While recovering from a devastating 2014 car accident that left her with broken facial bones, brain bleeding and a host of other serious injuries, Adler would often venture outside her adopted hometown of Reno to seek comfort and inspiration at a favorite boutique in nearby Truckee, Calif.
“Shopping,” she says, “saved me.”
“I looked like Frankenstein; I really did not look like myself. I went out with (a) hat and glasses and hid myself,” she says. “We went to Truckee sometimes just to get away. There was a store there and (the owner) had some beautiful clothes, very positive-affirmation clothes. I started buying them, and it helped. It was really part of my healing.”
Rethinking her life in the wake of the accident, she decided to leave her 30-year career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and open her own shop. She and daughter Lyndsay moved back to Albuquerque – where they’d previously lived – and set about planning their new venture.
Their shop, Retail Therapy, opened last week in Nob Hill.
They specialize in women’s clothing and accessories, from high-end denim from brands like AG and Hudson to T-shirts with inspirational messages and gold-plated bracelets engraved with Albuquerque’s latitude and longitude coordinates.
Debra says they carefully compiled an inventory of items “that were fun, things that meant something to us, things that were soft and pretty and things that we liked.”
They try to work with companies that work for greater causes. That includes The Home T – which produced a line of T-shirts featuring a picture of New Mexico that simply reads “Home.” ($30). The company commits to donating at least 10 percent of its profits to multiple sclerosis research. The brand designs T-shirts for communities all over the world, but Debra says she was told no merchant had ever ordered a lot featuring New Mexico.
“We’re trying to bring different things to Albuquerque we couldn’t get (elsewhere),” Lyndsay says.
The mother-daughter team used designer Nicholas Larrañaga-Couty to create a space that lived up to their mission. He used reclaimed wood and other “up-cycled” materials throughout, giving the space what he called a “homey and relaxing” environment.
Debra says she’s excited for this next chapter in her life.
“I think as a counselor you help people in one way, and sometimes you get to help people in other ways,” she says. “I wanted to create a beautiful environment – which Nick did for us – and some place that people want to come.”
Retail Therapy is open Wednesday through Sunday. It’s located at 107 Amherst SE, just south of Central. The phone number is 219-3761.
Dancing and bearded dragons
There haven’t exactly been any peer-reviewed studies on the topic, but it’s probably safe to say that only one break-dancing studio/reptile shop hybrid exists in the entire world.
And guess what, everybody: It’s in Albuquerque.
Christopher Lim – known primarily by his performer name, Check-it – launched the unusual enterprise earlier this year, merging his two passions in a single place called The Dancing Turtle.
Break-dancing was among Lim’s first loves, something he took up as a 13-year-old in his hometown of Chicago. He carved out a successful competitive career, eventually windmilling and headspinning his way onto the U.S. national team.
Alas, at 34 years old, he says he’s now a little too senior for that scene and no longer competes much.
“I’m considered old school in the dance community. … But I’m taking all that knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained through the years and passing it down to the younger generation,” he says.
Hence, The Dancing Turtle, where he’s putting his 17 years’ of coaching dance to more formal use. The studio focuses mostly on kids – including some preschool-age classes taught by Lim’s wife Natane (dance name Soula) – but also offers adult courses. The eight-week courses happen seasonally, with the fall slate kicking off this week, and feature a mix of dance-specific instruction and conditioning. Prices run $75-$100.
But given the studio’s narrow focus on one form of dance, Lim figured he probably needed another revenue stream. Enter the ball pythons and geckos.
Lim, a former reptile department manager for a local pet store, has devoted a portion of his studio to critter-filled terrariums. He deals mostly in high-end animals but nothing venomous. He says he generally spends three to four weeks meeting and educating customers before letting them adopt one of the animals, who each have names, like Smaug, the baby Australian red-bearded dragon ($199.99).
And while the two ends of his business seem to have nothing in common, Lim says he has seen some crossover – a family that comes in for a reptile and ends up enrolling their child in a class or a break-dancer who takes an interest in the reptiles.
Lim says it’s just that kind of place – a comfortable venue meant to foster learning, curiosity and community.
“When people hear about (the combination), they’re kind of like ‘I really don’t understand,'” he says. “It’s such niche markets in each aspect. … (But) the energy in the space itself is very unique and people fall in love with the space; it’s something that’s very nurturing.”
The Dancing Turtle is located at 4706 Lomas NE, near Washington. The phone number is 256-2530. The reptile gallery is open by appointment only.
Let’s talk kolaches
As I recently reported on my blog, Albuquerque is now home to a Kolache Factory.
Franchisee Bob Rundle brought the small, Houston-based chain to the Duke City, opening his restaurant last week at the Paseo Village Shopping Center.
Texas transplants may recognize kolaches, but Rundle knows that the European-style pastries might be unfamiliar to the larger Albuquerque community.
While there are many regional variations within the kolache realm, Kolache Factory based its rolls on the Czech version, according to Hermann Gruebler of the company’s corporate office.
Kolache Factory has about 40 kolaches in its recipe book. The sweet ones come topped with cream cheese, blueberries, cherries or other fruit and look a little like a Danish; the savory options get stuffed with the likes of meat, cheese, eggs and potatoes and resemble super-sized dinner rolls.
They are all made fresh daily – Rundle’s crew gets started at 3 a.m. – and built around the same semi-sweet yeasted dough.
“People ask me ‘How do you choose?'” Rundle said from the shop last week, with trays full of the fresh-baked rolls on display behind him. “I ask ‘Are you in the mood for breakfast or lunch? Sweet or savory? Spicy or mild?'”
Kolache Factory – which has 50 other locations, mostly in Texas – even introduced a few New Mexico-only kolaches featuring Hatch green chile. There’s a green chile/egg/cheese option and one called “The New Mexican” with flank steak, green chile and cheese.
A simple sausage kolache starts at $1.19, and nothing on the menu tops $4.
Kolache Factory is at 8001 Wyoming NE, at Paseo del Norte. It’s open 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.
The phone number is 856-3430.
In other news …
• Nadine and Robin Scala are launching a new “boutique art and event space” called Blue Lily Atelier this month at 3209 Silver SE in Nob Hill. The venue will serve as space for art exhibits, plus culinary, arts and health and wellness courses, according to a news release. It will also be available for event rental. For more info, call 263-6675.
• Albuquerque’s craft beer community is now a little smaller. Broken Bottle Brewery closed its doors last week at 9421 Coors NW, noting on its Facebook page “We have come to the end of our lease and made the decision to step away from the beer business.” Broken Bottle billed itself as Albuquerque’s “first West Side brewery,” having opened in 2011.
If you have retail news to share, contact me at email@example.com or 823-3864. For more regular updates on Albuquerque shopping and restaurant news, visit my blog at ABQjournal.com or follow @abqdyer on Twitter.