Today’s retail climate is exciting, fast-changing, energizing, and sometimes challenging. Part of the challenge is that shoppers have so many choices. They can shop online or shop when they travel out of town. They can shop at brick and mortar stores, where they can choose among big-box discount stores, national department stores, or stores that are locally owned.
I don’t have to tell you which choice your friendly El Paso retailers hope you pick!
To keep the customers coming in, experimentation has become the lifeblood of small business. People have often asked me how I learned the retail business because I certainly had no retail training or experience when I started running my own store more than 30 years ago. The answer: trial and error and experimentation. Try something new; see if it works. Repeat.
An experiment in the works
A couple of months ago, I brought in a new staff member – a savvy former Farah executive — to build on our success in women’s apparel, fine jewelry, and shoes. He suggested we open a “pop-up store” on the Eastside at The Fountains at Farah.
I told him that was a really dumb idea, and left it at that.
However, the notion wouldn’t leave the back of my mind. And other staff kept telling me they liked the idea.
As you may know “pop-up shops” are temporary retail spaces that began as a trend in urban settings such as Tokyo, London, and New York City. Pop-up stores can sell anything from art to fashion to tech gadgets. These short-term stores have generated a lot of excitement and can be really creative and engaging.
But I can be really stubborn. For the last two years I have told my friend John Folmer of RJL Real Estate Consultants in El Paso, the leasing agent for Paul Foster’s Fountains retail concept, there would be no way I would ever consider having a store at The Fountains.
In fact, my husband had already told John that if I ever tried to open a second store, we would probably no longer be married because I would end up too busy too stressed!
Well, guess what: Tres Mariposas is opening a pop-up store November 1 at The Fountains at Farah. And so far my marriage is intact!
The Fountains welcomes locals
And guess what else: other Westside boutiques apparently like the idea, too. I hear that Ella Blu, J Luxe, and Ruby Lola have committed to temporary or permanent stores at The Fountains. You’re going to have an irresistible treasure trove of beautiful, interesting local shops all in one fun shopping center.
The Fountains has been unusual in its pursuit of local specialty shops to add spice to its mix. Why do you think that is? Three guesses!
Yes, the correct answer is owner Paul Foster, the community-minded Western Refining business leader who is behind the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Foster-Stevens Basketball Complex at UTEP, and the Chihuahuas baseball team partnership, to name a few of his projects.
From the outset, since even before the shopping center opened two years ago this month, Paul has pressed for local specialty store involvement and buy-in, to supplement the roster of national retailers. I now agree: what a great idea.
Soon Border-area shopping enthusiasts will have even more choices. So as the holiday season approaches, you can shop Westside stores, shop Eastside stores — just please remember to shop local stores!
It’s Thanksgiving week and I have so much to be thankful for, starting off with the love and light from my family and nearest and dearest friends. I’m also very thankful for your support and readership over the last 19 years!
I would like to claim that Thanksgiving is about fashion, the number one worldwide priority in my book. But I guess I’ll admit it’s about a much more common priority – delicious food and eating together.
Food is an occasion for sharing. Think about it. Meals are often the social parts of our days, times for talking and laughing. Sharing a meal with others gives us a sense of security and provides vital connections among family members and friends. It also creates new bonds, among co-workers, members of our congregations, and participants in whatever groups that we join.
Of course all animals eat, but humans are the only animals who cook! Indeed, cooking is a nurturing social activity. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, cooking, and spending time with family and friends, I am sharing a few favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
If you’ve been by Tres Mariposas during the week before Christmas, maybe you have received a jar of cranberry-raspberry sauce as a gift. I make it to share with customers each year. At Tres Mariposas we serve it over cream cheese with crackers. It’s also great over turkey or any meat.
Tres Mariposas Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce
Makes about four and a half 8 oz jars.
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
1 small box (3 oz.) raspberry Jello
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
2/3 cup boiling water (only for stove top method)
Microwave: Omit water from recipe; Combine ingredients in 3-quart microwave-safe dish, loosely covered with waxed paper. Cook on high power 10-12 mins, stirring every 3 mins. Cook till sugar dissolves and most of the cranberries will burst. Pour directly into jars and let cool.
Stove Top method: Place all ingredients in large pot. Bring to a boil; simmer 10 mins, stirring constantly. Spoon jam into jars; cool 1 hour. Cover with paraffin or refrigerate.
Be sure and cook until it is well dissolved and most of the cranberries are popped. If it isn’t cooked long enough, when it cools it will be grainy with a lot of sugar settling at the bottom of the jar.
While there are many good sweet potato recipes out there, this one is from our buyer at Tres Mariposas, Bobbie Baldridge. Bobbie is not allowed to attend any Tres Mariposas holiday gatherings without it. Our staff would lynch her. It is mouth-watering, amazingly good.
Bobbie’s Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
Combine all ingredients in medium mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Pour into greased Pyrex deep baking dish and sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
For best results: Bake fresh sweet potatoes in foil, in oven, until soft. This can be done ahead of time and then refrigerated until ready to assemble. Use real butter. Cut into small pieces while still cold. This also works for the topping.
A lot of people are like me. Pumpkin pie is just a little too pulpy pumpkin intense. For people who don’t think they like Pumpkin pie, this one is fantastic. The recipe belongs to my Aunt Barbara Harrington of Memphis who, by the way, will be in town with other family to visit and honor my dad Leroy Harrington this week.
Pumpkin Pie for People Who Don’t Like Pumpkin Pie
- 1 cup milk
- 1 and 1/3 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg, beaten lightly
- 3 rounded tablespoons canned pumpkin
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon each of ginger, cloves, and allspice
When the unbaked piecrust is ready for filling, add hot milk to pumpkin mixture. Do not add milk earlier as the heat will cook the egg. Fill 8” piecrust. Sprinkle top with cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, and 40-45 minutes more at 325 degrees.
Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!