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2010 SAN DIEGO NEWSMAKERS: Shopping & Retail

Who would have thought 2010 would be the year of brave new small business owners. Women and men who looked past the business pages and into their souls for the passion and fearlessness it would take to open a clothing store.
Melero Boutique and Gallery.
Photo by Rebekah Sager

I’ve been impressed again and again with the ingenuity these people give to luring San Diegan’s away from the malls and into small independent stores where they may not find sales often, but they’re sure to get great service and unique designers. Here are my Top 10 picks for San Diego's best boutiques:


10. Tootsies: Two sisters and one daughter/niece open the first “affordable and adorable” shoe store in the tony village of La Jolla. Following in the footsteps of the original Tootsies owner, Nina Dake, it’s a “friendchise” not a franchise, and these women seem to understand and appreciate the complicated and loving relationship women have with shopping for shoes, especially well-priced shoes.

9. Kyss: Owing the success of the store to its blessing by a Universal priestess, good luck, or great location, this shop gives suburban Carlsbad folk a mall alternative like no other. Whether you need a great LBD or quick, cute tee and jeans, Kyss has it all.

8. Kerut: Taking a chance after working her magic in the high-end concept J. Crew store in Aspen called Black Label, owner Lauren Turek (Kerut is her last name spelled backward) describes her store as “1950s Palm Springs meets Morocco, meets Nantucket.” It’s not resort wear, but you’ll feel like finding somewhere great to go after buying one her unique outfits.

7. Chillers Showroom: Young, fresh, and manned by cute SD surfer-dude Eric Blumenthal, Chillers is located on Cass Street in Pacific Beach--a class act of cool hip clothing among a sea of touristy and tacky junk shops.

6. Mimi & Red: Moving from it’s very profitable spot in North Park to a riskier spot in La Jolla, the two women who own this store keep their fingers on the pulse of trends for moms and their daughters, making sure to maintain great prices no woman can resist.

5. HIS: Sadly, boutique’s for men are few and far between. Men are tried and true department store shoppers. Somehow, this manly store along Cedros in Solana Beach has made a name for itself. Catering to both young and old, surfer, and sufer-look wannabes, HIS offers cool men’s looks at reasonable prices.

4. Rufskin: Just as we thought there was no place for the outrageous guy to shop…in comes Rufskin in North Park to save the cute butts of well built SD guys. With zippers and rivets in all the right places, the only thing missing is a women’s line. Custom leather hats, jackets, pants, and vests are available in a variety of colors and the sportswear line has taken off.

3. Molly B. Bikini’s: The pain of trying to find a well fitting bikini is up there with cleaning the toilet for most women. When we find one that fits and makes us look as good as possible, we always say we should have bought enough to last us a lifetime. Molly B. offers a variety of options and best of all, she can knock off our favorites in cool new fabrics—a novel invention.

2. Bixby & Ball: Two best friends get together and open a gift and bedding store in a little house on Cedros built in 1924--nothing but straight up adorable. Offering gifts, bedding, books, and jewelry the owners seem to understand that in order to make it, they’re going to have to create a niche, so they come up with ways to re-define decorating for a customer’s lifestyle and teach everyone who walks through the door how to achieve the perfect look—smart cookies.

And the number-one favorite clothing boutique of 2010 is...

1. Melero Boutique and Gallery: Celebrating their one-year anniversary, this store has some of the best dresses in town. Located in the heart of Little Italy, in the historic Pray House, this charming and very high-end boutique meshes Euro flair with the owner Ruth Melero’s Mexican zest. This is one of the few boutiques that keep customers coming back with great sales and the hottest from swimwear to cashmere. Bar none this little charmer is one of the hardest new boutiques to walk out of empty handed.








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