A few years ago, I became friends with the owners of a boutique in Florida called Wearable Art, a cool shop that featured designer clothing, accessories and jewelry. I truly admired the boutique and its artful fabrics and styles. Whenever we were in Florida to go to market for Purple Pelican Gallery, we met for conversations about art and craft since they also owned an art gallery for many years, which led to the opening of the boutique. We shared resources and learned about lines of clothing we’d like to carry in Spooner. I added clothing as an experiment, hoping my customers would like it. The sales that first year were so good I added more and now the Wearable Art section is quite popular, with its own dedicated area in the gallery.
In January of last year, I learned that health issues were causing the owners to retire. They had sold the gallery but offered me their boutique at a very reasonable price. My husband Terry and I bought it and spent February through May getting acquainted with Wearable Art Boutique in Winter Park.
The dream was that I could work the boutique in Florida for a few months in the winter and the gallery in Spooner in the spring, summer, and fall. The reality was, I couldn’t do both. We had a very capable manager in Winter Park but in October, she retired from retail and returned to her own real estate business she had left after the economic crash of six years ago. With the economic turnaround in Florida, demand was too great for her not to work her brokerage full time. That meant I would have to take her place. We could not find a suitable replacement for her (I also had two other employees) and soon the stress of it all overcame me. Terry said the expense and stress of trying to run businesses 1,600 miles apart was not working or making sense and that I had to choose one business or the other.
After speaking with a consultant, who explained our options, it seemed the choice was clear. He said if I was to be successful, I was going to have to work the boutique business full-time and give up the gallery in Wisconsin. That choice was unthinkable to me. Purple Pelican is my first born and my first love. Since we had an option to be released from our lease in Winter Park, we took it and by the end of March, we had sold most of our inventory and all our store fixtures and closed down the boutique.
When we returned to Spooner in April, we brought with us several thousand dollars worth of clothing and jewelry to put in the gallery.
Now I’m so pleased to be home at Purple Pelican Gallery and having a huge “STAYING IN BUSINESS SALE!” which is much more exciting and rewarding than the other.
Purple Pelican has suffered somewhat by my absence and I have an excess of inventory that needs to go so I can refresh the gallery with new art for the coming summer. I hope you’ll take advantage of this big sale to get some art or clothing that you have long admired, or if you’re new to my art gallery, you’ll find a reason to come back again and again!
One thing I came away with from this experience, is a good understanding of the fashion industry and many new designers to add to my “Wearable Art” space here at the Pelican. I hope to become your go-to shop for not only interesting art and craft, but also for clothing and accessories you can’t find anywhere else in Northwest Wisconsin.
Wearable Art Boutique was a costly experiment, but I’m not in debt, I have my health, my family, my business here in Spooner, and friends like you! Thank you for your patronage.
Hope to see you soon.