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Phoebe Cates, sittin' in Blue Tree [Mar. 22nd, 2006|10:50 pm]
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Phoebe Cates, sittin' in Blue Tree

Phoebe Cates knows what's in store.

Since becoming a full-time shopkeeper last fall with the opening of her uptown gift shop, Blue Tree, the actress and mother of two is equally at home behind a cash register as on a movie set. In fact, since her last movie was 2001's The Anniversary Party, which she did for her best friend, Jennifer Jason Leigh, perhaps the register is more to her liking.

"I always wanted to have a general store," she says. "If I could have had a photo booth and sold candy, I would have."

She is among a handful of celebrities who are opening boutiques. While Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani venture into clothing design, other stars, such as Cates and Lisa Rinna, who owns two shops in the L.A. area, are trying out retail.

Cates' shop carries hot cocoa and ruby slippers downstairs, upscale shawls and dresses on the second floor. The red sequined Mary Janes by Coastal Projections, Cates says, are a $55 ode to her daughter Greta, now 12: "That was the only shoe she would wear (as a child). She'd always go, 'Toto shoes!' " Cates says with a laugh.

Blue Tree is part local cottage, where kids play with tops and stuffed animals, and part hushed boutique, where Upper East Side ladies can purchase a green cashmere Mina Poe cardigan for $3,500 or a black linen jacket by Heike Jarick for $900.

"I feel really strongly that if people spend a lot of money on something, they shouldn't see it on 400 other people," Cates says.

Cates, who has been married to actor Kevin Kline for 17 years, seems as if she hasn't aged a day since she drove Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold) into a steamy frenzy as ripe siren Linda Barrett in 1982's Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At 42, her body is trim, her face unlined and makeup-free, her black hair straight around her shoulders with only the faintest hint of gray.

With Greta and (The Squid and the Whale star) son Owen, 14, in neighborhood schools, Cates works at the store until 2 p.m. daily because "it fits into my lifestyle." She hits gift shows to pick out items herself. Sometimes vendors or designers contact her; other times she stumbles onto antique costume jewelry, say, at a flea market or thrift store.

"Being true to who I am is more important than some sophisticated buying plan," she says, picking up a mushroom-shaped dish scrubber.

Today, she rushes in from a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her daughter's class, asking whether a specific piece of chocolate inventory has arrived.

Some shoppers stare at her in recognition, but "usually they know" that she owns the store and aren't surprised to see her at the register, Cates says. "Or if they don't, they tell me I look like Phoebe Cates, and I say, 'I get that a lot.' "

Her husband came up with the store's name. "It's a gentle reference to the blue trees in the Fauvist paintings. It's the idea that this is not a natural thing to find in this neighborhood."

[User Picture]From: cora_stacy
2006-03-23 12:55 pm (UTC)
hmmmm I'm going to New york in may- might have to do some shoppin!
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