By Lisa Capobianco
Looking back on their years growing up together, Traci Selinske and Suzanne Shamleffer have always wanted to open their own business. Having a passion for fashion, these two sisters not only played “dress up” as children, but also played the role of store owners, pretending to “sell” clothes to their loved ones.
Today, Selinske and Shamleffer do not have to “pretend” being store owners, since the pair opened their own upscale consignment boutique in Plantsville called “Posh Pear.”
“Ever since I could remember, since high school, I’ve always wanted to open a store, and I always thought of opening some kind of clothing store,” said Selinske.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” added Shamleffer.
With over 20 years of experience in retail, Selinske has specialized in women’s clothing and accessories and received her degrees in retailing and interior design. She worked for another consignment store for over a year before opening Posh Pear in January.
Shamleffer, who has a Masters Degree in Business Administration, previously worked in corporate for 12 years before taking a few years off to raise her children. With over 15 years of experience in accounting, Shamleffer has applied her business expertise to theboutique. When Shamleffer was helping Selinske get the business started, the sisters decided to run Posh Pear together, given the different skills they acquired during their careers and their common love for fashion.
“We have two very different strengths,” said Selinske, who also took some time off to raise her children. “I’ve always loved consignment because I love shopping, I love a bargain.”
“It was just a really good mix to do it together,” said Shamleffer.
From upscale women’s clothing to handbags and accessories to shoes and jewelry, Posh Pear offers customers a variety of items whether they are looking for designer apparel or vintage finds. Both Shamleffer and Selinske carefully select those consignment items to feature the latest trends in the store. The clothing they sell is no more than two years old, and is in new or like-new condition. They also accept vintage pieces depending on the style and condition. Items cost generally one-third of retail value.
“We try to be particular about what we’re taking in,” said Selinske, noting how being selective with their items helps customers find their treasure in a short amount of time. “We want it to look like a higher-end boutique but with consignment pricing.”
Located at 991 South Main Street in Plantsville, Posh Pear not only sells women’s clothing and accessories, but is also carries shabby chic and modern country furniture and a number of local artisan items such as pottery, handmade bath products, and bracelets made of recycled guitar strings.
Both Selinske and Shamleffer pick out the furniture themselves and find ways to put a spin on the different pieces. Between using special paint and stenciling, the sisters have found different techniques to give each piece of furniture its own style.
“Our furniture has been well received,” said Selinske, adding that her background in interior design played a role in her decision feature furniture pieces in the boutique. “Every piece is one of a kind.”
Besides buying the furniture themselves, Selinske and Shamleffer said they have also started to buy furniture directly from customers.
“They can bring in pictures of something they have and… we’ll just purchase it from them to put our twist on it,” said Selinske, adding that turning the furniture into “shabby chic” pieces give them a comfortable feel.
Shamleffer added that they have also started to conduct custom work on furniture that customers already own.
“We’re starting to offer decorating services and color consultations,” Shamleffer said.
Looking ahead, Selinske and Shamleffer said they hope to expand their store in the future, and have explored different possibilities of how their business can evolve more. But, for now, the sisters said they hope to continue providing customers with a “unique” experience, promoting a theme of reuse and repurpose. Between embellishing chandeliers and transforming old bedspreads into curtains for the dressing room, the pair has created an “eco-friendly” theme with the style of their boutique.
“One thing that we wanted to do when we opened the store was make it a unique shopping experience for people,” said Selinske. “Everything in the store was repurposed.”
“We’re hoping to make it into a store people can embrace,” said Shamleffer. “It depends on where the road takes us—we definitely plan to grow in the next few years.”