Twelve years ago, Michele Marquis had the idea to open a “girls’ night out” type of store.
She was initially going to call it Inside Out or OMG, but memories of throwing an annual “cool chick party” at her house while working in sales and marketing at The Hartford Courant led her to the name of a store for “all the cool chicks” – A Cool Chick Place, which had its soft opening on Black Friday.
Marquis modeled the store – a fusion between a vintage boutique, art shop and a place for workshops – after some shops she’s seen in North Hampton, MA and Mystic.
“It’s one of those stores you’d find on vacation,” said Marquis, who grew up in Winsted and has lived in Avon for nine years on and off.
She aims to make it affordable, which she said is an important factor when she is shopping.
A Cool Chick Place is nestled in Old Avon Village in a house-like building across from Thai restaurant. Marquis often finds herself walking people to the door when they leave like it’s her home.
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The store is full of color. Flags hung at the front window define what a “cool chick” is – “inspiring,” “fearless,” “authentic,” “loving,” “caring” and “charitable.” Avon’s cool chick is very community oriented, already donating items for fundraisers and supporting local businesses.
She couples the retail component with her role as a professional business and career transition coach, advising corporations and individuals. Marquis has developed a new niche for herself, as well, coaching artists.
“Most artists don’t do it because it’s a living. They do it because they have to,” Marquis said. “It makes their hearts sing.”
A Cool Chick Place features work from 88 artists, from jewelry, origami flowers and wine bottle lights to paintings and photographs. About half of the artists are from the Farmington Valley. Others are from out-of-state areas like Providence, RI, Western Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
“I haven’t said no to one person.” said Marquis, who has the goal of reaching 100 artists by the end of June. “It’s like a perpetual arts and crafts show.”
The store is Marquis’ first and many artists with pieces featured there have never sold their work in a shop before, “so it’s been a learning experience for us both.”
“What’s important to me is that they feel it fits with the vibe of the store,” Marquis said.
However, Marquis opted not to include consignment items in the boutique portion of the store, personally picking out the clothing, shoes, hats, purses and accessories. All of the pieces have a vintage element. Some are repurposed, such as a belt and skirt made into a purse.
“To me, I guess I look at it as art,” said Marquis.
She has the goal of opening her own A Cool Chick Place fashion line in the near future, taking vintage clothing and adding a modern flare.
The boutique doubles as a room for workshops. All the racks are on rollers, so she can move them out of the way for classes, which range from energy healing to spirit writing workshops. Nutritionist Paula Weissman, of West Hartford, is scheduled to there on June 7 at 6:30 p.m.
A sign in the boutique says, “Gather. Shop. Energize,” reinforcing how Marquis envisions A Cool Chick Place not only as a retail store, but also as a place to bring people together.
A Cool Chick Place is located in at 31 East Main St. in Old Avon Village. Store hours are: Tuesday:12 to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday:11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Individual coaching is available by appointment. For more information call 860-919-9040, visit the store’s Facebook page or follow @ACoolChickPlace on Twitter.