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San Clemente Journal

The Downtown Beat by Nina

Nov 30, 2018 03:00PM ● By Nina Welch

The Southswell team, Dylan & Kristen Wolfe, Jason & Christine Collopy.

By NIna Welch

Holiday Fashion on Del Mar

Michelle Alexander, owner of Rascal’s Ladies Boutique.
  Michelle Alexander, owner of Rascal’s Ladies Boutique, loves to say, “We’re Located in the heart of beautiful downtown San Clemente.” She’s lived in San Clemente since she was three and was in the first Kindergarten class at Truman Benedict Elementary School in 1988. She’s owned the business since early last year but has been in the Rascals’ “family” since established in 1994. 
Linda Bowers founded the store and hired Michelle when she was 15. Her co-worker and friend Maria Gmur bought the store in 2006. Michelle is the third owner dedicated to carrying on not only the torch but the philosophies of fashion and customer service. 
  Michelle likes to set an example for young entrepreneurs. “If you’re willing to put in the time, set goals, and treat people well, you will succeed.” She is in a career she loves and feels a responsibility to have a positive impact on everyone who works in her store and walks in the door. Among her devoted employees are her mother, Kathleen McCarthy, and friend Laura Warden.
  Rascal’s offers timeless classics and on-point trends for women in sizes 0 to 16 as well as special orders. Michelle is also a wardrobe stylist and helps women organize their closets, choose outfits, and pack for any type of trip. 
She is married to another San Clemente local, hometown hero Ryan Alexander. Ryan was a San Clemente surfer who joined the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. He suffered traumatic brain injuries in a mine attack northeast of Baghdad. He supports her wholeheartedly as she runs her business and is a stay-at-home-dad to Ryker age seven, and Lillian, age nine. 
  Michelle refers to Rascal’s window displays as her art installations. The Holiday windows are decked out with attire and accessories fitting for a Christmas or New Year’s party. 
Rascal’s sponsors two major trunk show fundraisers each year. This year, a military fundraiser donated 10% of the proceeds to the San Clemente Military Family Outreach and In October, 10% of the trunk show proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. 
Michelle feels a duty as an owner to uphold the brand that Linda Bowers originated and Maria Gmur maintained. When you walk into Rascal’s, you will be greeted with a warm smile and you will know you came to the right place no matter your size or age. 
For more information visit 

Wine Country at the Beach
Jerome Bowman has owned the San Clemente Wine Company for two years.

  A sidewalk blackboard at the outside entrance to the San Clemente Wine Company says: “I just rescued some wine. It was trapped in a bottle.” 
  Jayme and Jerome Bowman have owned this bottle shop and wine bar for two years. In early 2016, they were wine club members enjoying an afternoon at the San Clemente Wine Company when the previous owners mentioned they were thinking retirement. “We decided that a career in the wine business sounded like a dream come true,” says Jerome. 
The Bowman’s goal has been to bring unique wines and fun times to San Clemente. Customers can browse in the bottle shop and even bring a bottle of their choice to the wine bar to be opened and enjoyed on the spot, rescuing wine the quick way.
A wide selection of wine and beer are offered from California, Europe, South America, and beyond. Wine can be ordered by the glass or in flights, along with cheese plates, and charcuterie boards. The shop and wine bar specialize in boutique and hard-to-find wines. These are wines that won’t be found at the grocery store or warehouse stores.  
 The San Clemente Wine Company is the home of one of Orange County’s favorite wine clubs. With over 650 members, wine-lovers enjoy discounts and perks at a reasonable quarterly price including boutique bottles, flight tastings and discounts. Customers and wine club members can also enjoy monthly wine dinners. Jayme and Jerome work with chefs from restaurants along Del Mar and on El Camino Real. A five-course dinner including five wines is expertly prepared and served. Winery owners of the wine served are often present. According to Jerome, the shop is transformed into an elegant occasion with black linen and white China. 
  Jayme and Jerome live in San Clemente with their 11-year-old daughter, Ashland. One of their main hobbies is traveling. They offer excursions out of the wine store. This year, they took the wine club to the wine country on the Rhine in Germany. They will be doing more excursions internationally and domestically. Current and upcoming special events are always listed on the blackboard located in the wine bar.
 Customers can enjoy camaraderie, food, conversation, and, of course, the wine during the holidays and all year long at the San Clemente Wine Company.
For more information visit

Dipping Into the Holidays

The Southswell team, Dylan & Kristen Wolfe, Jason & Christine Collopy.


