Category Archives: Las Vegas Shopping

Austin “Chumlee” Russell’s Candy Shop Opens at Pawn Plaza in Downtown Las Vegas

Austin “Chumlee” Russell, one of the stars of the Las Vegas-based “Pawn Stars” reality series, has opened a new candy store, Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard.

The candy shop is located in Pawn Plaza, a shopping complex adjacent to the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made, y’know, world famous, on “Pawn Stars.”

During our recent visit, Chumlee himself was greeting fans at the shop and said he expects to do so often.

Chumlee candy shop

Chumlee’s candy shop features classics like Turkish Taffy, Astro Pops and Niklnips, at least one of which sounds like a stripper name.

The shop is co-owned by Chumlee and his brother, Sage Russell.

Chumlee’s candy shop is diminutive, as it inhabits a shipping container, but has a solid collection of sweets, including many retro candies sure to strike a nostalgic chord with guests.

The candy selection reflects Chumlee’s personal favorites such as Bottle Caps and Razzles.

Chumlee candy shop

It seems somebody’s lollipop has delusions of grandeur.

The prices are a tad on the steep side, so don’t think of it as “candy,” per se. The candy is just an excuse to rub elbows with a reality TV star. They aren’t candy cigarettes, they’re “Pawn Stars” mementos, emphasis on the Mentos. Which we don’t recall seeing at the shop, but just play along.

Oh, that’s right, we went for the candy cigarettes ($2). We also snagged SweeTarts ($2.75, deep breaths), Red Vines ($2.45), Pop Rocks ($1.85) and candy buttons ($1.97).

Chumlee candy on the boulevard

Don’t judge us. It’s Las Vegas.

Chumlee and his brother Sage were helpful and friendly, indulging requests for autographs and selfies.

Our receipt said “Cashier: Austin Russell,” but his brother was actually the one pulling cashier duty.

There was a short line outside the shop during our visit, mainly because the store can only accommodate six guests at a time.

The shop is open noon to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).

Chumlee candy shop

The “Boulevard” in the name is Las Vegas Boulevard, the most glorious of all thoroughfares.

Pawn Plaza has had quite a bit of turnover in recent months, so it’s gratifying to see another new tenant in place.

We quite like the nearby Jared’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers, as one does not live by candy buttons alone.

Here’s hoping Chumlee and his brother can make a go of Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard. It’s unknown if “Pawn Stars” will be picked up by the History network for a 15th season, so it’s an ideal time for the show’s stars to explore other ventures.

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Slick Video Marquee Unveiled Outside Forum Shops

An impressive new vertical video marquee has been unveiled outside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

We wouldn’t typically share such news, except for the fact it’s a stunner.

Forum Shops marquee

If you’re looking for a free “show” on The Strip, you might try this new eye candy at the Forum Shops.

While we can’t be sure of the technical specs of the new marquee, we can share some video. We think you’ll agree the graphics are eye-popping.

The new, 80-foot-tall video marquee has a healthy selection of animated segments, and surprisingly few are marketing messages.

The sequences feature creative uses of the Ultra High-Definition (4K) screen with custom 3-D effects.

The company behind the screen is called Acquire Digital. Check out their blog post about this and other screens at Forum Shops.

Come to find out, one of the reasons the video is so distinctive is it was created by Moment Factory, a major player in multi-media and video entertainment. Moment Factory did the video elements for Celine’s production at Caesars, as well as two of the light shows at Fremont Street Experience (Imagine Dragons and Tiesto). Take a look.

You can find the new marquee near the replica of the Trevi fountain at the Forum Shops, between Caesars Palace and Mirage.

Why, here’s the Trevi fountain now.

Trevi fountain Las Vegas

Fun fact: Trevi restaurant inside the Forum Shops is nowhere near the Trevi fountain.

We love shiny new things, and the video display outside the Forum Shops certainly qualifies.

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Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts Three New Venues: Redneck Riviera, Born and Raised, Giordano’s

There’s been a flurry of activity at Grand Bazaar Shops outside Bally’s Las Vegas in recent months, including the unveiling of three shiny new venues: Giordano’s, Redneck Riviera and the newest offering, Born and Raised.

It’s time to explore these new venues as only we can—superficially, and with generous amounts of snark so we don’t fall asleep at the keyboard.

First up is Redneck Riviera. Redneck Riviera is a country bar, founded by John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich.

Redneck Riviera

We are not a country music person, so we honestly wouldn’t recognize a Big & Rich song if it were stapled to our forehead.

