A successful shopping experience takes two things: patience and a little bit of trust. Patience, first, for that initial slow stroll—you must touch everything; it is the shopper’s law. The trust comes with a well-curated selection. It’s a certain peace of mind when every item on the shelves has been placed there with the utmost care. The In-House Boutique, tucked snugly inside Wickman’s Garden Village, hits the sweet spot between relaxed and carefully curated.
Wickman’s Garden Village was originally established as Emhoff Greenhouses in 1922. The operation changed hands several times and was purchased by Glenn and Donna Kristek in 1972. The five-acre complex houses the boutique, the Saltbox Gift Shop, the garden center and greenhouse, a flower shop, a landscaping and irrigation center and a water garden.
Donna opened the In-House Boutique in 1987—30 years ago, Boutique Manager Sharon Miller excitedly pointed out. Donna and Glenn have since sold the business to their son, Chris, who runs the operation as president alongside Vice President Jim Simmerman. The boutique, however, is steered by a team of three: Chris’s wife, Amber, and Jim’s wife, Lana, keep a special eye on the boutique, which Miller manages with undeniable flair.
The In-House Boutique is placed behind the Saltbox Gift Shop, allowing shoppers to wander in as they explore the complex. The calm, quiet space is peppered with friendly chatter as Miller greets each shopper like an old friend. The boutique features a selection of upscale casual women’s clothing, accessories and jewelry arranged in a way that invites shoppers to take their time. The clothing is definitely geared toward a mature demographic, but the quality is undeniable. The jewelry, however, is the standout item. “People come here really for the jewelry because it’s unique,” Miller says. She holds up a bold silver statement necklace. It’s a Moda piece—one of the boutique’s best-selling jewelry brands. Miller also points out the Dolcezza apparel scattered throughout the shop. It’s a new brand with art prints transferred directly onto the clothing. “It’s like art you can wear,” she says, indicating several flowing tops and structured jackets.
If good shopping takes patience and trust, the In-House Boutique at Wickman’s fits the bill. The laid-back boutique is perfect for a leisurely browse, and it’s obvious that every item for sale has been carefully selected. Rest easy: No matter what you choose, it’ll be high-quality. That’s good shopping.
Q&A with Amber Kristek and Sharon Miller from the In-House Boutique
417 Magazine: What sets the In-House Boutique apart from other local retailers?
Sharon Miller: We pick out every single item ourselves. Every piece of jewelry, every piece of clothing is picked out by us. So [the selection] is really unique; it’s not just ordered in out of a catalog. It’s all hand-picked by us.
417 Magazine: Name three brands that shoppers absolutely can’t miss at your boutique.
Sharon Miller: Berek is a line we’ve carried for years, which is a good standby for us. There’s Dolcezza, which is new for us, and it’s actually artists’ prints on fabric. That’s a lot of our spring line. A Touch of Style is a good brand of jewelry for us.
417 Magazine: What is your idea of a great shopping experience?
Amber Kristek: We want to have a store that everyone feels comfortable coming [into]. We don’t want you to feel like you’re not dressed up enough or like you’re too dressed up; we just want to have a welcoming atmosphere.
Sharon Miller: Right—you really don’t have be dressed up to come in here. You can be in tennis shoes and old clothes to buy something to go to a party. We’re connected to the garden center, too, so you don’t have to be dressed up at all. You want to come into the boutique in shorts or sweats? Hey, it’s fine with us.