choices for Longview retail scene
Driving to Portland for a new stylish outfit isn’t always an option, and Michelle Philbrook hopes to give local women more choices for trendy new clothing without the commute. Her new boutique, Posh On Commerce, offers a mix of contemporary styles.
“Our lives are so hectic. We’re pulled in so many different ways that to run down to Portland to find a cute top at a last minute event because you’re going either on a date night or something popped up, we didn’t have a place to really shop like that,” Philbrook said Monday from inside her new boutique, which opened Oct. 15 at 1314 Commerce Ave. in downtown Longview.
“With us being so busy, we’re online, we’re shopping on the Internet. You don’t get to touch and you don’t get to feel that product anymore. Trying on is key. So that’s what I wanted: to bring that experience back to us, the women in town,” she added.
Immediately upon walking into the boutique, customers are greeted with light fragrance from burning candles, which emit scents such as Bourbon with vanilla and pumpkin spice.
The white walls, wood style laminate floors and modern decor provide a minimalist backdrop for the store’s clothing. Philbrook worked with vendors to create exclusivity, which means the vendors have agreed not to sell to any other stores within 30 miles.
“I think truly to keep people from coming in the doors you have to create newness, freshness. Things that (a customer) has seen that she can’t get anywhere else,” she said.
Many of the vendors are from the Pacific Northwest, such as Shay Coco, a designer from Toutle. However a few items are from elsewhere, such as the TokyoMilk line of lotions and fragrances in scents with names like “Let them Eat Cake.” The back of the store has a display of Brazilian leather handbags and wallets made by the brand Hobo. Although Nordstrom still sells the brand’s wallets, the purses can now only be found at specialty stores,
Philbrook says she tries to select items for a range of budgets. Tank tops can start at $16, blouses range between $29 to $44 and dresses can go up to $129.
“Just the feedback I’ve been getting since the minute we opened the store is that I have not had any hesitation on the pricing. People in Longview, women in Longview, are just hungry for new fashion, new avenues to buy things in,” she said.
The boutique’s inventory changes constantly as Philbrook only orders “one run” sizes. (She only orders one style in a range of sizes once. When they sell out, she won’t buy that style again.) That avoids running “into another woman wearing the same top,” she joked.
Philbrook worked in corporate retail for Victoria’s Secret, Bon Marche and Macy’s. Over her 22 years in the retail industry, she’s worked as a buyer, a director of staffing and district director. Two years ago, Macy’s consolidated and gave Philbrook the option to move to a different city or resign. After 15 years at the company, she resigned and took a year off with her children before getting her new business started.
She and her husband, John, spent about two months remodeling the store after taking over the lease in August. They did most of the renovation work themselves or with the help of friends. They invested about $10,000 into freshening up the space.
She now has two part time employees, but still spends a lot of time interacting with customers, something she missed at her former job.
“I think that’s truly key, and that’s what I love about being here every day with the customers that come in. When they’re asking for something, I can probably find it for them and . they’re just ecstatic. So it’s nice to feel like you’re being listened to when you’re shopping,” she said.