Archive for December, 2011

The card exchange

December 27th, 2011

Some of the cards being offered at Gift Card Granny.

Was Santa good to you?

New kinds of days keep emerging around Christmas season to help retailers move products, but Gift Card Exchange Day is one of the few to help consumers move their unwanted gift cards.

Returns and exchanges once applied to physical goods, but with gift card sales hitting $100 billion, chances are the same qualms apply. While appreciative of the gifts and blessings that come our way, all the good wishes won’t erase the reality that some retailers just don’t suit your style, or maybe you turned vegan in the last year, but your aunt remembers your steakhouse-frequenting past life.

Gift Card Exchange Day is actually the day after Christmas, but if you were too overwhelmed to do anything that day, you can still head to to get the ball rolling.

At the site, you can enter the merchant name and denomination on the unwanted card to receive cash bids from gift card resellers. The highest rates paid are the day after Christmas. Cards from such popular retailers selling necessities, i.e. gas stations, Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Safeway will get you 92 percent of the card’s value. For other retailers, you’ll generally get back 75 percent of the value of the card, so a $50 card is likely to net you about $37.50.

The site also includes links and phone numbers where you can check on the balances of the cards you have.

You can also shop for gift cards at a 6 to 23 percent discount (they even do the math for the math-challenged, so you know where the biggest savings are) off their face value, mostly through eBay auctions that the site can link you to.

If you’re not sure you can trust the average eBayer, here are other sites to check out. The savings may not be as great, but you’ll have peace of mind that the card will arrive at the stated value:

For those who frequent just a few favorite stores, buying cards at a discount is one way of making sure you can shop at sale prices through the year, even when there’s no sale going on.

The Best EVER!!! party

December 21st, 2011

Nadine Kam photos
Supercw Christa Wittmier, center, shared the spotlight on her birthday with designer Matt Bruening. They’re joined by, from left, Andy South, Oz Go, Tina Viernes and Sydney Coelho.

When most people celebrate their birthdays, they might expect, oh, a couple dozen people to show up. When Christa Wittmier celebrates her birthday, hundreds show up, so when I didn’t know exactly where the venue was—in the vicinity of Coral and Auahi streets, I just figured I’d drive around the block and look for the commotion.

Of course it was easy to spot the night-lifers walking toward the a tent and warehouse at 683 Auahi, where I found parking just in time to take in Matt Bruening’s Spring 2012 PVNVH fashion show.

As befitting the fundraiser for the international Pow Wow Hawai’i art show coming next year, presents The Best EVER!!! welcomed emerging and veteran DJs, artists and all-around creatives for one big, high-wattage party to match the birthday girl’s outsize personality.

The last time I saw a show by Matt was also at a birthday party for Christa when we were all standing around in the dark. This time was more formal, with runway seating on the floor for the parade of 26 ensembles in Matt’s draped, fluid style, with a few surprises thrown in. For now, those interested in any of the pieces can look for updates through at, follow him on Twitter @mattbruening or email him at

What was funny was that I didn’t know Matt has a twin, Micah, so when I saw Micah roaming around before the show, I wondered why Matt wasn’t backstage fussing and worrying, as designers do. I tried to say hello, but of course Micah doesn’t know me, so he walked by. Still thinking he was Matt, I figured he had a lot on his mind, so it’s always better to catch up after the show, which is when I saw the two together. That’s when you can see how they look different, but nevertheless, all the photographers were marveling at the strong resemblance.

Some of his more nomadic pieces were accompanied by luxurious fur bags by fellow designer Farida Ong. Afterward, I cornered her to make sure she has pink bags coming for spring. She’s working on them right now!

Now that it’s the holidays, a lot of models are home, whether back from school or back to visit family, and one of Matt’s models was a homecoming Courtney Arndt, who drew cheers when she appeared, from all those who’ve missed her local runway, print and television presence.

Zippers, asymmetry and parachute draping went into this edgy take on the LBD.

Matt has tended to favor a dark palette of black, gray, navy and gray-blues, but this time around, he added a creamy white in a romantic draped and off-the-shoulder dress.

Courtney Arndt, back from the mainland, made her return to the local runway, which brought on a lot of cheering.

Non-flash video link

After the show, Matt posed for photos with model Kelsey Campbell.

David Crans and accessories designer Farida Ong.

Front row denizens Crystal Pancipanci, photographer Harold Julian and Juliet Lighter.

Kylie Cunningham and Maida Montemayor, the stylish founder of Collins and 8th.