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Shop Local Gift Guide: At Tempe's Divaz Boutique, a Mini Department Store with a Personal Touch

Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 14:11

Divaz 1

Ryan A. Ruiz

Co-owner Andrea Reiss inside Divaz Boutique in Tempe Marketplace.

Divas 2

Ryan A. Ruiz

Gift idea 1: Lotus necklackes, 14k gold letter pendants, $34

Divaz 3

Ryan A. Ruiz

Gift idea 2: Tyler candles, reeds, $2.75-$40

Divaz Boutique

2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.966.7467

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Additional location at 516 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe


The store has only been open 15 minutes, and already Divaz co-owner Andrea Reiss is helping a customer solve a fashion emergency. The customer is going to meet her boyfriend's family for the first time; she needs something conservative, but something that still represents her accurately.

Reiss sets to work, showing the customer a wide range of tops – sweaters and blouses – in an assortment of styles and colors. It's amazing, within the confines of the Tempe Marketplace clothing and accessories boutique, the variety of options she finds.

"We're all about customer service," Reiss said. "We take it very seriously. If someone is not happy in our store, we make every effort to make sure we fix that."

Indeed, Divaz is a bit of an anomally, a locally-owned clothing and accessory boutique that has succeeded in Tempe for more than a decade. Divaz location on Mill Avenue, owned by Kristie Moore, has been open 12 years, the location at Tempe Marketplace has been opened for 5 years.

Divaz carries jeans, tops, dresses, gift items, jewelry and a selection of "fix-it" items that prevent shoppers from having to run to a place like Target for those little need-to-have items for certain looks – think double-sided tape, Spanx body shapers, bra cups to go with strapless dresses, that kind of thing.

"We like to think of ourselves as a little department store," Reiss said.

Reiss said she and her partners are constantly watching fashion trends at major shows in Paris, Milan and New York. Then they search to find pieces at places like Los Angeles Fashion Market, the five-times-a-year clothing marketplace in Los Angeles at California Market Center and on side-trips.

New items come into the store almost daily, though.

Reiss said they look for pieces with similar styles and comparable quality to high-end designer items but available at a lower cost, so that they can sell stylish pieces at affordable prices. Items range tops as low as $10, to dress and designer jeans in the $100+ range.

A sale rack up front, featuring unique items at a discount, is refreshed every one to two weeks.

The store has a modern feel, too, with unique decorating touches, including two trees which items hang from, and open, high ceilings. The displays and layout of the store changes frequently, Reiss said, to showcase new items routinely and to keep the look fresh.

Among Reiss's favorite gift ideas in the store this year are Lotus Necklaces. The 14-karat gold letter necklaces have become increasingly popular this year. Originally, the store only carried costume-jewelry quality letter necklaces, but when she and her associates noticed how fast the $8 items were selling, they opted to see how customers would respond to real gold versions.

They're selling like crazy, Reiss said, with the popular letters – think the main "Wheel of Fortune" letters – having waiting lists. So, if you're planning on buying one of these for someone special in your life, you might want to hop on it early.

Another popular gift item this year, Reiss said, are candles from the Tyler Candle Company. The Tyler, Texas-based manufacturer offers candles in a variety of scents, including seasonal ones like candy cane, and sizes, ranging from 3.4 ounces to 22 ounces. The 3.4 ounce candles, which sell for $8, burn for 25 hours. Tyler also offers diffusers, reeds and air fresheners.

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