Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Growing boutique comes with a side of retail history

Women's clothing boutique Ivy & Leo, which opened in March 2009 at Founders Hall in downtown Charlotte, this weekend debuted a second location at Specialty Shops on the Park, on Morrison Boulevard across from SouthPark mall.

Despite opening in the depths of the recession, the store has thrived downtown, selling "fun, trendy clothes at an affordable price," says owner Stephanie Strause, who named the store after her two rescue dogs. She opened there because she had seen plenty of traffic in Founders Hall and figured the concept could attract interest, and that proved true, she said. However, that location is not open on weekends, and she wanted to be able to serve customers on Saturday and Sunday, with easy in-and-out access. Both shops sell dresses, tops, shoes, handbags and accessories, with dresses in the $50 to $100 range, for example.

Ivy & Leo is the trendier sister store of Julie's, a longtime Charlotte-area women's shop now in its third generation of family ownership, with six Carolinas locations. Strause's husband, Aron, runs Julie's with his father, Leonard; Aron Strause's grandfather, Julius Strause, founded the business. Aron and Stephanie Strause go on buying trips together, each searching for items for their respective stores, and the businesses also share a warehouse, Stephanie Strause said.