As SoleAmour prepared for its grand opening at a Main Street location in Andover, two women stopped in front of the display window and peered in commenting, “Oh, this is the place my friend was talking about that has really great shoes and clothes. We’ll have to come back and check it out.”
Downtown Andover has long been a destination spot for boutique shopping, but more recently, there is a new energy in the air. The number of exceptional cafes, restaurants and specialty clothing stores has increased, bringing a Newbury Street quality and vibe without the big city stress. And people are noticing.
Situated at the heart of Andover’s revitalization is SoleAmour, owned by Stephanie Sipley. The store’s recent move to 4 Main Street has increased visibility and brought in new customers. “We are seeing new faces on a daily basis,” says Sipley.
Back in 2011, Sipley noticed Andover lacked a downtown shoe store that offered accessible fashion-forward shoes. Using her depth of fashion experience and knowledge — beginning from her early days in her hometown department store to a decade-long stint in the Visual Merchandising Department at J. Crew in New York — Sipley took an opportunity to fill that niche.
To Sipley, Andover has become a great destination shopping town. Not everyone is a mall or online shopper … there are many who are looking for what a boutique has to offer. Shopping is more personalized … a social experience.” At SoleAmour, Sipley strives to provide a “coffee shop type of environment,” where customers can stroll through the racks of clothes, shoes and displays of jewelry. Sipley, who easily becomes friends with many of her customers, is usually in the store and has an uncanny knack for remembering birthdays, anniversaries and shoe sizes.
SoleAmour offers a wide range of shoes with a focus on comfort and style. Some unique brands are 5yMedio from Spain, German-based Kennel & Schmenger, and Cordani, made in Italy (and owned by Andover locals Michael and Allyson Ciccia). The jewelry that SoleAmour carries is meant to be worn and has a modern flair — Sipley calls much of the collection “diamonds with an edge.” Sipley even designs her own line of jewelry, AvaLila (named after her two daughters).
“I really look for things that are unique and special. I find brands from around the world but my ears really perk up if something is made in the U.S.,” says Sipley. “I like working with family-owned vendors who really put a piece of themselves into their products which is reflected in the quality and craftsmanship. I want people to love what they buy and it’s nice to be able to tell them more about who made it and the story behind the brand.”
Clothing runs the gamut from hand-dyed cashmere sweaters by Galadriel Mattei, to tailored blazers by Smythe, and even a brand that donates 10 percent of sales to help fight domestic violence. There’s also a range of accessories — from men’s underwear and socks by Stance, to S’well water bottles, to heart-shaped artisanal bowls. “People come in for a pair of shoes and before they know it they’ve crossed off half of their Christmas list,” says Sipley.
Sipley strives to keep the store fresh and new by changing the selections often, rotating in and out of new styles quickly. “I buy very limited quantities of the more unique pieces making them special. If you take too long to think about an item, it may be gone.”
SoleAmour expanded to Winchester in 2016 and has found its own group of enthusiastic followers. Now, people are asking, with the success of the two stores, is it time for a third? “Oh! I’m having a lot of fun with the stores. Who knows what the future will bring? But it’s a nice balance right now, I enjoy seeing new and familiar faces. I love what I do and I expect to be doing this for a long time to come.”
With such a great selection and easygoing vibe, we imagine we’ll see SoleAmour around for quite some time.
Andover, Mass. | (978) 409-1541
Winchester, Mass.| (781) 721-5300