In 2005, Collier West opened for business in the Short North. Six years later, the boutique −known for one-of-a-kind objets from around the globe− is moving from its current home at 787 N. High St. to Brooklyn, New York.
Favorable coverage in the New York Times and Lucky magazine nudged Collier West’s co-owners, Suzi West and Mary Jo Collier Pile, to finally make an address change. However, West had been contemplating a move to Brooklyn for three years, carefully studying consumer behaviors and demographics in the area. Her idea inched closer to reality when she unexpectedly found a Brooklyn storefront for lease by owner while walking the neighborhood on foot during a recent trip.
The owner turned out to be West’s “retail soulmate” (her words), having made a living in the antiques business for the last 30 years.
“He’s a native New Yorker who wants a big house and a yard,” she says, adding that these days he longs to “retire, travel, and enjoy life.”
However, that doesn’t mean he was willing to hand over his prime real estate to just anybody. In fact, West was “head to head with a very big national retailer” for the space, she says.
Eventually, Collier West’s indie status coupled with West’s desire to better the surrounding community won over the owner and she’s slated to take possession in early fall. (As a member of the Short North Business Association, the Short North Wedding Walk collective, and the Home-on-High collective, community involvement is nothing new to West.)
Though Collier West has curated goods for several big box retailers, including J Crew’s Madewell brand, Aeropostale, and Kiehl’s, West advocates shopping locally and supporting independent businesses whenever possible.
She’s also a proponent of selling other local merchants’ work (wooden teethers by Little Alouette, for example) in her own store− and selling her work at other local retailers (pieces from Pont Neuf, the jewelry line she launched in 2009, are and will continue to be sold at Brigade, a Short North neighbor).
“I like to think karma is kissing me on the forehead for all the times I’ve promoted shopping locally,” West says.
For existing retailers looking to expand, within or outside Columbus, West says that “when you begin to identify systems and best practices, you can start to think of them as replicable.”
New entrepreneurs, listen up. West has a lot to say.
“Dream big, launch small. Stay your course. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Passion opens a lot of doors, but a lack of strategy often closes them. Ask for help. Failure is a part of the growing process.
“You have to laugh a lot. Take everything with a grain of salt…but with a little lime and a shot of tequila. And, from my mentor, today’s peacock is tomorrow’s feather duster.”
To learn what Suzi West has to say about entrepreneurialism in Columbus and which local retailer will occupy Collier West’s current home, visit ColumbusUnderground.com.
To learn more about Collier West, visit CollierWest.com.
Photos by Adam Slane Photography.