Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Hi all! Here is the latest article on Sweet XO's project! Can't wait for everyone to see it in person!

New Agoura Hills Shop Aiming for the Sweet Spot

RETAIL: Developer Scott Ehrlich offering an eclectic mix for customers of newest project. By Angela Melero Monday, March 19, 2012
Store: SweetXO opens its doors April in a former Blockbuster Video store aiming to be a neighborhood hot spot.

Store: SweetXO opens its doors April in a former Blockbuster Video store aiming to be a neighborhood hot spot.

SweetXO, a new shop opening next month in Agoura Hills, will combine a yogurt bar, candy store, cupcake stand and gift shop under one roof.

The project’s developer, Scott Ehrlich of Woodland Hills-based InSite Development, is putting a modern twist on a neighborhood five-and-dime store in a bid to lure consumers of all ages to the store with an eclectic mix of sweet treats, apparel, accessories and gift items.

“We wanted to create a place where customers could hang out, shop and have fun,” Ehrlich said.

SweetXO, located at 5825 Kanan Road, will host its grand-opening event April 1. But the developer’s vision for the SweetXO brand extends far beyond Agoura Hills.

“Every step we take is with the intentions to go across the country,” Ehrlich said.

He and his team at InSite Development have a track record for tackling major projects. The company has helped to transform Lancaster’s downtown area into a city gathering place with high-end retail, entertainment, residential and office segments. And several of the businesses on Lancaster Boulevard will be supplying products for SweetXO.

Many small specialty retail stores — even those that have been Valley mainstays for decades — are struggling amid the challenging economy. Competition from big box retailers, coupled with more frugal consumer spending patterns, has put pressure on sales and forced many specialty stores out of business.

But Ehrlich is optimistic about SweetXO, and he has invested about $500,000 in launching the store on the market. “I think this will be a huge success right out the door,” he said.

Rae’s Cup+Cake Bakeshop will supply the cupcakes. And the store will feature a frozen yogurt station with 18 flavors and more than 500 toppings. The bulk candy sold in the store will serve as toppings for the yogurt bar, Ehrlich said.

Zipz Shoes, a tennis shoe line that offers exchangeable tops will sell some footwear. Nothing But Bling Boutique, a shop specializing in selling custom bedazzled apparel, also will be a local supplier for SweetXO. The shop will also include items such as Jonathan Adler stationary, Trina Turk pillows and colorful sleepwear from Mudpie — selected by veteran retail merchandiser Michelle Craig, who assisted with Ehrlich’s downtown Lancaster project.

Ehrlich said he and business partner Rick Gutierrez are using grassroots neighborhood marketing techniques to spread the word on their new project — partnering with local schools, charities and local establishments. SweetXO also is looking to hire about 20 employees, who will be cross-trained to sell food and merchandise.

SweetXO’s wide array of product offerings helps to differentiate it from the other specialty shops on the market, said Craig, whose clients have included retailers such as Anthropologie and Fred Segal.

Patricia Norins, publisher of Specialty Retail Report, said there are three things retailers must take into consideration when launching a new retail concept. First, it must be viable and be in demand. It must also be the right match for its location and have a strong visual display that communicates the brand, she said.

Instead of opting for a spot near a high-end retailer or at local mall, Ehrlich said he selected the location at 5825 Kanan Road, the site of a former Blockbuster store, because it’s a high-traffic area close to a supermarket and Starbucks. The goal is to be a neighborhood hot spot, he said.

As SweetXO prepares for its grand-opening, Ehrlich is already planning another location. He’s scouting locations in Manhattan Beach and expects to open a second store by the end of the year.

As the concept grows, Ehrlich said he would prefer to keep the SweetXO brand a corporate-owned operation, though he’s building in some flexibility to allow for possible franchising.

Despite the challenging retail environment in recent years, Norins said there’s good news for retail entrepreneurs stepping onto the scene.

“There’s a lot more new location opportunities than there used to be,” she said.

