The warmth and personality of caring shop owners add a little something to a retail experience. They know your size. They remember your favorite color. They call so you won’t miss a sale. They respect your wallet. They have a gift idea for your best friend.
At Gab Street Boutique in Willoughby, it’s double the attention with shop owners and longtime friends Lucy Romah and Darlene Novak, who treat a visit to their corner of the world as though you’ve stopped in for tea.
“Our customers are like our girlfriends,” says Romah, gesturing toward a swivel barber-style chair by the cashier’s desk where regulars will plop down and gab. “You come in a customer and leave a friend.”
Romah and Novak, who have known each other for at least 20 years, decided two years ago to pour their creativity into a purse
venture that took off beyond their expectations. In March 2008, they leased a storefront for Gab Street — the name blends their maiden names, Gabriele and Longstreet, to sell their merchandise.
Today the shop carries clothing, accessories, shoes and bags (unfortunately, they sold out of their own last year) from trendy labels such as Mystree and Samuel Dong and wares from local designer Danielle DiBenedetto’s Proper Tea line, Silver Peanut mixed-metal jewelry and red i lariats.
You can go home with a chic $15 leather bracelet studded with crystals or a crisp, perfectly ruffled white top for $50 and up. Honoring this season’s tribute to all things plaid, a sleeveless olive and pewter plaid dress by C. Luce with ruffle detail is delicate but fashion-forward with a thick belt ($55).
Every week there’s new stock. “We order five or six of each item, that way everyone is not wearing the same thing,” Romah says.
Gab Street also hosts girls’ nights by appointment. Come in, try on, sip, and gab. “Women can shop on their own, play dress up,” Novak says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
4065 Erie St., Willoughby, (440) 269-8060