Tag Archives: commerce

Madison’s malls offer quirks and character

A community’s shopping destinations reveal a lot about a community’s character. Madison, the state’s second-largest city and the home to Wisconsin’s largest university, boasts stores that pack a lot of variety into a little bit of real estate.

Consider State Street, the mile-long pedestrian mall that connects the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to the Capitol. The many shops along State Street reflect the quirkiness of the city’s academic, political and hipster influences.

Monroe Street runs southwest from Camp Randall Stadium, threading several older west side neighborhoods. The stores and galleries offer more upscale fare, but all are colored with Madison character.

In Madison, even the shopping malls, often the bane of urban existence, put a unique spin or two on the retail experience. Several warrant a visit as you complete your holiday gift list this season.

Hilldale Shopping Center, 426 N. Midvale Blvd., on the city’s near west side, may be one of Madison’s most emblematic malls — thanks to the nature of its tenants and the history of its founding and development.

Originally part of the Hillfarms neighborhood development that enabled Madison to continue its 1960s-era westward expansion, Hilldale sits on land that was once part of the UW School of Agriculture. A 1961 legal tussle between shopping center developers and the UW Board of Regents reached the U.S. Supreme Court, but the justices declined to hear the case. An agreement was reached and the shopping center finally opened on Oct. 25, 1962.

Fast forward 50-plus years to a new and vastly improved Hilldale, characterized by a bright new “street scene” shopping and dining experience to complement an adjoining enclosed mall. 

The space features cleverly designed parking structures and a row of private residence townhouses facing Midvale Boulevard, creating traffic and density issues significant enough to concern the mall’s residential neighbors.

Macy’s anchors Hilldale, occupying space formerly filled by Marshall Field’s and, originally, Gimbels. The upscale department store and its vast array of goods set the tone for the rest of the shopping community.

Sundance Cinemas 608, another anchor tenant that opened in 2007, was the first theater in Robert Redford’s Sundance Group to open in the United States. The six-screen cinema, named for the Madison area code, shows independent, foreign and first-run films with the feature of being able to reserve specific seats.

The smaller stores make Hilldale even more attractive.

Shopping for someone with a sweet tooth? Gigi’s Cupcakes offers creative and delicious baked goods. Specials through Nov. 29 include Apple Pie and Mama’s Butterscotch Bacon cupcakes.

Just down the “street,” DB Infusion Chocolates offers artisanal truffles. Our favorites include the Pomegranate-Malbec, made with pomegranate molasses, Malbec wine and rich dark chocolate. We also like Caribbean Fire, a mashup of Ecuadoran chocolate laced with chipotle peppers, nutmeg, allspice and jerk seasoning.

Upscale clothing is one of Hilldale’s hallmarks and there are few better places for men’s and women’s shoes and accessories than Cornblooms. Locally owned since the 1970s, the store offers one-stop shopping for footwear, handbags, jewelry, wallets, belts and novelty socks. Look for top brands, including Birkenstock, Frye, Dansko, Pikolinos, V Italia and Kanna.

Hilldale also is home to one of only two Anthropologie stores in Wisconsin. The company sells upscale clothing, shoes and home goods — and is a good place to start whether you’re looking for something boho-chic or suiting up for the next wedding.

If you really want to ramp things up, kate spade new york offers ultra chic clothing, shoes, handbags, housewares and gifts. One of only two kate spades in the state, the store’s motto is — “Buy what you love and you’ll never go wrong.” 

The shopping center features Madewell for great jeans — and everything that goes with them — and L’Occitane en Provence for skin and body care products.

On the far west side, commercial areas of Madison and Middleton blend seamlessly, offering a wealth of shopping options. High-end retail outlets tend to cluster at Greenway Station, an open-concept shopping mall at 1650 Deming Way in Middleton, where clothing, accessories and dining options dominate. But the shopping center is not without its economical stores, too.

Chico’s is a perennial favorite among women who want to look their best. The boutique’s artisan jackets and wrinkle-free Travellers collection have built a following.

A wide array of women’s clothing and accessories also can be found at J. Jill, Maurice’s and Soft Surroundings.

Nearby, Pendleton features enduring American style in its classic wool clothing and blankets. Featuring men’s and women’s fashions, the store offers goods woven in American mills for higher quality and that “made in America” cachet.

Athletes can get their game on at several Greenway stores. Total Hockey offers everything for the hockey and lacrosse players and fans in your life, including skate-sharpening and lacrosse stick-stringing services. 

Triathletes, runners and walkers will feel at home at Endurance House, which provides casual and serious athletes with shoes, gear and even a personalized movement profile that helps staff address a customer’s capabilities and needs.

Hunters and fly fishers can gear up at Orvis, home to the Distinctive Country Lifestyle line. Shoppers can find unique clothing and home furnishings while shopping for products for their dogs or even taking fly-fishing lessons.