  Christine and Jason Collopy have owned South Swell on Del Mar for a year and a half. Like an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, this hand-dipped ice cream shop’s décor is black and white with hints of hot pink. Drizzle bottles, topping containers, and gourmet dipping chocolate line the gray and white quartz counters. At the end of the dipping station, South Swell Instagram stories appear on the wall-mounted TV. Customers are greeted with a pink neon “dip me” at the entry. When asked what “dip me” means, Christine, replies “Dip me can mean ice cream or dip me as in dancing. Jason dips me when we dance in the living room or the yard. I think everyone should be dipped.”
  South Swell is a family-oriented business. Christine’s son, Dylan, is the graphic artist, and his wife, Kristen, is the manager. They have fun thinking up names for the bars and floats on road trips, Taco Tuesdays, and bonfires. Jason came up with South Swell for the shop, and Dylan designed the logo. They are both surfers, frequenting the San Clemente Pier. 
The bar selection is the true experience of a South Swell visit. The menu rotates every three weeks with new fun flavors, but there’s always the mainstay classics; a dipped bar naked or with sprinkles or nuts. For the more adventurous sweet-lovers, the favorites are The Dough Boy, vanilla ice cream dipped in gourmet chocolate topped with edible chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter drizzle and The Sweet and Salty, vanilla ice cream dipped in gourmet chocolate, covered in salty pretzel pieces, and salted caramel drizzle.
  Holiday flavors include The Great Pumpkin, The Tipsi Elf, The Snowball, and the Chris-mint. The topping ingredients come from San Clemente bakeries. Black Bird Artisan Pies at the Old City Plaza provides the pies, and Sugar Blossom Bakery, just off Del Mar, provides cakes, cookies and drizzle. The holiday flavors can be enjoyed at the upcoming Puttin’ on the Glitz. In keeping with their family theme, South Swell will repeat their first Glitz happening to welcome the San Clemente community into their “living room.” The comfy setting outside South Swell will include soft rugs, large pillows, a photo booth, and local musicians will perform classic hits.
  South Swell events include birthday parties and weddings. For a list of portable events with their trike and dipping station, visit

Gift Boutique on Del Mar

  Three words people might say as they enter The Warehouse on Del Mar: “Is this Xanadu?” and three words shoppers have been known to say when they leave, “I’ll be back.” 
  Owner Colleen Knottnerus has been a San Clemente resident since 1989. She had a busy life raising three kids, and as a volunteer her entire adult life. Her dedicated energies included being a child advocate for Casa for Children, and she was on the Board of Directors at Laura’s House. When her youngest went off to college, she realized her dream of opening a gift boutique on Del Mar. 
  Colleen’s empty nest became full when her vision of a store with a variety of high-end artisan goods came true. The Warehouse opened on August 4, 2016 with specialty wares including local artists’ creations from Geoff Glenn photography, Chris Justice contemporary art and Melinda Hoffman’s hand-tooled cases and jewelry. Connie Archbold’s hand-made silver art jewelry is also a popular feature. To keep the store stocked with artisanal items from around the world, Colleen goes on buying trips to South Africa, Morocco, Greece, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Prague. 
  During the holidays, The Warehouse features decorative table-top items, entertaining accessories, ornaments, light-trees, and holiday gifts. On the way to a party, a customer can purchase a hostess gift such as one-of-a-kind flat candles, diffusers, glass vases, and cheese plates. Colleen enjoys helping customers with their choices. “For a hostess gift, I might suggest a modern glass vase and have them pick their own flowers.”
A popular corner of the store for the little ones is inhabited by Maileg Mouse by Danish designer Dorthe Mailil. Hand-stitched eyes and hand-knit clothing bring these toys to life. Knit toy animals can also be found there.
  When asked who is her customer, Colleen responds that woman and men anywhere from late 20s on up are frequent visitors. “A lot of men want to have their voice heard on decorating. They enjoy entertaining and cooking, and they come in for unique decorative items for the home.” It looks like a husband-bench outside her store won’t be needed 
Colleen and her manager, Cristina Barnes, are excited for The Warehouse’s third year at Puttin’ on the Glitz. A life size paper-mâché Papa Noel hanging in the window will lead customers to a reception of tea sandwiches, cookies and holiday cheer.  b 

For more information: 112 Avenida Del Mar • (949)388-0027
[email protected] •

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