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If you want to know why small businesses offer something that cannot be found at malls and shopping outlets, take a trip to Pippy and Lily, a fashion accessory and home decor boutique along a quaint commercial strip in Flushing.
The store, at 161-05 29th Ave., only opened in November but its hardwood floors, fireplace and smart furniture make it seem like the shop has somehow been transported to Queens after existing for decades in Europe.
The owner, Anita Manfredonia, had always wanted to open up her own shop, but after a career in the big-box retail industry, she wanted something more intimate.
Pippy and Lily offers her customers an array of trendy jewelry, handbags, leather goods and knick-knacks selected by Manfredonia at large expos in the city, where designers from around the world showcase their newest creations a few times a year. But in addition to getting a unique array of items, shoppers also get Manfredonia herself. And that might be one of her most valuable selling points.
Many people pop into the store just to chat, and make a point to do so regularly. Manfredonia has been known to takes calls on her cellphone from customers wondering if the store could be open just a little earlier or later than normal. She obliges. The entrepreneur also gift wraps items and has even delivered them on occasion.
In an effort to make the small strip more a part of the community, she has partnered with a wine shop down the street, called Winery, and will host tastings at the boutique. An event called Girls’ Night Out is in the works as well.
Before Pippy and Lily, the space used to be an antiques store where Manfredonia had sold some of her jewelry and accessories. The neighbors loved her stuff, and when Manfredonia decided to take over the lease, her loyal customers promised they would keep coming to support the business.
The doors were set to open in early November, but then Superstorm Sandy hit and, in addition to causing unprecedented destruction along the Eastern Seaboard, the hurricane downed trees and cut power to many parts of Flushing.
“How could I ask people to come and spend money at a new store when some of them didn’t have a roof?” she said.
But they came regardless, keeping the shop in business. Manfredonia’s extra efforts to take care of her neighborhood means the neighborhood also takes care of her.
“I feel so blessed that I have these people,” she said, describing the residents in the area as an interesting mixture of Americans and Europeans. “Everybody has a story, and they are so supportive.”
Nearly on cue, an older woman with a German accent strolled into the store and called out Manfredonia by name. As she perused some of the items in the store, the woman chatted about the window dressings she had also ordered from Pippy and Lily, since Manfredonia offers that service along with upholstery.
“Anita has the best taste,” the woman said before leaving.
Others in the neighborhood share that opinion, and Manfredonia hopes to eventually get shoppers from all over Queens to come see what they have been missing.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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