Redneck Riviera is billed as “a Vegas experience like none-other.” No, they actually say that, in writing. What makes Redneck Riviera so different? “Great music, great drinks, great people!” We are not making this up.

If you want to stand out from other bars in Las Vegas, you have to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else, and you certainly can’t find great music, great drinks or great people, so Rednect Riviera is pretty much guaranteed to succeed.

Hey, we warned you about the snark.

Redneck Riviera

You know, just the typical Las Vegas marketing strategy of having young women stand on barrels.

Beyond the country music and any number of white people attempting to dance, Redneck Riviera also has some great decorative touches.

First, there’s a saddle-shaped disco ball over the dance floor.

Redneck Riviera

It’s like the love child of John Wayne and Liberace. Millennial translation: Oh, nevermind.

There’s also an American flag fashioned from beer cans over one of the establishment’s two bars.

Redneck Riviera

‘Merica.

In the men’s room, you’ll find urinals made from beer kegs. They’re so cool, we’re tempted to listen to a portion of a country song.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

This is going directly to the top of our list of offbeat Las Vegas photo ops.

Also in the restroom are sinks made from tires. The faucets are gas pumps. Seriously charming.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

You’re welcome, Asian tour groups.

One of the best selling points of Redneck Riviera is it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.

The vibe is casual and often rowdy, the staff is friendly, and Redneck Riviera serves a niche clientele likely to stray from Toby Keith’s restaurant at Harrah’s and Gilley’s at Treasure Island to give this new honky-tonk hangout a try.

Next, we move to Born and Raised.

Born and Raised is an offshoot of an existing, locally-owned bar and pub. Named Born and Raised. Please try and keep up.

Born and Raised

St. Paddy’s Day seemed a good day to visit, hoochwise.

Born and Raised at Grand Bazaar Shops is technically named “Born and Raised CRAFT PUB.” Seriously. The “craft pub” is capitalized in all the media and marketing materials.

It’s as if Born and Raised suddenly contracted Tourette Syndrome.

Born and Raised has a tiny footprint, even by Grand Bazaar Shops standards. The bar has seating for about 14 people inside, with another 12 seats just outside.

Born and Raised

Born and Raised is so small you could fit it in your pocket. But don’t. That’s shoplifting.

While other Born and Raised locations in Las Vegas serve food, the Grand Bazaar Shops outpost does not. Which is probably for the best, as we recently had our first encounter with Born and Raised’s food, and it fell firmly into the “Meh” category.

Yes, “Meh” is a category. Other categories include “Mind-Blowing” (Pizza Rock, downtown), “Forgettable” (Beerhaus at The Park), “Regrettable” (The Still at Mirage) and “It’ll Do in a Pinch, Especially If We’re Wasted” (everywhere else on The Strip).

Born and Raised

We look forward to getting to know each and every Born and Raised cocktail personally.

Born and Raised offers a menu of signature cocktails, each runs $13. There is also beer, although we have never personally had a beer, so we aren’t able to comment upon the breadth or quality of the selection.

Finally, we get all up inside Giordano’s.

Giordano’s is a name that may sound familiar. The chain is known for its Chicago-style stuffed deep dish pizza.

Giordano's Las Vegas

Giordano’s sits astride a Starbucks that once announced it would serve liquor. Never happened, to our chagrin, whatever a “chagrin” might actually be.

Giordano’s has gone malls deep into Grand Bazaar Shops, with what amounts to three locations. There’s the second floor main restaurant, another dining area and bar on the ground level (fancifully called the Grand Allee walkway), and there’s also a walk-up window.

Giordano's Grand Bazaar Shops

The Giordano surname has its roots in “Yarden,” the Hebrew name of the Jordan river. Yes, we have exhausted our supply of photo captions.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it, Giordano’s is disappointing on any number of levels.

First, the wait time if you order pizza is agonizing. It took nearly an hour to get our simple cheese pizza, and the restaurant was pretty much empty.

During our wait, staff was sweeping up and mopping, one of our biggest pet peeves in any restaurant. (We were there two hours before closing time, but it was obvious employees were champing at the bit to close up shop.) Adding to the unpleasantness of our visit, staff members were moving chairs around the dining room not by lifting them, but by dragging them, lending the restaurant roughly the same welcoming ambiance as a smoke detector testing facility.

Giordano's Las Vegas

We predict only one of the Giordano’s spaces will survive. It’s anybody’s guess which.

It was only after our pizza arrived that the WTF began in earnest.

