It’s easy to buy our go-to blazers online. After all, if you own it in every color, you know it fits well.
But when in the mood for something special, we’d rather shop in store than virtually. That’s where we are discovering this season’s pastel vegan leather dresses, jewel-toned wide legged trousers, and floral blouses replete with ruffles and pleats.
“If you’re buying the same thing over and over again, it’s easy to buy it online,” said Marshal Cohen, senior market analyst for Circana, formally the NPD Group. “When it comes to women’s apparel, we’re finding people missed the browse and the impulse buy.”
Before the pandemic, 68% of shoppers preferred shopping in stores, according to Circana. That number dipped to 48% during summer 2020. Analysts predicted the brick-and-mortar shopping experience was headed out of style. But 54% of shoppers were happy to be back in stores by the end of 2022, suggesting in-store shopping was on its way back in vogue. Similarly, Pittsburgh-based CivicScience found that nearly one-third of adult Generation Z women say they’re shopping in stores for apparel and accessories more than before the pandemic.
“You can’t feel the clothes, you can’t try them on,” Cohen said. “The instant gratification from online shopping is disappearing.” (Not to mention package thefts are up and making returns is inconvenient.)
In response to the return to in-person shopping, some local boutique owners have begun to rethink their stores’ mission and offerings. Many remodeled existing boutiques or moved into bigger digs. Other entrepreneurs decided it was time to take their online businesses into the real world.
Here are are eight new or improved women’s shopping haunts to check out this spring.
When her store celebrated 15 years last year, Elena Brennan decided to give her 1,100-square-foot Fabric Row shoe boutique a makeover. She added more lighting and shelving, and even more footwear, with soft soles and platforms from brands like Vagabond and All Black Footwear. Brennan also collaborated with Montreal-based unisex sneaker brand Hotelmotel to create I’d Rather Be X, a collection of gender-neutral crossbody bags, key chains, and wallets.
📍 727 S. Fourth St. 📞215-627-2357 🌐busstopboutique.com, 🕒 Monday to Saturday noon to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Vintage Chanel handbags, Gucci sunglasses, and Cartier jewelry are displayed next to kitschy journals and greeting cards at Bryn Mawr’s newest luxury accessories boutique. Former professional poker player Beth Silverberg opened Exceptional Finds last July because she loved vintage luxury items. Fashionistas might remember Silverberg for her appearance on the 2011 documentary God Save My Shoes. There are no Louboutins here, but Silverberg’s impressive collection of rare handbags and old school sparkle is droolworthy.
📍 840 W. Lancaster Ave. 📞610-492-9220 🌐exceptional-finds.com, 🕒 Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday closed. Additional hours by appointment only.
When Joey Clark peeped a larger space for rent two doors down from her Washington Square boutique two years ago, she went for it. “After the initial COVID shutdown, business picked up,” Clark said. “People who were shopping by themselves on their couches wanted to be styled again.” She also added several new collections to her mix including Agolde, Closed Official, and Sabina Musayev. Kin has two locations on Pine Street, the boutique and an event space to rent to local entrepreneurs.
Generation Xers, this one’s for you. Through his Lyrical Vintage collection, Marc Faletti breathes life into vintage T-shirts, sweatshirts, and plaid button-ups by printing the lyrics from beloved ‘80s and ‘90s music acts like Madonna, Nirvana, and the Beastie Boys. (I bought an upcycled tee emblazoned with “The word is the herb and I’m deep like Bob Marley,” lyrics from A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 song, “Scenario.”) Opened last year on Prince’s birthday, June 7, Latchkey is Faletti’s nod to nostalgia, fashion, and vinyl.
📍1502 E. Passyunk Ave., Floor 1,📞215-305-8310, 🌐shoplatchkey.com, 🕒 Monday Closed. Tuesday and Wednesday noon to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday noon to 7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Ethan Nguyen decided M Concept Shop’s private label collection should embody what he loved: architecture, modern art, and global street style. “I travel a lot and I wanted to bring a sense of newness to what I offered women,” Nguyen said. So while working from home during the pandemic, he streamlined the M Concept collection and gave it a reboot. All of Nguyen’s M Concept pieces are now tailored, yet loose and flowing. Nearly everything is in black and white, but Nguyen added some aquamarine and kelly green to the mix for pop.
Rebel began as a Chestnut Hill-based yoga studio where owner Sue Pinto dabbled in athleisure. However, with the emergence of more at-home yogis, Pinto pivoted to a women’s clothing boutique to stay in business. She still carries leggings and sports bras from popular brands Beyond Yoga and Splits 59, but the majority of apparel in her new Rittenhouse Square location is dedicated to sporty, casual pieces like silky cargo pants by Pharoah and day dresses from YFB Dawn.
West Chester University graduate Char Jones opened Senoj Clothing in 2018 with a focus on date night, girls’ night out, and at-the-club fashion. But when the pandemic hit, her customers were going out less and working more. “She became more oriented,” Jones said. “She needed more chic, sophisticated choices, even if it was just for a Zoom call.” So Jones added more trousers, dresses, and blazers to her offerings, but “not all of my pieces are serious,” she said.
📍1609 South St.📞215-398-5577, 🌐shopsenoj.com, 🕒Tuesday to Saturday noon to 6 p.m.
Deborah Van Cleve expanded her special occasion and bridal boutique from 5,000 to 9,000 square feet in the throes of the pandemic. “We knew weddings and formal events would be back twice as big when it was over, because people wanted to get out and celebrate,” Van Cleve said. With the extra space, Van Cleve added dozens of new brands from diverse bridal designers like Liz Martinez and Jesus Peiro, increasing her bridal selection by 30%. Ready-to-wear lines Sareh Nouri, Alex Teih, Catherine Regehr, and Jovani add pizzazz.
📍1604 E. Lancaster Ave, Paoli,📞610-647-5055 , 🌐vanclevebridal.com, 🕒Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday noon to 8 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment only.