Products We Love

For the past 3 months I have been crazy busy buying in order to fill a 5000 sq shop. One must shop non stop to fill it. Not just "fill it" but fill it with amazing things that are fun, bright and not found everywhere! Sweet XO's will have kids merchandise,gift and home decor, women's accessories and apparel, tabletop items and so so much more! All of which I have been scouring the country for! Now that I have a chance to catch my breath I wasn't to show you some of my favorite items! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sweet tooth anyone?

Christmas came and went- my Forge store project has come to a close for now but my work with the investors and owners of Forge is not over...rather just beginning...
The people behind Forge are a group of investors and developers. Forge is a small part of a huge re development project of the city of Lancaster California. The city and the men I have been hired by have taken a 6 lane highway and re developed it in to a 2 lane street filled with shopping, restaurants, a museum and low income housing. It has given Lancaster residents and nearby folks a place to gather, to see a movie to have an ice cream and to just hang out. Its been an amazing project and group of people to have been blessed to be involved with.
Fast forward to today....The same group of guys have decided to open a concept shop in their own backyard of Agoura Hills. A 5,000 sq foot shop/gathering place/party space. A mecca of cupcakes, candy and frozen yogurt with more toppings than you have ever seen. Now cross merchandise that with fun gifts, home decor, apparel and accessories and you have it! You can get your party supplies, grab a gift, get cupcakes on the go with an cute cake plate to serve them on...all in this one stop shop!
Its bright, fun and fresh! Think Jonathon Adler meets Kate Spade mixed with some Trina Turk!
I have been lucky enough to have been hired to do the buying, the decor and the overall set up....I am beyond excited to see it come all together!
I will be posting pictures from the very beginning- so, with that said, here is the first look at Sweet XO's!

Newest project for Birds Eye View! Concept shop combining a sweets and high end gift and home! Think Jonathan Adler meets Kate Spade! Bright, fun and fresh!

Outside of the new project
4,700 Sq foot space

First phase demo! Walls beginning to go up.
Hard walls starting to be built! I love this can start to visualize the space.
View from front door.

'Tis the season to be jolly

I am a Christmas baby...I was born on December 29th. My mom made a huge deal of the holidays. She was a single parent of two so almost everything was handmade....the ornaments, the gingerbread men, the decor and the cards. I was blessed to have my own Martha Stewart. While I don't sew and making things by hand is very difficult for me ( I have the worst ADD- so creating small detailed items make me loose interest) I have learned to have a huge appreciation of all the small details. It is the big picture that drives me and pushes me forward.

By trade I am a merchandiser, I need to see the big picture and I need to see change and progress by the end of each day. So when the holidays approach I get very antsy....I know change, big change is on its way. Each of my stores or showrooms have very different looks and concepts. Concepts that we have put together for months, shopped for and by the time its being delivered to the stores I can hardly contain myself. Its the same feeling I used to get when my mom used to start taking out the boxes of handmade ornaments and decor.
This year we added Forge in Lancaster California. I was brought on to help guide the store in buying, merchandising and the set up fall through Christmas. For Christmas we went with candy and ice cream themes. The holiday bake shop was the most fun to create and buy for. Bake kits for cookies and cute serving dishes to put them on. Everything was bright, fun and merchandised as the one stop shop the hostess gift you needed.
The other was a woodland feel with white feathered owls and tartan ribbons.....chocolates and specialty cocos were placed here...again, easy hostess and teacher favorite detail was the choice to use the champagne flutes in the Christmas trees by tying them on with the tartan ribbon......more out of necessity due to how many we had but ended up being the best part of the display.
Set up for a store this size is a solid week of long long days, but you know what, I live for it...the hours, the excitement to see it finished and to hear the customers feedback and wonder of it all....Its all worth it, and I have my mom to thank for my love and drive of it all things Christmas.

Ice Cream & Cupcake ornaments

Mens window-notice the reclaimed wire spool from a local construction site-great visual piece that went well with the mens vibe!

Bake-shop- aprons, mixing bowls and lots of sweet baking mixes! Cross merchandising to increase sales!

My favorite table top..white feather owls, specialty chocolates with champagne glasses ties to Christmas trees with tartan plaid ribbons.