Stuffed pizza isn’t actually pizza, it turns out. It’s 14 pounds of melted cheese ladled onto a flaky, flavorless crust. A layer of sauce sits on the cheese, clearly embarrassed to be part of such a bastardization of the world’s greatest food.

Giordano's pizza

Fun fact: The word “no” is the same in English and Italian. Apply liberally at Giordano’s.

We’d love to say we’ll be back to try the thin crust pizza at Giordano’s, but why would we when there are so many other, far-more-worthy pizza offerings in the neighborhood? We’d hit Pin-Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood, Martorano’s at Paris or The Pizzeria (also known as “Secret Pizza”) at Cosmopolitan 100 times before doing Giordano’s again.

Sorry, but pizza is serious business, and what they serve at Giordano’s barely qualifies. It’s more like fondue, although that’s probably doing a disservice to fondue.

Here’s a better look at the Giordano’s menu, and here’s the pizza menu, because you wisely don’t blindly trust the opinion of blogs when it comes to pies.

If you love Giordano’s, we love hearing differing viewpoints. Or at least pretend to.

Giordano's Las Vegas

When it doubt, margarita.

It’s great to see Grand Bazaar Shops bringing in new talent. The mall seems to churn through tenants (mall management would owe harsh penalties to Caesars Entertainment, owners of Bally’s, if Grand Bazaar Shops falls below a certain percentage of occupancy), but a few successful bars and restaurants could give some of the millions of people who walk by each year a reason to stop.

It was recently announced Philly Pretzel Factory is coming to Grand Bazaar Shops later in the year. We’re struggling to contain our excitement.

Our friends at Eater Vegas say another restaurant will open across from Giordano’s patio bar, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. We’ve tried it, and we’re filing that one in the “Forgettable” category, too.

Hey, not everything’s going to stick. Only time will tell which venues will thrive or expire. In Vegas, change is always on the menu.

Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts New Venues

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Checking In On the Construction at Wynn Plaza

It’s tough to get too riled up about shopping, but since this particular shopping is coming to Wynn Las Vegas, it’s tough to ignore.

We popped in to see what’s up at Wynn Plaza, a $54 million retail center that sits in front of one of the best-known resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Wynn Las Vegas. Please try and keep up.

Wynn Plaza

Fun fact: Steve Wynn once accidentally shot off his index finger with a handgun.

There’s been a lot of progress since we first reported on the project in Sep. 2016.

The new shopping complex is expected to add 75,000-square-feet of luxury retail space to Wynn Las Vegas. Square feet are, of course, one of the most popular kinds of feet in Las Vegas. For the other kind, you pay extra.

Wynn Plaza Las Vegas

Another fun fact: Steve Wynn once put his elbow through a $155 million painting, “Le Reve.” Wynn purchased the painting for a mere $48 million in 1997.

Wynn Plaza brings the resort’s footprint right down to Las Vegas Boulevard and will generate revenue from previously unused space, as well as giving the shopping center just across the street, Fashion Show, a run for its money.

Wynn Plaza is expected to debut by the end of 2017.

Wynn Plaza

The exterior of Wynn Plaza is already starting to take shape. Hey, some facts aren’t “fun,” they’re just facts.

Interestingly, Wynn Resorts recently sold about half of its interest in Wynn Plaza, and other retail space at Wynn and its sister resort, Encore, to Crown Acquisitions for $472 million. Wynn already got $292 million and will receive another $180 million when construction of Wynn Plaza is complete.

Shopping is big business in Las Vegas, as well as being incredibly boring.

Several shopping malls in Vegas have changed hands in the last year, including Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood being sold to Institutional Mall Investors and Crystals at City Center being sold to Invesco Real Estate and Simon Property Group. The latter deal was for $1.1 billion. That’s a lot of handbags and shoes normal people can’t begin to afford.

Wynn Plaza

Oh, all right, one more fun fact: Steve Wynn’s real last name is Weinberg.

On a less boring note, Wynn Plaza is likely to have not only high-end retail shops, but also new
restaurant and bar options, and we’re always up for more that.

More construction porn ahead! Enjoy.

Wynn Plaza Update: Feb. 20, 2017

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Bonanza Gift Shop Sold for Whopping $50 Million

The long, winding, sometimes WTF saga of the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Gift Shop” continues with news the Bonanza Gift Shop has been sold for $50 million.

The massive gift shop sits at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Ave.

Bonanza Gift Shop

It’s on a sign, so it must be true.

A couple of years ago, there were rumors the Bonanza Gift Shop would be sold and closed. We should know because we started them.

