In this age of box stores and amazonian-sized websites, it's a pleasure to walk into Fancy's Folly and remember what shopping used to be like. The new store on Broad Street in Sewickley reflects the refined eye of its owner, Nancy Follett. But more importantly, it's filled with all the things that are just plain fun to buy.
Ms. Follett designs several lines of clothing and carries Pittsburgh exclusives including Lilly Pulitzer, Gretchen Scott Designs, ByPaige, Jude Connally and Boatman Geller. However, most of the store is dedicated to accessories, home decor and gifts.
Not in the mood to try anything on? Great handbags, very affordable costume jewelry, trendy Eyebops reading glasses, scarves and ties are easy to love. A wide assortment of items that can be monogrammed, from Lucite ice buckets to evening bags and plastic necklaces, fill one area. Scented soaps and candles anchor another, while colorful hand-painted tole cachepots and wine bottle coasters are stacked practically to the ceiling. Napkins and place mats, buffalo horn dishes, clear ghost chairs, needlepoint pillows, baby gifts, candies and other treats ... Everywhere there is something delightful.
It's no accident that Fancy's Folly has such an eclectic mix of wares. Ms. Follett has been in the retail business for 12 years as a top vender on the benefit trunk show circuit. She travels the country to participate in charity shopping events like the Garden Club of Allegheny County's PIZZAZZ, which opens Wednesday. From Florida to California and many places in between -- she was in St. Louis last week -- Ms. Follett has learned what people love.
"I think the shows have really helped me to develop a keen eye," says Ms. Follett. "I believe the more you see, the more refined you become. With my travels, I'm exposed to designers and manufacturers that are creating new exciting products, and that has enabled me to bring some of these fabulous finds to Pittsburgh."
A native of Greenwich, Conn., Ms. Follett imparts a sophisticated, whimsical vibe to her store. Call it country club chic. Much of her merchandise has a timeless quality, the sorts of things that have perennial appeal and could have been handed down from a generation or two earlier. In summer, the store looks resorty, but for fall Ms. Follett leans toward rustic elegance. Though she tested the waters with some pop-ups in Sewickley last winter and spring, this will be her first real holiday season, beginning on Nov. 1.
When Ms. Follett moved here six years ago with her husband, an executive with PPG, and their two sons, she immediately felt there was a need in Sewickley for a store like Fancy's Folly. Several popular gift stores had closed, and there was really no place to get wedding or hostess presents.
"I thought let's give it a try and see if it's a good fit. With the ages of my children, I wanted to be home more and I've cut my travel schedule in half. I love the shows where there are relationships, but I really wanted to pull back and focus on doing a store here. To be successful you have to go big and stay one step ahead," Ms. Follett says.
She describes her store as "classic with a heaping dollop of style -- that's my tag line."
"I definitely have been influenced by where I grew up and where my family still lives and where I have traveled. Every single thing in that store is what I think is the greatest out there. The monogrammed glasses I have are the best I have found.
"I try to hone in on finding the best, but also with consideration for the price. I don't think people need to be gouged. I want people to come in and find something that makes them really happy."
Fancy's Folly is at 427 Broad St. in Sewickley. It's open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 412-259-8645.
Marylynn Uricchio: email@example.com or 412-263-1582