Hooked on Originals

September 12, 2008






So lately I’ve been wandering around town quite a bit (on foot, as you all know).  Since there aren’t many chain stores within walking distance, mostly I end up in little boutiques.  And the crazy thing is that I’ve become quite attached to these little boutiques.  I would even say that I’m getting to be on a first name basis with some of the owners.  Here’s a typical exchange:

Owner: “Is this your first time in here?”
Me: “Yes!  I’ve walked by it a million times, but never popped in.”
Owner: “So glad you stopped by.  Look around!”
Me: “Can’t wait- I’m excited!  Are you the owner?”
Owner: “Why yes I am.”
Me (in awe and appreciation): “Wow!  I’m super curious about your business!  Can I ask some questions?”
Owner: “Of course, I feel like we’re friends already!”
Me asking some mix of these questions: “Are you a sole proprietorship, partnership or franchise?  Where did you get your initial financing?  Is this the only store?  Where did you get the idea for this store?  What was your prior background?” etc, etc. (this continues until I can tell they’re exhausted with me- I can’t help it!  I love learning about how people picked their businesses!)

I enjoy these interactions so much that I’m changing my shopping strategy a bit.  I’m beginning to buy fewer items with a higher retail.  It feels good to support local merchants and artisans and I’ve been feeling lately like I have too much stuff anyways (as evidenced by the storage unit full of things I’m not using right now).  One of my latest finds was Il Vostro Boutique, which just opened in downtown St. Paul.  Stacey, the owner, is simply delightful and I especially admire her taste in jewelry!  She walked me around the entire store showing me things and I found myself taken with the delightful “one-of-a-kind” necklace you see above.  I was on the fence due to price and it was closing time- so I left the store.  I got back to Nick’s and freaked out because I realized I was enamoured with the necklace and should have bought it.  Luckily, my new friend Stacey had given me her business card, so I simply called her up after hours and she met me and re-opened the shop so I could get the necklace that night.  How about that for customer service?!  Take that Nordstroms!  Oh, but wait.  That wasn’t all.  She had two other necklaces with different word pairings at the other store, so she brought them over to St. Paul the next morning to make sure that I really had the one I want.  (I wonder if by that point she was regretting the sale….)

So, now that I’m officially the owner of this beautiful original, let me take a moment to tell you about it and the artist!  The jewelry is called BY COY and the artist’s name is Tammy Coy from Des Moines, Iowa.  Her pieces are quite eclectic in nature and often carry a message of some sort.  They feel like the perfect mix of antique and modern to me.  My necklace has FUN on one side and BORING on the other.  I’ve only worn it a few times, but it’s proven to be quite the conversation piece.  If you have a moment, check out this artist’s site!  She’s quite gifted.  Also, if you need any tips on how to strike up random conversations with entrepreneurs, just let me know!

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