Warren Village is being transformed as four Warren Women have created a thriving retail community in the heart of town. The four are Rita Ioannidis, owner of the Warren Art Gallery, Lisa Reisner, owner of Someday Boutique, and Sasha Walsh and Sasha Lyons, owners of Forage and Finery.
“I grew up here and Warren was never a place to hang out and shop,” said Sasha Lyons of Forage and Finery. However, as Sasha Walsh pointed out, people are slowly realizing that Warren Village is more than just a swim spot with a sandwich shop.
“Warren Village has become a renaissance town where there’s a lot of smaller businesses thriving,” said Walsh. Customers of The Warren Store are discovering these new shops.
“To those customers, we are a happy little find,” said Walsh.
One might be surprised to hear that foot traffic in all three stores has only increased during the pandemic. “Things at the art gallery are booming,” said Ioannidis. “In three months, I made more than I made all last year.” Reisner, owner of Someday Boutique, said her upscale consignment shop has been doing better during the pandemic as well.
Each shop owner has unique theories as to why their business are thriving now. “Second-home owners are here and instead of staying just for the weekend, they are living here full time. So now, they are finally looking at their walls and realizing: we need art,” said Ioannidis.
As for why people are turning to upscale consignment, Resiner theorized that people are driven to buy her products out of nostalgia for a night out. “We are selling more fun and whimsical pieces because people are looking forward to a time when they can go back to putting on a sequin dress or a high heel,” said Reisner.
Forage and Finery owners, Walsh and Lyons, said that with state pandemic-related restrictions, more Vermonters are doing day trips, rather than traveling to out-of-state cities or parks for the weekend. “We see a lot of day trippers checking out new areas of Vermont,” said Walsh.
The Art Gallery was the first of the three shops to open in 2018. Forage and Finery came next, opening its doors to the public at the start of the pandemic in 2020. Shortly after, in August of 2020, Someday Boutique opened.
All three stores came to life thanks to the get-after-it attitude of their owners. When asked what advice they would give other women looking to start a business, Ioannidis said, “Just do it. Don’t think about it. Believe in yourself.”
Reisner drew motivation to open her store from her children. “Every time I got scared I would think, what am I showing them? I kept thinking about my girls the whole way.”
Walsh on the other hand, was motivated to fill the big shoes of her hard-working family. “I come from a family of extremely crazy driven women,” said Walsh. “My parents are both entrepreneurs. They said go for gold. Go big or go home.”
For Lyons, the “where” was just as important as the “what” when it came to starting a business. Lyons has developed a newfound appreciation for The Valley in her adult life. “I had to leave many times before I found out how special it was. I was searching for a place that felt like home, that felt like a community. I was trying to find another place. Then I realized there’s no place like the Valley. It’s so special.”