I own a summer dress that I found in a small boutique on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s a halter dress that ties in the back – the bow a built in accessory – its straps drape gracefully down my back. It’s mostly black and white, with a thick fluorescent yellow stripe at its hem, and for about five minutes, the dress almost wasn’t mine.
The day I walked in the store, two of us were circling it – probably like vultures – both of us waiting the other out before we went in for the kill. The other woman was more bold than I, and lifted it off the rack. “Well, that’s that,” I thought, but then the sales lady said, “I’m so sorry, but that dress is for someone else.” She opened her arms to receive the dress from the other woman. “I’m sorry,” she said again. “It just happened.”
The other woman shrugged her shoulders, and walked out of the store, and the saleslady turned to me and handed me the dress.
“Give it a try,” she said.
So I did, and when I walked out of the dressing room, she took one look at me and said, “Ahhh, yes. That’s what I thought. That dress belongs to you.”
I bought the dress and took it home to Ann Arbor, and like all my favorite pieces in my wardrobe, it is easily worn in multiple circumstances: with a jeans jacket and white converse at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market looking at sunflowers; with sparkly gold sandals and a matching bracelet for dinner and drinks on Main Street before heading to the Ark to hear the RFD boys play; with flip flops (that match the stripe in my dress) and a canvas tote to look around Literati and then to Comet Coffee to sip coffee while diving into a fresh story.
I’m not suggesting this type of thing happens in every boutique you’ll ever enter, but I do think walking into a small, local store lends itself to an adventure of delight, with plenty of souvenirs to take back home. It also brings the added bonus of knowing you’ve lifted the spirits of a local business owner.
Thankfully, you don’t have to travel far to find unique options locally that will bring a smile to your face each time you open your closet. Take a look at these boutiques in Washtenaw County.
Ferne Boutique – located on 4th in downtown, this small store offers shoes, clothes, and jewelry in a variety of colors, shapes, and designs. 217 S 4th Ave., Ann Arbor.
V2V – an airy space up the stairs from Found in Kerrytown, V2V offers comfy, whimsical clothing that will have you ready for weekend brunches and art fairs. Shop their candles and stationary, too! 415 N 5th Ave., Ann Arbor.
Late Bird – a beautiful mix of wardrobe staples and trendy pieces for women of all shapes and sizes, and income brackets, Late Bird on Main Street is committed to helping women build a beautiful and confident capsule wardrobe. 1200 N Main St., Ann Arbor.
Bivouac – Stylish activewear for anything from strolling to skiing. Located on the edge of Nickels Arcadia (be sure to check the basement where the sales are). 336 S State St., Ann Arbor.
Verbena – located across from the University, Verbena is filled with hip accessories and clothing (and the most inspiring sandwich board quotations just outside the store). 309 S State St., Ann Arbor.
Getup Vintage – a story with a passion to bring social and environmental responsibility to fashion, Getup Vintage pays careful attention to preventing textile waste and fast fashion. 215 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Pitaya – stock up on minis, bralettes, dresses, and claw clips at this downtown location. This is geared a bit younger toward the college crowd.315 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Rock, Paper, Scissors – fun accessories, and cute Michigan sweatshirts adorn this store (pick up some fun socks and a journal, too!) 216 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Write Touch – a charming boutique filled with personalized gifts, stationary, jewelry, and clothes. Located at 2386 E Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
The Attic Boutique – Stop by for clothes, jewelry, accessories, candles, and sweets. 105 E Middle St, Chelsea, MI 48118
The Potting Shed Stores – A collection of stores in downtown Chelsea with loads of unique inventory, and stellar customer service. Plan on spending a couple of hours looking around. 112 W Middle St, Chelsea, MI 48118
Chelsea Consignment – A consignment shop in downtown Chelsea offering gently used (1-2 years old) designer clothes and jewelry. 104 E. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118
The Eve and Annie Boutique – There are plenty of trendy items to look through – from clothes to shoes and accessories – to transform your day. 102 W Chicago Blvd, Tecumseh, MI 49286
The Painted Trout – Started out as a place for owner Lauren Kingsley to sell her hand-painted silk scarves, this store offers a wide variety of athletic wear (for men and women), plus everything you might need for the sport of fly fishing. 8063 Main St, Dexter, MI 48130
Whitetail Farm – A full service interior design firm and retail shop, Whitetail Farm offers gorgeous pieces for home and work. 8080 Grand St Unit 2, Dexter, MI 48130
The Resale Boutique – a charming consignment boutique in a home that was built in 1910, The Resale Boutique offers high quality, used, brand name clothing, jewelry, and accessories. 206 W Michigan Ave, Saline, MI 48176
Cobblestone Rose – with a floor dedicated to home decor and jewelry, and a floor for clothing, this Saline boutique that started as a floral design shop offers a little bit of everything. 101 S Ann Arbor St # 111, Saline, MI 48176
Hello Reese – Owned by two moms, Hello Reese offers classic and trendy styles to the everyday woman. 9517 Sandpiper Ln, Saline, MI 48176
Mix – Colorful and creative clothing and accessories adorn both the Ypsi and the Ann Arbor locations: 130 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197; Nickels Arcade, Suites 2, 4, and 5, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Puffer Reds – Shoes, t-shirts, hats, and more for both men and women.113 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
YpsiCity – This creative shop has a passion for lifting up Ypsilanti, and offers shelf space to local artists to sell clothes, jewelry, art, and more. 2898 Washtenaw, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
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