Serendipity isn't just the name of the accessories boutique in Market Square owned and operated by Pete and Kimberly Coppola of Pleasant Hills. It's how the shop got its start through what the couple calls a series of "fortunate accidents."
More than a decade ago, Pete worked in the restaurant business. His original plan was to open a small shop inside. But after he was injured in a car accident, his wife opened a 68-square-foot jewelry boutique in the restaurant while her husband recovered. After a year, they expanded to a 1,200-square-foot boutique at Oxford Centre, Downtown, which they called home for about four years.
Then, in what could be considered a risky move, Serendipity moved to Market Square before a $5 million renovation kicked off in August 2009. The plaza and surrounding streets turned into a giant construction mess for a year. But the store survived to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.
"At the time, this was going to be the next retail mecca," Pete said.
Market Square evolved instead into a restaurant hub, but the Coppolas are happy with the store's street-level location. Plus, they're noticing a pickup in shoppers as more people live Downtown or visit Market Square to take in activities during the holidays or summer months.
The Coppolas pride the store in staying six to eight months ahead of trends through research, regular trips to New York City and relationships they maintain with designers. They've also been featured in the industry magazine Accessories.
The boutique carries jewelry, hats, handbags, scarves, fingerless gloves and an assortment of other fashionable knick-knacks. About half of the merchandise is American-made. Prices range from a few bucks to several hundred dollars.
What will the next decade bring? Possibly an expansion, or maybe franchising, the couple said.
"We already have our nieces saying, 'Listen, we're going to take over,' " Pete said.
Serendipity is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Information: www.serendipityaccessories.com or 412-325-1122.
If I could collaborate with any designer, it would be ...
Kimberly: Vince Camuto.
Pete: Giorgio Armani.
My favorite part about owning a boutique Downtown is ...
Kimberly: The area where we are located has transformed into a charming, trendy spot and yet still has a quaint feel. It's a great neighborhood business where most often the owners are there working their business. I love being a part of all the entertainment and activities that happen in the square.
Pete: Relationships with the other small business owners, along with the friendships of our clients and new Downtown neighbors.
If I could have lunch with anyone, living or deceased, it would be ...
Kimberly: My gram. We used to come Downtown to shop when I was a child all the time. We would dress up, have lunch at the Tic Toc [in the former Kaufmann's, now Macy's] and then the rest of the day we went all over town.
Pete: My father, who was my mentor and best friend. He opened my eyes to business at an early age and always told me, "Be your own boss."
My favorite place to eat in Pittsburgh is ...
Kimberly: The "O," the Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland.
Pete: Mallorca, South Side.
My favorite item in my closet is ...
Kimberly: So difficult to choose. I can think of at least six off the top of my head. But I guess my very favorite is my navy blue Italian leather jacket, very tailored with leather lace trim accented with studs and Swarovski crystal rondelles. It feels like heaven on my body (lol).
Pete: Shoes I had made in Capri, Italy, on vacation.
I couldn't live without ...
Kimberly: My husband.
Pete: A challenge.
My ideal weekend would consist of ...
Kimberly: Sleeping in, a big diner breakfast, and lounging in a quiet pool sipping on a skinny strawberry margarita. Then grilling out for a late dinner.
Pete: A summer weekend in New York with Kim enjoying the street fairs and whatever the day brings, ending with dinner outside in Little Italy.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was ...
Kimberly: Never judge others for their differences -- embrace it. It's what makes the world interesting.
Pete: Manage your personal life as successfully as your professional life.