Biz buzz: Smiles for sale

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August 17, 2009 // UPDATED 8:38 am - August 17, 2009
By: Jake Weyer, Tara Bannow and Elizabeth Sias
Jake Weyer, Tara Bannow and Elizabeth Sias
// Smile Network opens retail location to benefit children with facial deformities //


Global nonprofit humanitarian organization Smile Network International recently opened a Downtown retail location to sell art and gifts for the benefit of children in developing countries born with facial deformities.

The 211 N. 1st St. store will feature works from a rotation of artists. On display now are more than 1,200 paintings from American abstract expressionist Gino Hollander.

The Smile Network, which has surgical sites throughout the globe that offer free repair of such deformities as cleft lips and palates, hopes the ongoing art program boosts its revenue and services.  

“A lot of this been birthed out of recent changes in the economy,” said Smile Network International founder Kim Valentini. “This is really a difficult time for people across the board and nonprofits as well. About a year ago our board of directors identified that expanding into retail and art would be another revenue stream for Smile Network.”

The organization plans to purchase art from around the world at fair-market value and resell it at various locations in the U.S. A grand opening for the Downtown store is planned for Sept. 19 from 6–10 p.m. and will feature works from Hollander, jewelry designer Suzanna Galanis and local interior designer Greg Walsh.

For more information on Smile Network International, go to smilenetwork.org.

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Despite Loring Park’s heavy traffic, many passersby don’t notice the area’s newest business. That’s because the Loring Alley Bazaar, an antique mall that sells antiques, art, jewelry, vinyl, vintage clothing, books and other oddities, is tucked back in an alley. Located in Loring Corners, 1624 Harmon Place, between Café Lurcat and Joe’s Garage, the Bazaar is open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., on the second and fourth weekends of each month.

The space, which used to house a frame store, was vacant for a while before its owners opened the antique mall in late June. What used to be a loading dock in front now has palm trees, chairs and live music.

“We’re trying to create something out on the alley that is kind of interesting in the summer months,” said Jefferson Blakeslee, the building’s leasing agent.

Despite the store’s unfortunate location, Blakeslee said those who have been inside love it.

“There’s not a lot of things like it around here,” he said.

The Loring Alley Bazaar will be open through fall and possibly into winter, depending on how things go. New vendors are welcome. For more information, call Blakeslee at 735-3445.

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New nightlife venue Club New York hosted a grand opening Aug. 8 at its freshly remodeled space in the Lumber Exchange building, 10 S. 5th St.

The upscale dance club features live DJs, theatrical lighting, two bars, oversized VIP seating and VIP balconies overlooking the dance floor, according to a press release about the opening. The release said the club brings some “Big Apple swagger to Minneapolis nightlife.”

Club New York will open at 10 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday.  Go to clubnympls.com or call 332-7440 for more information.

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Throughout 2009, the Oceanaire Seafood Room is offering select three-course meals and wines for $20.10 to celebrate 2010 and the prospect of an economic upswing.

The deals come after the seafood chain filed for bankruptcy in early July, resulting in the closure of several of its restaurants. The Minneapolis location is still open.

The “Here’s to 2010!” menu is available all night on Sunday and Monday throughout the end of the year. Meals include soup, salad and an entrée, with dishes changing throughout the summer based on the availability of fresh seafood.

“The theme for us there is raising the glasses, not the price,” said Steve Uhl, general manager of the Minneapolis Oceanaire Seafood Room at 1300 Nicollet Ave. “It’s another opportunity for people who are dining out and are looking for a value. Twenty dollars and 10 cents gets you a cup of soup, a salad, a five-ounce piece of protein, a vegetable and a starch.”

One three-course meal example is Manhattan clam chowder, mixed green salad and chili-rubbed mahi-mahi served with crispy fried shrimp, pico de gallo, Mexican rice and a tortilla.

Uhl said the deal has helped business, increasing foot traffic by 40 to 80 customers on Sundays and Mondays.

The restaurant will also select one red wine and one white wine every week to sell for $20.10 per bottle from 5 p.m. to close each night.