J. Jill, and The Limited.

The store is located at 1960 Cliff Lake Road, suite 125 in Eagan.

Herberger's outlet opens in Maplewood

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Department stores Updated: May 15, 2014 - 3:46 PM

Herberger's new clearance center in Maplewood is open for business. The official grand opening isn't until Friday, but the outlet opened "softly" on Wednesday.

Most of the customers were in the neighborhood and noticed the "now open" signs, including Denise Aljets of St. Paul who thought the outlet's prices were "better than Wal-Mart's."

It's the mid-line department store's first free-standing outlet store, although there is a smaller clearance center on part of the second floor in the St. Paul Midway location.  Parent company Bon-Ton operates 271 department stores in 25 states, including Younkers and Carson Pirie Scott, but the new Herberger's outlet is only the 4th outlet in the chain. .Bon-Ton has two Carson Pirie Scott clearance centers in Chicago and one Boston Store outlet in Milwaukee.

The 27,000 square foot space in a former OfficeMax includes a large selection of ladies, kids and men's clothing, accessories, shoes and home goods at discounts of 60 to 80 percent. All of the merchandise comes from full-line Bon-Ton stores (Herberger's, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman and others) that went unsold at the end of last year's spring/summer season. None of the goods are special purchase items made specifically for the outlet, said store manager Brian Schinke.

The clearance is located in the Birch Run Station shopping Center at 1717 Beam Ave. in Maplewood. The store is open 9;30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Call 651-777-6134 for more information.

Reader: It would cost $168,000 to replace my boat in today's dollars

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: April 28, 2014 - 2:01 PM

A reader from Plymouth who asked not to have his name used sent me an email in response to my Sunday story about the price of boats.

He went to the NW Boat Sports and Travel show a few weeks ago and was astonished at the prices of boats.  They have taken a major jump up compared to the last few years during the recession when he last shopped, he wrote.

Then things got interesting. He remembered that he paid $5,000 for his 1975 Larson Open Bow runabout fiberglass boat with a 115HP Evinrude on it. The boat is in pristine condition and he still uses it.  
He was 35 years old making $17,500 per year when he bought it. "It was a time of major inflation and the cost of financing it at the time was negated by the inflationary price increases from year to year," he wrote.
He went on to say that if he bought a comparable 18 ft. fiberglass and aluminum runabout with a 115 HP on the back of it, he would pay $42,000 to $48,000 today.

"Unbelievable," he said. "My $5,000 boat was 28.5 percent of my income at the time.  If I use the same ratio to income I would need $168,421 worth of income to buy [an equivalent] boat."  
Few 35 year olds with a family and a mortgage in the early stages of a career are making that sort of money.

He concluded that prices have escalated and wages and salaries in the past 30 years have not kept pace, making the fact that boat manufacturers and dealers are struggling not much of a surprise.

My article mentioned that the more affordable $5,000 Sea-Doo Spark is selling out in the Twin Cities and re-setting manufacturers' thinking. Here's a picture of it.


Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan announces opening date

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: April 24, 2014 - 12:02 PM

Twin Cities shoppers who want to check out an outlet mall will no longer have to leave the 7-county metro to get there. Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan will open Aug. 14 with more than 100 outlet stores. The center is currently 94 percent leased. More stores are yet to be announced.

It will be slightly larger than the Premium Outlets Mall in Albertville. The Eagan location will have a number of outlet stores exclusive to Minnesota including American Eagle, Asics, Calphalon, Cole Haan, Crabtree & Evelyn, Helzberg Diamonds, Watch Station and White House/Black Market. Highly anticipated stores include Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth, Calvin Klein, Coach, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap, Hot Topic, J. Crew, Johnston & Murphy, Talbots, Torrid, True Religion, Under Armour and Lucy.  .Full list of stores.

The $100 million center, which is located at the southeast corner of Highway 13 and Highway 77 in Eagan, is expected to bring traffic congestion to the area on busy shopping days such as Black Friday. Should the center be as popular as Albertville on weekends in the summer, traffic management plans will need to be in place, according to the Eagan City Council. SRF Consulting Group in Minneapolis has been hired to create plans for high-traffic times.

The oval racetrack design should make crisscrossing the stores easier than in Albertville, which uses a shuttle to get shoppers between the two buildings separated by a street. Even traversing between Polo Ralph Lauren at one end and Nike at the other can be a hike for power shoppers in Albertville. Parking in Eagan will be around the perimeter of the racetrack design. A walkway from one side to the other splits the center of the racetrack for easier access to stores.

There will also be a food court with indoor/outdoor seating, a two-sided fireplace, and covered walkways.

Tax Day freebies and discounts

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: April 15, 2014 - 9:10 AM

Restaurants and retailers are asking us to celebrate the completion of the 2013 tax year (or at least that's the way I'm interpreting it) with a few bargains. Many sources are putting out the list, including Dealnews, Pocket Your Dollars and the Christian Science Monitor.

Deals can be found at Arby's, Boston Market, Bruegger's, Cinnabon, Famous Dave's, Hard Rock Cafe, IHOP, Office Depot, Papa Murphy's, Perkins, Sonic, White Castle and others.

Add your own if you know of others.

Custom-fit $5,800 office chair features "floating back"

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Technology Updated: April 11, 2014 - 11:30 AM

I don't know how many versions Mies van der Rohe discarded before he was satisfied with his Barcelona  chair or how many Poangs-in-training Ikea had before it settled on its classic, but woodworker Robert Erickson is on the 60th version of a chair now called the Niobrara Office Chair.

Erickson, a Californian who is in the Twin Cities through Sunday, April 13 at the American Craft Council show in St. Paul, custom makes the office chairs to fit more than a dozen personalized measurements. Friday through Sunday at 1:15 p.m., Erickson and his son Tor demonstrate how each chair is customized to a person's back, legs, seat and height.

More than 60 hours of labor are required by the Eriksons to craft each bentwood chair, plus nearly a dozen  hours by the upholsterer and harvesting and drying the materials. The flexible slats that rest against a person's lumbar region are flexible, allowing more comfort.

Erickson's Niobrara chair, named after a river in Nebraska where Erickson grew up, is a melding of sustainable black walnut from California and leather from free-range Great Plains bison.

The chair is in its current form has been sold since February after it debuted in Baltimore. Three have been sold so far for $5,800 each. Expensive yes, but it's not a delicate piece of art. "It's extremely durable and very well-made," he said. "Ergonomists, dcotors and chiropractors love it."

Erickson will be able to custom fit the chair through Sunday. After that, fittings are done at Grand Hand gallery in St. Paul.

Tickets to show at RiverCentre in St. Paul (199 Kellogg Blvd. W.) are $11. Friday night only, tickets are $5 on site after 5 p.m.


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