Photos by Caitlin Abrams
There was a time when independent boutiques had a reputation for being spendy, but the fact is, local stores now compete with the big chains when it comes to fast fashion—with one significant perk: you get the deals, along with the individual service and attention that makes boutique shopping special. On the heels of Primp, a “cheap chic” boutique that now has five Twin Cities locations, here are three more local stores where you’ll find plenty of options priced at less than $100.
If you have to ask for directions, you’re probably not the target shopper for this women’s contemporary store nestled in the Eagle Valley Marketplace, a small strip center near Woodbury’s Stonemill Farms neighborhood. Owner Heidi Martin wanted to appeal to women living in and around Woodbury, and as the store name suggests—sisu is a Finnish term meaning determination and perseverance—the strategy seems to be paying off. Sisu’s look is a casual, cool alternative to running around in workout gear: denim, ankle boots, chunky sweaters, soft blouses that look great alone or layered. For fall, Martin is experimenting with a few specialty items priced north of $200, but she is committed to keeping most merchandise between $40 and $100. “If I can’t get myself on board with the price, or I feel like we’re just paying for a brand name, we move on immediately.”
2170F Eagle Creek Ln., Woodbury, 651-436-2076, shopwithsisu.com
2. Le Bon Marché Boutique
Last summer, Courtney Smallbeck closed her 50th & France boutique, Drama, and reopened in the same space as Le Bon Marché—same eye for casual fashion and sexy party pieces, but more attention to prices. “People think it’s going to be expensive and are so pleasantly surprised when they look at the price tags,” Smallbeck notes, adding that it’s much easier for a boutique owner to find great pieces for less than $100 today. The process of translating runway looks at affordable prices is near instantaneous now, and better fabrics make it easier to get the looks for less. Smallbeck makes frequent trips to Los Angeles, where many of her vendors are based, just to make sure she isn’t sacrificing quality to get the appealing prices. Le Bon Marché also features local jewelry designers, and this fall you’ll notice an influx of small furnishings and home décor (prices do top $100) thanks to a new partnership with Kamarron Design.
4946 France Ave. S., Edina, facebook.com/shopbonmarche
3. Proper & Prim
Sisters Teresa and Ashlie O’Day opened their first store four years ago in Fargo, North Dakota, and then followed many of their customers to the Twin Cities with a second location that opened this summer in Lyn-Lake, right next door to Pharmacie home and gift store. With an eye for on-trend fashion, and a belief that great clothes should be attainable, they offer a youthful, modern assortment of pieces for work, weekend, and even a night on the town. Find shoes, bags, and jewelry along with women’s apparel.
2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-345-5486, properprim.com