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New Shops Offer Women Accessory Hunters Options

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Where to get the accessories your wardrobe needs

By SHANTEE WOODARDS
The Capital of Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — If she had to pick, Barb Troxell would whittle her favorite fashion accessory down to earrings.

But the Edgewater resident is just as passionate about bracelets, large, colorful handbags and just about any adornment
that has to do with feathers.

“The older I get, the bolder,” said Troxell, 65, who searched the new Lou Lou Boutique for a gift. “It takes certain accessories or jewelry to make or break a dress, jeans or shorts. You almost need earrings, and the rest comes with it.”

Troxell and other die-hard accessory hunters now have increased shopping options in downtown Annapolis. Already this spring, Lou Lou Boutique and Hobo opened in the area, selling an assortment of handbags, scarves and jewelry. The St. Mary’s County Handbag Consignment Shop plans to sell designer handbags in the city this summer.

Officials from the Annapolis Economic Development Corp. said the new shops will supplement the women’s clothing stores. They will join downtown’s existing accessories market, including shops such Hats in the Belfry, Shades Unlimited and Shades of the Bay.

“(Those shops) are going to be a wonderful asset to downtown,” AEDC President and CEO Lara Fritts said. “Let’s be honest, women love their handbags, and we love our jewelry. And if you look at who the primary consumers are, it’s women. These businesses are definitely catering to the right market.”

Last year, women’s accessories were a $29 billion industry and are expected to reach about $30 billion this year. Accessories magazine’s 2011 report showed that jewelry purchases took up more than 35 percent of this market, the largest of the classifications. Handbags came in second place, taking up nearly 30 percent of the market with $8.5 billion in sales last year.

In March, Hobo opened its flagship shop on Green Street. The business launched 20 years ago in Annapolis, but its handbags and leather goods had been sold wholesale. It considered New York, Atlanta and other markets before coming to Annapolis. From its two-story building, Koren Ray can work on new products in her second-story office and come downstairs to talk to customers.

“Wallets and handbags are very personal items for a woman,” said Ray, Hobo’s chief visionary officer. “When you walk into a dress shop or something that has a few handbags, you can get lost amidst all the other choices. That’s the difference with a whole store. It’s full of beautiful handbags and can be really enticing.”

Lou Lou Boutique also opened in March. The shop, on Main Street, sells jewelry, purses, scarves, stationary and other mementos. So far, jewelry has been a top seller, but scarves also are a favorite among customers, manager Betsy Burr said.

“(Accessories are) an easy way for a woman to make a change in her wardrobe, overall look and feel of her appearance,” Burr said. “Today, anything goes. You can really create your own style through your accessories. It’s everything across the board.”

Kimberly Hoctor set up Handbag Consignment Shop as a way to make purses from Coach, Michael Kors, Chanel and other designers more affordable. A few times a year, Hoctor travels around the state to provide “purse exchange parties.” These events are set up at a temporary venue where area consignors can provide handbags for the shop’s inventory, and pick up their own bags in exchange. The purses must be worth at least $75.

An Annapolis purse exchange party is being set up for the summer months.

“Fashion will never go out of style,” Hoctor said. “This works in a recession and when the economy is good. In a recession, you have to tailor back on buying things. (But) if you buy a designer handbag that’s affordable, it’s a win-win. In a great economy, you can sell old bags and there’s still a market for it.”

Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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