Want to add something new and bright to your wardrobe? Looking for that special gift to give the mother in your life on Mother’s Day? You’ll want to stop by Retail Therapy in Okemos, a shop with gifts, accessories and clothing for women of all ages, tastes and sizes. Estelle Saltzman, who owned a similar shop in Saginaw, opened this one last August when her physician husband took a position at Sparrow Hospital. The Okemos shop’s location was perfect and it was move-in ready. “The decor and color scheme — earth tones and wood trim — even matched our logo,” Saltzman said. Her goal is simple. She offers classic items, and makes the shopping experience friendly and relaxed. And because she wants to provide women with one-of-a-kind pieces for their wardrobes, she only carries limited quantities of each item. She always has a sale rack for those watching their budget. Saltzman knows a lot about women’s clothing, having worked for a large wholesaler for many years earlier in her career. “Now, I’m on the other side of the table,” she said. Where she used to go to big shows as a vendor, she now goes as a buyer. A native Chicagoan, she is happy that the “windy city” has expanded their shows so she can get the latest trends in women’s premium clothing lines close to home. “The shows in Chicago are expanding beyond just the ones in Merchandise Mart,” she said. Saltzman looks for high quality items, and believes in supporting American-made products where possible. Much of the artisan-made costume jewelry she sells is made in Michigan. Regardless of where it’s made, this experienced seamstress knows true craftsmanship when she sees it. Saltzman also values her customers or “guests” as she calls them. She and her staff are focused on giving them “lots of personal attention, and service that goes above and beyond the norm.” They provide beverages and invite them to wander through the cozy boutique to find that perfect item from among the sale racks and new arrivals. Saltzman makes sure to stock the latest trends and carries brands that her customers want. The most popular items in the shop are premium denim patented jeans specially made to keep their shape and not bag at the knees or bottom. “Everyone can use at least one nice pair of jeans,” she said. She carries shirts and “trendy” tops to complement the pants that can be worn for different occasions. Retail Therapy offers other services to its guests — from fancy gift-wrapping that makes any gift look special, to on-the-spot alterations that give guests outfits that have the perfect fit. As a shop owner and shopper herself, Saltzman has learned some valuable lessons along the way. “Whenever possible, I make sure that my purchases fit into my budget,” she said, “and I try to pay cash for everything.” In fact, Saltzman pointed out that she paid for the furniture that graces the shop with cash. “It makes me feel safe that I actually do own the furnishings,” she said and that there won’t be any other charges looming in the future. Retail Therapy has not only given the shoppers in the area a lift, it provides Saltzman with a great place to spend her work time and give her a lift, too. Saltzman and her Retail Therapy staff invite the greater Lansing community to “come in and get to know us.” She welcomes feedback and suggestions. In appreciation for the opportunity to serve the community, Saltzman will participate in upcoming fundraisers to benefit local child and family charities. She has two events planned. In early May, she will participate in a fashion show sponsored by the Women’s Council of Realtors of Lansing. In June, Retail Therapy will help other businesses in Okemos “Celebrate Downtown Okemos” marking the second year of this event. Retail Therapy 5100 Marsh ROAD, Suite B-1, Okemos (517) 574-4427 www.iloveretailtherapy.com facebook.com/shopretailtherapy
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.