Charm doesn’t draw a crowd. That was the tough lesson for Allee Metro Chic, the St. Paul boutique named for the charming cobblestone alley that led to its door off Snelling Avenue.
Bolstered by the enthusiasm of those shoppers that did wander down the alley, Allee’s mother-daughter owners Kelissa Stempski and June Berkowitz moved late last year to the former L’atelier Couture storefront along one of the busiest stretches of Selby Avenue—near stores, salons, restaurants, and Nina’s Café, which Berkowitz also owns.
The new space is considerably larger, so they turned over the lower level to home store Assez Bon, which specializes in vintage home furnishings that are the perfect complement to Allee’s European flair.
As for the food, there’s a hit-and-miss quality. The good news is that in the time since it opened in September, there’s already been at least one major overhaul that included reducing prices and increasing serving sizes. As the winnowing continues, I hope the reliability factor will increase.
“We’re getting so many more people stopping by—it’s not even just about shopping. They might be walking in the neighborhood and come in, which is exactly what you want,” Stempski says.
Bringing in home furnishings broadens the appeal. Assez Bon owner Rebecca Schissel, an experienced collector, lets instinct be her guide in filling her sun drenched shop with romantic pieces, large and small.
Dresses are still the main attraction at Allee. There are styles that you might wear to a party, but the more important statement is dresses so easy and pretty you’d want to wear them every day—like they do in Paris. This spring, Allee will add to its growing assortment of chic shoes you won’t find at department stores.
Stempski and Berkowitz are living the fantasy of many mothers and daughters: They go on buying trips together and base their orders on styles that work for both mother, 50, and daughter, 23. “She might do it with a skirt and I’d wear jeans,” Stempski says. “But we’re looking for pieces that work for everyone.” Allee may have given up the alley, but it hasn’t lost its charm.
Allee Metro Chic
493 Selby Ave., St. Paul