In 2015, records showed the property actually was sold, but it’s a little unclear who bought what. The building? The land it sits on? Welcome to the sometimes murky world of Las Vegas real estate.

Now, though, records show the Bonanza Gift Shop was definitely sold to Haim Gabay, a Las Vegas businessman.

Bonanza Gift Shop

That’s a lot of gift shop.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gabay purchased the gift shop, in part, with proceeds from a sale of two retail shops on Fremont Street. The shops were acquired by Derek Stevens for $13.5 million, and will become part of a new resort currently called 18 Fremont. Read more.

The balance of Gabay’s purchase was in the form of a $25 million bank loan and a $10 million loan floated by the sellers.

Bonanza Gift Shop

Ah, the memories. Sadly, this clever sign was changed the last time the gift shop changed hands.

For the time being, it appears the Bonanza Gift Shop will stay open, so Las Vegas visitors will continue to have a source for their dice clocks, shot glasses and tchotchkes, a word we have to look up every time we write a story about the Bonanza Gift Shop.

Which is pretty farkakte. A word, we should mention, we’ve never seen written out until right this second.

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The Pub, Street of Dreams and Pool Close at Monte Carlo to Make Way for Park MGM

The transition of Monte Carlo to Park MGM has begun in earnest with the closing of The Pub, the hotel’s pool and Street of Dreams shopping promenade.

Monte Carlo Street of Dreams

Break out the Kleenex! And not for the usual reason you break out Kleenex when you’re on the Internet, perv.

Naturally, we poked our nose in to check on the progress of the rebrand.

The Street of Dreams shopping area was eerily quiet, although lots of guests still walk through the rows of closed shops on their way to the tram for Aria and Bellagio.

Monte Carlo shops closed

It’s like “The Omega Man.” (Millennial translation: It’s like “I Am Legend.”)

Yes, all the shops in the Street of Dreams have left the building, including Starbucks and the Big Chill Bar, at least one of those we wish we’d have gotten a slushy drink from, because slushy drinks.

Monte Carlo shops closed

These two weren’t the best roommates, anyway.

Here’s a little walk-through of the closed Street of Dreams. Yes, we refer to it as the “Field of Dreams” at one point. We didn’t say all the liquor options at Monte Carlo had closed, did we?

By far, our favorite closure is that of a gift shop called MC Essentials, mainly because irony is the birth canal whence we were spawned. Or something.

Monte Carlo shops closed

Define “essential.”

For many, the closing of The Pub is the most bittersweet element of the changes going on at Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, capturing photos of The Pub would have involved a security breach, so we can’t share any here.

The Pub closed

You. Are so. Gullible.

Here’s another photo, just to ensure you have time to bid farewell to a beloved Las Vegas watering hole. A watering hole, we should add, which will always occupy a special place in our heart because that’s where we met and hung out for hours with the members of Wang Chung. We are not making this up.

Monte Carlo The Pub closed

Oh, great, now there’s a seat available.

Just outside, the Monte Carlo pool has closed and it already in the process of being tore up real good. Which is the technical term for it in the demolition world, probably.

Monte Carlo pool closed

You just got spared some melanoma. You’re welcome.

Guests of Monte Carlo still have access to a pool, it’s just at MGM Grand.

The closures of The Pub, the pool and the Shops We Never Visited Because Shopping is Boring are part of a $450 million rebrand of Monte Carlo by MGM Resorts. As mentioned, the new hotel will be called Park MGM. The resort will also have a hotel-within-a-hotel, NoMad Las Vegas.

The renovations and rebrand will be finished in 2018, and will bring lots of new offerings to the former Monte Carlo, including an Eataly marketplace, whatever that might actually be.

We really, really like sharing news about the rebrand of Monte Carlo because we wrote about it a year before anyone else. In the parlance of Las Vegas blogs, neener-neener.

If you’re looking for clues about what’s to come at Park MGM, look no further than the Monte Carlo’s exterior. The hotel has telegraphed its new look by painting a section of the building in what we assume with be Park MGM’s color scheme.

Monte Carlo Park MGM

Easiest security breach, ever.

Yes, we broke out the big lens. Somebody had to.

Monte Carlo Park MGM

We recommend you keep your curtains closed when staying in a Las Vegas hotel. Just saying.

There’s a lot more coolness to come, and you can rest assured we’ll be all over it like glitter on a stripper.

Or something appropriate.

Like a banana hammock on a Chippendale.

Oh, relax. Like you read this far, anyway.

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