by Rod Lee
St. Patrick’s Day in the Blackstone Valley may not mean parades like the ones that take place in Boston and Worcester, a widespread lifting of a pint at the local pub (there aren’t that many such establishments around these parts) or much of the other fanfare that accompanies celebrations of the life of “The Apostle of Ireland”—a fifth-century bishop and missionary around whom great legend is built.
In fact, a tour of several stores for retailers who are pushing merchandise to commemorate the holiday left us virtually empty-handed.
At Katalina’s Boutique on Providence Road in Northbridge, Owner Kathy Tonry was kind enough to organize a display of some of the green-themed items she is carrying. Scarves, flasks, socks, jewelry.
At Rita’s on Main St. in Uxbridge, Owner Pat Benoit, who is of Irish heritage, said St. Patrick’s Day is not a huge focal point in her shop, which she describes as “three stores in one: a dollar store; a store for home décor and gifts and a store for second-hand things.”
We didn’t hit pay dirt either at Simply Posh, a consignment boutique on North St. in Douglas that boasts a scintillating collection of women’s clothing and accessories in tastefully appointed space. There, however, we discovered the next best thing in Owner Shannon Roddy, whose great grandparents were Irish (O’Connell and O’Donnell) and whose husband David Roddy’s family does in fact hail from the Emerald Isle.
Mr. Roddy is in the Merchant Marine and so spends a significant amount of his time “on ships.” Ms. Roddy works full-time in sales for RSIG. “One of my clients is Harpoon Brewery,” she said on March 1st. So, while Ms. Roddy is “very Polish” (her maiden name is Woloski), there is a strong streak of appreciation for the Irish in her blood. In fact, she and her husband vacationed in Ireland two years ago.
Open only since last June, Simply Posh appears to be fulfilling Ms. Roddy’s vision for what a consignment boutique should be. Part-time help is assisting her in bringing this vision to life. The introduction of what part-timer Sandra Shoup describes as “a vintage department” consisting of clothing manufactured “prior to 1995” is one example. “It’s better quality than what is being made off-shore today, where there’s no quality control,” Ms. Shoup said in pointing out a corner of the display area that has been set aside for this apparel.
Another indication that Simply Posh is at the forefront in “new” is “The Posh Private Party,” which Ms. Roddy identifies as a select shopping experience “for you and your friends, coworkers, neighbors and family.” The first such after-hours gathering (a minimum of six shoppers is required), involving women from Private Designs in Oxford, was held the evening of February 27th. “It was fun,” Ms. Roddy said. Posh provides a sampling of cheese, crackers and sparkling cider as well as clothing and style advice for these functions, and the host who makes the arrangements receives 10% off her clothing purchase for every twenty-five dollars of purchases made by those accompanying her to the store.
Posh also did a customer appreciation day in February, featuring a raffle for prizes donated by local merchants.
Of her venture, Ms. Roddy says “I saw the opportunity and said let’s go with it. Consignment is in everyone’s taste.”
Fashion-oriented, she is already touting “the spring look for 2015. We will see a welcome reversal of the 90’s Grunge look, which has overstayed its welcome in fashion IMHO,” she says. “Trends and styles are picking some of the more flattering and feminine looks of the 70s. The color of the year for 2015 is marsala, a warm reddish brown with an earthiness far different from the wines and maroons of past seasons.” Marsala, she says, “lends itself to the colors of the desert and softer floral tones. In makeup, marsala is flattering to all skin tones, so look for this shade in lip color, blush, or even eye shadow.”
St. Patrick probably wouldn’t have worn marsala, but that’s beside the point.
Rod Lee is a long-time local writer and observer of the Blackstone Valley scene and current president of the Webster Square Business Association in Worcester. His most recent book is Nance’s Nook, a comic tale based on life at a small convenience store in Linwood. Email him at [email protected].