Boutiques seek the unique, distinctive for clientele
By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Published: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 5:04 p.m.
Nancy Gilmore and Venetia Torre are fashionistas.
They own boutiques two miles apart and bring style and a sense of chic to an area of the South Hills you might not think of when shopping for the latest on trend apparel and unique women's accessories.
But, once inside Gilmore's MoZaic Boutique in Collier and Torre's Kizmit Boutique in Bridgeville shoppers discover some of the most unique items you can't find in larger chain or department stores.
Both are in new locations. Gilmore celebrated five years in business in October. MoZaic moved from Bridgeville to Collier in September. Torre, who has owned several stores and been in fashion for 30-plus years, opened her latest shop Sept. 13, a lucky number for her, she says.
Having this kind of shopping available so close to home is wonderful, says Annamary Kisic of Bridgeville, a regular at MoZaic.
“I love to support local business, and it's even better when you deal with someone as nice and knowledgeable as Nancy,” Kisic says. “It's more than just shopping. It's about the relationship you form with the store owner and her employees. Nancy carries a lot of unique and distinctive clothing and accessories. Her artisan jewelry collections are amazing.”
Those collections were at the forefront of Gilmore getting into this business. Her love of art has transferred into her store being based on the concept of “where art blends with fashion,” she says.
“I love visual artistic accessories,” Gilmore says. “I love hand-painted pieces, so that is what I look for when I am buying for my store.”
The thrill of seeing what Gilmore finds reminds Kisic of shopping in mom-and-pop stores, where the owners and people who work there know who you are and what you like.
Gilmore and Torre will often contact a customer when something arrives they might like because they know a person's individual style. Both buy limited amounts of an item, so not everyone has it. And, when you wear something from one of these boutiques, people notice, Kisic says.
Pam Beattie of Upper St. Clair agrees.
She says Torre has been her stylist for more than 20 years. The two go back to when Torre worked in the St. Clair Shops before having stores inside the Galleria in Mt. Lebanon and Downtown.
“I am like a kid when I walk into Venetia's store,” Beattie says. “I love to look at everything, and, every time I go in there, I notice something new and something that I like. Venetia knows what I like. She is not pushy. I trust her fashion sense completely. I am so glad she is back.”
Both proprietors have an eye for what looks good, and they offer items that will transcend time.
“When I am around Venetia, she makes me feel good about myself,” Beattie says. “I like a classic style, but I want to be stylish, as well and she helps me feel comfortable in my wardrobe choices.”
Both owners live close to their businesses, which they say is important. Gilmore is from Rennerdale and Torre lives in South Fayette. And they try to keep their collections to exclusive boutique lines.
“When customers come in, we try to make it fun experience for them,” Gilmore says. “We treat them like they are family. And having good people who work for me helps immensely, because I could not do it all myself. Each employee brings a different perspective and talent to the store. I want shoppers to feel like they are walking through an art gallery when they come through my store, seeing something different each time. I want to stay unique.”
The items available in her store include tapestry boots, colorful handbags and sparkling jewelry, from watches to rings.
Torre carries fun accessories from scarves to boots and jewelry as well as many colors and styles of leather jackets.
“I want everyone who walks through that door to be comfortable here,” Gilmore says. “I want them to feel welcome when they shop here.”
So does Torre, whose current location reminds her of her first store in the St. Clair Shops. There are customers who stop in who have an item they purchased at her former store, Venetia's Boutique, many years back.
“I can help a woman update her wardrobe and she doesn't have to add a lot of items to do that,” Torre says. “Something like a leather jacket or a fun pair of boots or an interesting piece of jewelry can change up an existing outfit. I try to buy classic pieces that will work for years to come. It's about adding something to your closet that looks fresh and new. I can show a woman how to wear a certain accessory or piece of jewelry.”
The women who wear clothing and accessories from Kizmit have to feel good about themselves, Torre says.
“If something doesn't look right, I will be the first one to say take it off,” Torre says. “Let's find something better. I am not in this for the immediate sale. I am in it for the long-term relationship.”
• MoZaic Boutique is at 1597 Washington Pike, Suite A-13, Collier, Collier Town Square Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; until 8 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Details: 412-275-3787 or www.mozaicboutique.com
• Kizmit Boutique is at 510 Station St., Bridgeville, Norwood Center
Hours are 11 a.m . to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Details: 412-221-5151 or www.kizmitboutique.com
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7889.
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