'Mean Girls' latest Sears fashion stabber

Tribune staff reporter

For the second time this year, Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s fashion sensibility is a punch line in a major motion picture.

This time it's "Mean Girls," starring Lindsay Lohan, that's picking on the Hoffman Estates-based department store chain. Earlier this year, "Welcome to Mooseport," starring Ray Romano and Gene Hackman, took a crack at Sears' lingerie lines.

In a scene in "Mean Girls," No. 2 at the box office last weekend, the school's most popular back-stabber can no longer squeeze into her usual size 5 at her favorite boutique.

"You can try Sears," the saleswoman suggests.

In reality, Sears does carry junior sizes starting at size 3, spokeswoman Lee Antonio said.

"For teens and juniors, we have a terrific selection of trend-right apparel," including the latest fashions in denims, tops, belts, bags and shoes, she said. "It's head-to-toe dressing."

Antonio guesses that Sears is such a part of Americana that screenwriters almost default to it when penning dialogue.

But maybe that's due to change. Last month, Sears announced that it has hired Norm Marshall & Associates Inc. of Los Angeles to help it look for film and TV projects that would polish Sears' image and drive business.

Other department store chains are having success tapping into movies. Bloomingdale's is featured in "13 Going on 30," and Saks Fifth Avenue will appear in Disney's coming "Shopgirl," Promo magazine reports.

Expansion wrinkles: PureBeauty Inc. recently opened its third beauty products store in the Chicago area, at Diversey Parkway and Clark Street in Lincoln Park.

The Chicago rollout has unfolded more slowly than the Encino, Calif., company initially planned.

Early on it hoped to have six stores in the area by year-end 2003; then it announced plans for seven by year-end 2004, but "leases take time to get done," PureBeauty founder and Chief Executive Brett Saevitzon said last week.

PureBeauty opened its first area store in November at Main Street Promenade in downtown Naperville. A second store followed in Chicago in February at 1841 N. Clybourn Ave.

In September it will open a store in Algonquin in Algonquin Commons.

Plans to open in the Old Republic Building on Michigan Avenue, not far from the new Hard Rock Hotel, fell through, but PureBeauty is "actively looking in downtown Chicago, in the financial district," Saevitzon said.

Still on PureBeauty's wish list are Geneva and Schaumburg, where it has looked at Streets of Woodfield.

PureBeauty now is saying it would like to have 10 to 12 stores here by year-end 2005. Results in the market have been "outstanding," Saevitzon said.

PureBeauty has about 60 locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Illinois.

It will open four stores in Washington, D.C., in July.

Each store includes a salon and carries about 5,000 products, including such brands as Phyto and Dermalogica.

Backed by Boston-based investment firm Heritage Partners Inc., PureBeauty was founded five years ago by Saevitzon, former chief financial officer at Los Angeles-based Freeman Cosmetic Corp. Freeman was sold in 1998 to Dial Corp.


E-mail byerak@tribune.com.

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