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New women’s boutique aims to slow life’s pace

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Clothing retailer Soft Surroundings will open its first New Mexico store later this week at ABQ Uptown.

Formerly a catalog-only brand, Soft Surroundings will open its local bricks-and-mortar location on Friday at the site formerly occupied by Ann Taylor.

Officials said the apparel and home goods are designed exclusively by and for the brand, and the beauty department will feature complimentary cosmetic and skin care consultations as well as regular events.

“We couldn’t be more excited to finally bring Soft Surroundings to New Mexico, specifically to ABQ Uptown,” Danny Boddy, senior vice president of retail, said in a statement. “Our brand is all about slowing down life’s rigorous pace and taking the time to rejuvenate and take care of one’s self. We feel strongly that this is something that the women throughout the Greater Albuquerque area can relate to and we are excited to give them an opportunity to experience what we are all about.”

The chain uses its catalog database and sales history to dictate where new stores are added. The Albuquerque store, at 2261 Q St. NE, will hire 20 people. “That’s more staff than you would normally find in a typical boutique,” said Jessica Conick, senior public relations specialist.

The store, which will occupy a 5,000-square-foot storefront, has the kind of merchandise that really resonates with women “50 plus” but has something for women of every age, Conick said. “That’s what’s nice about our offerings,” she added.

“I’ve also ran into a lot of guys in our stores, especially at the holidays, who are looking for something special for the women in their lives,” Conick said. “You can never go wrong with gift certificates.”

Soft Surroundings’ investment in brick-and-mortar stores comes as several of the country’s largest retailers are retrenching, such as Macy’s, Sears and JC Penney. “It’s a unique situation with all these other retailers closing, and yet we’re able to grow,” Conick said of the 16 stores the company is opening this year, the largest expansion year to date. “We’re very fortunate.”

Albuquerque will be store No. 57.

The first 100 customers in line at the 10 a.m. opening will receive a gift bag with a variety of goodies from the store.

In the bag

Speaking of swag, Blush & Whimsy, a luxury cosmetics company that launched in Albuquerque, has grabbed a high-profile gig at the Grammys.

Founder and CEO Micaela Brown said the company’s lipstick line will be included in 2018’s official Grammy Award gift bags.

Presenters and performers at this year’s awards ceremony that celebrates the best in music will receive a gift bag filled with exclusive products, including Blush & Whimsy lipsticks.

“We’re honored that Grammy presenters and performers will experience the magic of our lipsticks for themselves,” Brown said. “Each lipstick interacts with your own pH and lip temperature to create a color that is perfectly and uniquely you.”

The FDA-approved lipsticks – which are not tested on animals – are made with ingredients such as cocoa butter, botanical extracts and lavender oil.

Jonesing for java

Starbucks customers at the Petroglyph Plaza shopping center have a new and improved coffee shop, with a highly coveted drive-through option. It opened Nov. 3. (Steve Sinovic/Albuquerque Journal)

Taylor Ranch-area Starbucks customers have a new and improved coffee shop, with a highly coveted drive-through option.

It opened Nov. 3 in a new portion of the Petroglyph Plaza shopping center at Golf Course and Paseo del Norte NW, according to store staffers. The landlord moved Starbucks to a free-standing drive-through pad. The smaller existing Starbucks at 1,950 square feet will be available for a new tenant, according to listing agents Base 5 Retail Partners.

Starbucks resisted for many years the notion of drive-throughs and finally course-corrected its own point of view, according to global restaurant consultants Aaron Allen & Associates. Today, Starbucks has a drive-through in about one-third of its U.S. stores, and they account for 45 percent of the company’s total retail revenue.

By 2019, Starbucks expects to grow from $16 billion to $30 billion in revenue, with 60 percent of all new locations including a drive-through.

Steve Sinovic is the retail reporter for the Journal. He can be reached at or by calling 505-823-3919.