Walk into Relish Inspired Attire in Traverse City and it’s likely that Simon will greet you right at the door. The two-year-old black pug has become a mascot of sorts for the women’s clothing store located in the Warehouse Market building.
“Simon is always in fashion,” store owner Tracey Gabel says. “He’s trending for 2015.”
Simon is not only a cute face at the door he has also helped some customers feel more at home to shop and look around in the women’s clothing store that stocks well made, cute clothing at affordable prices, in sizes ranging from XS-3X and for an age group that Tracey loosely describes as “young teens to women 70+.”
“There are some customers who are shy or don’t want to talk but once they see Simon they usually open up a bit more,” Tracey says. “I have a couple of customers who come just to see Simon because he makes them so happy.”
Tracey opened her store in June 2012 after coming up with the name “Relish” at a lunch date/brainstorming session at the House of Doggs.
“I turned around and a girl was taking a bite of a hot dog with about two inches of relish on the top. And I thought, ‘Relish yes that’s it.’ And my one girlfriend was like no way and my other one who’s super fashionable said yes.”
They continued to brainstorm names, but she kept going back to it.
“I put a tagline “inspired attire” to clarify. I only get a few people who say, ‘oh I thought it was food,'” she says. “While my one friend thought it just meant condiment, it really means to hold on to something or to love something.”
She says things are better now, after a year where she was one of the only tenants in the Warehouse Market building as it was being remodeled. Now the building is open and some tenants have moved in. With the opening of BLK MRKT just down the hall, she says she has seen an increase in foot traffic thanks to BLK MRKT sending people down the hall after a coffee break.
One thing that hasn’t changed in three years is Relish’ commitment to affordable shopping. Tracey says that she’s always looking out for great deals when she goes shopping and wants her customers to have a similar experience.
- Jean Jacket: Nostalgia, $55
- Skirt: Melody, $45
- Shirt: Neesha, $35
“I have always been a bargain shopper so it’s hard to sell things for a lot, unless it’s worth it,” she says.
She stocks clothing that costs a little bit more, brands like Effie’s Heart, Dear Creatures and Tulip, but she also has a wide assortment of reasonably priced items available.
“I carry DownEast and they have the cutest clothes, they’re really well made and their price range is from $20-$50.”
About 5-6 times a year Tracey goes “to market” to check out the latest trends and buy clothing for Relish. Even after 20 years in the fashion business, she admits that the first time she went, she relied on her intuition to select clothing.
“I said I guess I’ll just pick things that I like and we’ll see how it goes… and it just worked,” she says. “I would just say oh my gosh, I love this and I love this and this and then other people loved it too so that made me happy.”
“I have good taste. I’m so glad,” she says laughing.
Relish also carries candles, cards, bags, jewelry (a lot of it is handcrafted), journals, fedora’s and a few shoe brands including Sperry’s.
Spring shipments are coming into the store at least once a week and Tracey says some of her regulars make a weekly visit to check out the latest finds.
Spring trends, says Tracey are pretty varied and include floral, jumpsuits, long plaid shirts (“like dress long”), lace, tulle (“it’s like the grown up tutu style”) and denim (“it’s always in, but denim shirts seem to be coming back”).
Relish is open everyday from 10-6 Monday—Friday, on Saturdays from 10—4 and closed on Sundays. When Relish is open Simon will be there. “Simon is here everyday even if I’m not here,” Tracey says. “It’s his routine.”