The postcard announcing Intoto's annual clearance sale featured the headline: "This is it."

They weren't kidding.

One of the most influential fashion boutiques in the Twin Cities will close at the end of July. A retail champion of fashion-forward designers, the Uptown icon stocked rare labels such as Dries van Noten, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Marni for women and Paul Smith, Etro and Rogan for men

While the shuttering came as a surprise to customers, it has been in the works for a while, said owner Karen Heithoff and her partner, Michael Pickart. "I've known for some time that I was moving toward leaving the business," said Heithoff. "After celebrating 20 years in business, we had a moment when we realized we built this image and we had to figure out where are we going from here."

Although Heithoff said the closing was not driven by the economy, Intoto is just the latest high-end Twin Cities boutique to shut its doors. Others include Ivy, Belle Reve and the Edina location of Stephanie's.

"It's sad that [Intoto is] closing," said Ini Iyamba, owner of Ivy, which went out of business earlier this year. "Consumers are still really longing for smaller boutiques and intimate atmosphere to go shopping," he said. "There's a huge void in the market now."

But reports of the death of boutiques would be greatly exaggerated.

Some of Intoto's lines will be picked up by other stores. Bumbershute owner Kathryn Paulsrud hopes to add 3.1 Phillip Lim, which she was prohibited from carrying at her 50th and France location because it was too close to Intoto.

Grethen House (also at 50th and France) had a "gentleman's agreement" not to sell the same brands as Intoto, said owner Mary Brindley. But her store, which has been in business for 57 years, may now offer some lines Intoto claimed, in addition to its current offerings, which include Maison Martin Margiela, Yigal Azrouël and Commes des Garçons.

And although Intoto is gone, it isn't likely to be forgotten: Several longtime employees have plans to open a boutique in 2011.

Heithoff, for one, has high hopes for high-end fashion in the Twin Cities. "Yes, things are more difficult than they were in the halcyon days, but we're a very hip city," she said. "There will always be a client for fashion done right."



Shorty's Loft summer blow-out sale begins: Savings of 30 to 70 percent on clothing by Anoname, Aventura, Cubism, Mystree, Komarov, Luna Lutz and Sue Wong, plus jewelry, handbags, belts and furniture.

4590 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-473-0404.

FinnStyle's semiannual Marimekko clearance sale: Get 10 to 70 percent off bags, dresses and fabrics, including a large selection for women and children.

Through July 15, 160 Glenwood Av., Mpls., 612-333-2127,


Cliché's July 4th tent sale: Past and current seasons will be deeply discounted. Look for $5, $10 and $15 racks.

10 a.m. to 7 p.m., 2403 Lyndale Av. S. (tent will be in back), Mpls., 612-870-0420.


Ivy Spa Club summer sale: Get 20 percent off facials, massages and body treatments; 15 percent off nail treatments and 10 percent off waxing.

Through Monday, 201 S. 11th St., Mpls., 612-343-3131,


Bora trunk show: Omorphia is hosting the Mediterranean-influenced designs in sterling silver, bronze and gold with precious and semiprecious stones.

Wednesday, 1 to 5 p.m., and party from 5 to 9 p.m. and next Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m., 206 Water St., Excelsior, 952-401-3311.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177 •