When is the last time you stopped into a local, small business to buy a shirt, some soap, or a pair of fashion earrings? Most of us in Westchester are often so busy that we like to shop in the department stores to hit all birds with one stone. We are constantly on the go, and running in every direction. But did you know that for every dollar spent in a local, small business, sixty-eight cents go back into the local economy as opposed to only forty-four cents of that dollar that you spend in a department, or big-box store?
In my travels of the last few weeks, I have visited with some local shop owners to discover what they have that is special, and so very different than the larger chains. I would like to take the opportunity to tell you about a few of them.
I am a hound for soap. Real, honest-to-goodness handmade soap, and not the detergent that most people think is soap. Up until last week, I had to go far north (to Orange County!) to find what I was looking for…until I wandered into Scarsdale, and off the beaten path. Just off Garth Road, on the Freightway, is a little shop of sunshine and the most intoxicating and inviting herbal aromas. Walk into the soapshop known as Kalliste (Greek for most beautiful), and not only will you be greeted by the beauty of the shop itself and its wares, but by the warmth of owner Marie Labropoulos. Marie was born and raised in Brooklyn, but when a move to Greece presented itself, she found a whole other life awaiting her…a simpler way of life that was appealing and natural.
Marie studied engineering, and later moved back to New York, starting an intense career as an Engineer. Yet, she longed for the old ways of life. She began to handcraft soap in the ways of her ancestors in Greece, using botanicals and olive oil. She gave the soaps to family and friends and in 2008, Kalliste was born. It was then that Marie decided to leave her 10 year, stressful career and pursue her passion for soap and natural body care. Marie’s products are formulated using organic and vegan high-quality ingredients. She has recently branched out into party favors and custom corporate promotions, and says “in your business you start out doing one thing, and then end up doing something completely new!” When you visit Kalliste, try my favorites, the Herbal Olive Oil bar and the Aromatherapy spray lotion in Bergamot, mmm!
Head down the Bronx River Parkway to Bronxville, and hit Kraft Avenue. There you will find the most adorable jewelry shop, and its equally lovely owner, Lisa Bellacero. Bellacero opened No Stone Unturned just over two years ago. Bellacero is a self-described “jewelry junkie” whose dream it always was to own her own shop. Over the past two years, she has sourced jewels from local designers to designers from as far as Israel and Asia. She offers a wide range of price-points, and there is literally something for every taste, age and budget. She does strive to leave “no stone unturned” in sourcing her wares, and it shows in her enthusiasm for the art of jewelry. In fact, she is so devoted to jewelry that last year she added a totally new component to the shop – a beading table. She offers parties for children, as well as individual beading classes and beading “girls night out” for adults. You can even stop in, and if you don’t see something that you like, she will help you create it!
Take Kraft Avenue to Sagamore and head into Tuckahoe and Main Street for a unique and wonderful experience in boutique shopping. Let the ladies of Verano Boutique help you find that special outfit, or accessory for virtually any occasion. Shop owner, Anne Buckley, and shop manager Therese Hoarty are two gals who left their corporate careers in Manhattan to pursue a quieter and more satisfying lifestyle in retail. Walk into Verano, and you are instantly greeted with a warm smile from Anne and Therese, and a dazzling array of styles for any taste and budget. There is a combination of well-known brands with Indie Brands that are under the radar, and the combination definitely works well. You might find things from Creme Fraiche or Carolina Amato, to jewelry and accessories from Chan Luu. Often, the shop features trunk shows from emerging designers. With a hip, uptown vibe, but a personal, warm touch, Verano is not one to be missed!
Hop back on the Bronx River and head north to White Plains. There, on Mamaroneck Avenue, you will find Zoya Boutique. Owner Diana Makaj is a professional fashion stylist. The boutique is run by Rroosh Nikac, a fashion maven, and FIT graduate. Says Nikac (known to friends as Rosie), “fashion marketing is where its at for me! I love Blogging about all things fashion and such . Zoya is a big part of my life because the atmosphere is so laid back and comfortable. It lets me explore my creative side while helping people look great (which is probably the one thing I love most). Our clientele is pretty much anyone who loves trendy fashionable clothes they will not be able to get anywhere, and it ranges from the young teen to the hot mom”. Zoya is now carrying Men’s clothing by Afflicition, True Religion, DcTrn, No Excess M.O.D. and the ladies’ lines are Sky, Ark&co, Flying Tom, Paulnk,and Do&Be. They even have baby blankets and booties for custom order! Zoya has been open for 10 years, so they must be doing something right. They have recently renovated the shop, and it is now very sleek and urban. They certainly know how to grow as a company, and have recently added a “brow bar” in the back with a dynamic gal named Jude (worked on the Sopranos and Oz) who will wax your brows so artistically, you might think you had plastic surgery!
For more information on how shopping local can impact not only your community’s economy, but the global economy, visit here.