Vernon boutiques create their own fashion niches

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:00

VERNON — At a time when the economy makes shoppers think two or three times about purchases, fashion lovers can look to buy all types of clothing in Vernon from two boutique owners who have created niche markets for their varied items. At her shop, Blue Sky, Roni Paulino is courting those who admire clothing and shoes seen in Glamour, More or Allure and other fashion-forward magazines. She recently took ownership of the boutique on Omega Drive and Paulino says she’s pleased to have been so warmly received by fashion-conscious shoppers. And those who appreciate the classic designer styles of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s can find these vintage fashions, in addition to new designer items, at Mill Creek Boutique on Route 515. Based out of the oldest house in Vernon, Mill Creek Boutique’s new focus is on the “vintage, retro clothing that is gently worn,” and found by owner Rose Ann Brennan at estate sales and other shops during her many travels. “When I travel, I see if I can find something funky,” said Brennan. “I have very high standards on the quality and condition of my clothing. Everything has to be as if I would wear it myself. I am really picky about what I take, so I have a lot of really nice pieces.” Bringing fashion to Vernon is a key drive for both shop owners, who aim to attract people who’d rather not drive the distance to one of the malls. “People say they’re happy to have a shoe store here in Vernon,” noted Paulino. “That’s a major thing here.” She’s carrying recognizable names: Sketchers, Chinese Laundry, Bandolino, Steve Madden, Enzo, Ugg, and Harley Davidson and Fry boots. At Mill Creek, Brennan said her clients are thrilled to have a shop nearby that focuses on “the classics.” “My boutique has classic pieces that can stay with you for 20 to 30 years,” said Brennan. “I have simple, elegant and classy clothes. I’m trying to dress the 30- to 80-year-old. I’m not really geared for kids. I’m not trying to make anyone look matronly. I’m trying to make them look stylish.” Mill Creek shoppers will find classic lines such as Jones New York, Kasper and Saks as well as newer contemporary fashions from Tribal and Ya. Brennan also carries Spanx undergarments and she’s the only Vernon shop to offer Brighton jewelry “I try to keep it different or else it could be boring,” she said. “Otherwise, it would be like Macy’s.” Blue Sky looks to be different too. When visiting the boutique, shoppers will see jean labels such as Lucky Jeans, Levis and Calvin Klein; Willow and Avalin sweaters; Jam Wear casual fashions; and “Bagtigue” handbags. Sprinkle in a selection of work attire, including gabardine pants and dresses, suitable for most young and older women. Shop locally, save gas “People say they don’t want to drive an hour to the mall with the cost of gas,” said Paulino, who recently relocated to the area from Maryland. “With the cost of gas, no one wants to travel. Since the day I opened, I’ve had a very positive response.” It’s not just the savings of time and money either. “I find people are coming in and saying they want to shop local,” she said. “They have a respect for these local vendors vs. going to the mall.” Brennan finds, in addition to Vernon residents, her customers include residents of Warwick, N.Y., who come to buy cheaper gas and then shop in Vernon, where’s there’s no tax on clothing. “It’s a double savings for them.” Blue Sky attitude In addition to relocating from Maryland and becoming Blue Sky’s new owner, Paulino is a newlywed. Taking on all three major changes in her life is not something she’d necessarily recommend, but Paulino’s glad she did. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I never owned a boutique before, but the opportunity arose and I jumped on it. The timing was right.” Having just come through a good Christmas season, Paulino says she was “pleasantly surprised how well the store did in the economy.” She characterized it as “great” and said she’s “hopeful” that shoppers will continue to patronize her store. “ I want to appeal to what people want around here. I’ve already gotten good feedback,” Paulino said. She remains optimistic the boutique will do well despite a shaky economy. She’ll be adding new inventory, including new brands and teen apparel. Positive approach at Mill Creek Brennan is also a newlywed who sold her business in New York to come to Vernon. She is equally upbeat about her boutique’s success and her approach — offering a combination of new and gently worn clothing to allow shoppers to mix and match new items sold in the front of the store with vintage companion pieces from the back — or vice versa, she added. She also found herself as a newcomer to Vernon and a new shop owner welcomed by the community. “It’s good,” said Brennan. “The business opportunity came up and I bought it. Vernon took me in. We’re still a new business. We’re only here for three years. It’s an uphill climb, but it’s going well. I’ve been very well-received in Vernon and I’m having fun.”