With rising costs of online advertising and a saturated e-commerce market, more and more retailers are turning to temporary brick and mortar retail spaces to stand out among competition. Soleil Gray, owner of Fleet (a pop-up shop) in downtown Lewisburg, may have done just this. She opened shop this past May with plans to experiment with this location for only 6 months. The local community has been so highly supportive though that Soleil’s temporary rental is now becoming more long-term.
Located beside Stardust Cafe on E. Washington St, this pop-up shop offers an edited collection of high-quality women’s clothes and handmade jewelry. You can find dresses, jackets, shirts, pants, jumpsuits, jewelry, tote bags, and band bucket bags. Her target clientele is anyone aged 8-88. There are products for gift buyers, girls, women, and seniors. Soleil says, “I have sold to all sorts.” Her shop currently carries namebrands: Acacia, Olympia Activewear, Amuse Society, Mara Hoffman, Erika Peña. “I am always introducing new designers as I find inspired collections,” she says. We asked Soleil about more about the store and what brought her to the area.
What brought you to Lewisburg?
I fled Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. One of my store locations, called Sol Creation, was destroyed and it wasn’t viable to go back and try to run a business in the mayhem that ensued post-hurricane.
After losing Sol Creation, why did you set up shop in Lewisburg?
We chose to set up here because we have family who offered my husband and I a job and a place to stay. We literally showed up with hand luggage and nothing else. We were starting from scratch and being around family took some of the edge off.
What do you like most about Lewisburg?
Accessibility to beautiful nature
How long have you been in business?
I have owned a couple boutiques in Puerto Rico for the past 9.5 years. It’s called Sol Creation. I decided to open Fleet in May as a 6 month Pop-up so it has been open 4 months now. Fleet started here in Lewisburg.
How has the response been from the local community and tourists? Do you have regulars?
It has been a great response. Travelers and locals alike are happy to have something new and different. Variety is always good especially in small towns where it variety is scarce. I have returning customers for sure. People who come to their second home always check back to see what is new, as well as locals who are regulars.
What does Fleet mean?
Fleet was an ode to being in movement, shorted from Fleeting
Would you say that you named the store Fleet because you fled Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria in September 2017?
It wasn’t that linear, we were brainstorming and I just liked the way it sounded as well as the fact that it was a version of fleeting, something that comes and then goes which originally was the intention of the store as a Pop-up
What inspired you to work in retail?
I wanted to be closer to the source of fashion. It was always something I enjoyed but felt at the mercy of the stores I went into, I only had access to the pieces the buyers had chosen and decided that I wanted to have access to the entirety of wholesale. I wanted to be the one pulling collections together. I also have an interest in design and thought retail would be the logical first step into the industry and for me it was. I have designed a couple capsule collections and was in the process of creating another when the hurricane hit and I halted production.
What do you LOVE most about the retail industry?
Fashion, seeing designers’ seasonal collections that they create. The actual garments are what excite me the most. Fabrics, textures, prints, styles. I love to have first choice when new collections are released. I work with some really talented and innovative designers so seeing what they create is always exciting.
Hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 11:30am-5pm. Learn more @solcreationboutique on Instagram and Facebook or emai Soleil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– HashtagWV #105. September 2018.
HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks. tiktok.com/@hashtagwv