Greenway Stations also offers Christopher & Banks and Marshalls for lower cost alternatives to chic designer togs and you can outfit your feet at DSW (aka Designer Shoe Warehouse) with the latest in discount fashion footwear.

Once you tire of shopping, you can top at Claddagh Irish Pub, Cold Stone Creamery or any other of Greenway Station’s many restaurants for a pick-me-up and chances to review your purchases.

Remember, if you buy what you love — even if it’s a pint of Guinness stout or two scoops of your favorite frozen confection mixed before your eyes on a frozen granite slab — you’ll never go wrong.

Six Flags wants to clear trees for solar farm

Environmental groups have filed suit over a New Jersey theme park’s plans to cut nearly 19,000 trees to build a 90-acre solar farm.

The groups claim Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, is violating the state’s municipal land use law. They say the plan would be harmful to the Barnegat Bay watershed.

The groups say the amusement park’s parking lot and buildings would be a more appropriate location for a solar farm.

In a statement, Janet Tauro of Clean Water Action said it’s illogical to destroy the forest to combat climate change.

“Great Adventure’s position that it must destroy the forest to combat climate change is illogical and uninformed,” Janet Tauro, New Jersey board chair of Clean Water Action, said in a prepared statement.

“You don’t kill the earth to save the earth. If a Jackson resident takes down a tree in their own backyard, they have to jump through hoops as the tree removal ordinance is so stringent,” she added, “but Great Adventure plans to clear cut 18,000 trees and the application flies through like greased lightning.”

Six Flags has said the facility would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 24 times what the undisturbed forest is capable of removing on its own. It has also pledged to replant nearly 26,000 trees.

China backtracks on plan to ban people with HIV from baths

China’s Commerce Ministry has begun to back away from a proposal to ban people living with HIV from public bathhouses, according to The Associated Press.

Proposed regulations for public bathhouses released by the ministry for public comment included the ban.

Much of the criticism of the plan has come from other government agencies.

“Over so many years, there has been no epidemiological investigation showing anybody being infected because of exposure in public bathhouses,” said Wu Hao, a Beijing researcher quoted on the website of a national AIDS prevention center overseen by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

“It seems to have gone too far to bar HIV patients from entering baths,” he was quoted as saying.

Days after the proposal was published, an official in the Commerce Ministry was quoted as saying the ban would be removed from the regulations if health experts deemed it unnecessary.

Zhang Beichuan, China’s leading scholar on gay issues, said the Commerce Ministry took a step in the wrong direction by failing to consult health experts.

“Had they ever approached any expert beforehand, they would be told by them that HIV cannot be transmitted through exposure in public bathhouses. The possibility does not exist,” Zhang said, according to The AP report.

Wisconsin Democrat Mary Burke to run for governor

Former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke will run for governor in Wisconsin.

Burke, a Democrat, made the announcement in a Web video released on Oct. 7. She said, “I know that Wisconsin workers can compete with anyone in the world. That’s why when you look around at places like Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio, whose economies are creating more jobs than ours, you wonder what the heck’s going on?”

“Wisconsin ranks 45th out of 50 states in projected job growth. We’re fifth from the bottom. I’m running for governor because we can do better than that. A lot better. But to do it, we’ve got to make some real changes in Madison.”

At Trek, the company her father started in a barn in Waterloo, Burke led strategic planning and was director of European operations. She also has served as Wisconsin’s secretary of commerce.

Progressive groups to rally against corporate ‘takeover’ of Milwaukee schools

A rally to “oppose the takeover of MPS by private companies” will take place today (Sept. 17) at about 4:15 p.m. CST.

The rally is being organized by the Coalition to Oppose the MPS Takeover, a group of local organizations including the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, Voces de la Frontera, Milwaukee NAACP and others.

The event will take place at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce office, 756 N. Milwaukee Ave., Milwaukee. 

A news release announcing the rally said, “The MMAC is an organization of businessmen that wants private companies to take over a large segment of the Milwaukee Public School system. The MMAC wants to pass a state law that would remove dozens of schools from MPS and put them in the hands of private companies. The plan would remove the lowest performing schools in the Milwaukee Public School system from the authority of the democratically elected MPS school board and place them under the control of an appointed individual or board.”

The coalition maintains in the announcement that:

• Twenty years of experience and data prove that giving our public schools to private companies will not produce better outcomes for children. 

• The business people at the MMAC have never asked parents whether they want their schools handed over to privately run companies. They have also not explained to parents at the remaining MPS schools how this plan will financially cripple the district and threaten the existence of all MPS schools, including high-performing MPS schools.

• When public schools are handed over to privately run companies, they do not serve all students. They don’t offer bilingual education, and often “counsel out” students with special needs and/or behavior problems. The mission and purpose of public schools, on the other hand, is to serve and welcome all children.

• Privately run schools are not accountable to parent governance councils or our democratically elected school board. Voter rights and educational accountability are eroded when parents and elected officials have no say over our schools.