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Retailers in Northville have the goods for a busy holiday shopping season

  Photos by Liz Cezat (Lorla's photos were submitted.)
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Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26 launched what Northville retailers foresee as a busy shopping season – drawing loyal customers and new shoppers from Northville and southeastern Michigan, and out-of-town visitors. With scores of unique stores, Northville is a destination for shopping, dining and walking around in the hip, historic downtown.

Most of the retailers have a website presence with mail order available – you never have to step foot into the store to purchase their goods, although you would miss the aura of artful displays of merchandise, friendly and knowledgeable owners and employees, and great sound systems that put you in the mood to shop.

While you’re at the store, check out the architecture inside and out – you’ll see tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, cornices, pillars and other historic features. It feels cozy and warm – a sensation you typically don’t get from a big box retailer.

Unique women’s clothing and accessories
Chris Van Dam, owner of Van Dam’s Boutique noted three reasons to shop there, “We have a great selection of clothes and accessories, good service, and we carry goods from (small quantity) designers that are often handmade or one-of-a-kind.”

Her store features Joseph Ribkoff clothing – dressy items – and a vast array of unique jewelry.
For the holidays, she stocks Mark Roberts collectibles, which include fairies that add intrigue to a Christmas tree.

Lauren Beras, an owner of Lorla’s, which sells shoes, handbags, women’s clothing and accessories, said Small Business Saturday was fabulous. She had special promotions the entire weekend that benefitted both the customers and the boutique’s bottom line.

On Friday and Saturday, customers were invited to put everything they wanted to buy on the counter and then pull a red ornament that contained a discount slip of 10 to 50% off. When they learned of their discount, they could put things back but not add anything new to their selection. On Sunday, women could bring in new or gently used bras to support the “Free the Girls” charity in exchange for a 20% discount.

Lorla’s has plenty of gifts for $25 or less. Best sellers are well-made socks that don’t fall down – some with a quirky bent that customers love. The store also has demure texting gloves, priced at $25. Other hot sellers are Zand Amsterdam skirts – reversible, adjustable in size, and made in Australia, and Michigan CAT boots.

“We go through things quickly. Our customers want something that you don’t find everywhere. She wants comfort and style. That’s our gig,” said Beras, who comes from a family of business owners.

“We concentrate on personal service,” she noted. “I’ve always said to my employees, ‘Be humble enough to get down on your hands and knees and serve someone but fashionable enough to be asked for your advice.’”

Fun is a top reason to shop at Lorla’s. “We want it to be your best shopping experience. It’s also about a connection. You can shop anywhere, but, here, there’s a personal connection with the store owner and employees who care about what you want. If she (the customer) is not thrilled with what she bought, she’s not coming back. I care more about them coming back than that first sale,” said Beras.

Art for your walls
Dan Ferrara, co-owner of Northville Gallery, said Small Business Saturday was excellent, as usual. “It’s nice to see new faces and see more people come to downtown Northville that day because they really want to support local businesses.

The Gallery offers paintings by locally popular artists as well as custom framing. “We do great work at a price that is often less than big-box stores. A custom-framed piece is something that’s going to go on the wall and be viewed for years to come. It’s a lasting memory.

“In our retail community, there’s a saying that meaningful gifts come from Northville. Customers often put thought into a gift, and buy something because of what it means rather than what it is,” Ferrara said.

Among the Gallery’s popular Christmas items are boxes of writing cards with holiday scenes of Northville, including Santa standing in front of the Marquis theater. Customers favor paintings by Michael McNamara, who captures Northville scenes of the farmer’s market and Mill Race Village, and by Sviatoslav Kozakov, who focuses on Michigan’s Great Lakes areas.

Everyone needs jeans
Small Business Saturday brought new people into Rock on Main Clothing Company, which specializes in jeans and casual, funky and alluring tops for women. Owner Colleen Puzzuoli says a can’t-miss gift this year are skinny jeans. Flared jeans are making a comeback too, when worn with a jacket for a sophisticated look. Sweaters are also a top-selling item. The store carries merchandise from the Detroit Shirt Company and other Detroit-based clothing manufacturers, saving customers a trip to Downtown Detroit to purchase authentic items.

“There’s a misconception that boutique prices are more expensive than a department store,” Puzzuoli said. “People are pleased with the prices and often buy several pairs of jeans.” On social media, customers give Puzzuoli high marks for the quality, fit and style of the jeans she sells.

“We sell nice, comfortable, casual wear. We offer a lot of unique items, much of it made in the U.S. We carry Pink Martini and Aratta women’s clothing lines, among others,” Puzzuoli said.

Personally crafted gifts take extra effort
If you want to make your own gift, check out the tools at The Village Workshop, 455 E. Cady St., where professionals, makers and kids use the workshop’s tools on site to produce items for business or personal use. A bonus is that you can get a hot or cold beverage and yummy baked goods at their on-site café, open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week.

Pozzuoli sums up shopping locally this holiday season, “A vibrant downtown is important for everyone in the community.”



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