Photo by Stephanie Colgan
Poppy Togs and Clogs
Owning a neighborhood boutique fulfills a lifelong dream for Jill Henderson.
To understand what Poppy Togs and Clogs is, it helps to know what it isn’t. It isn’t located near other boutiques. It isn’t fancy. Frankly, it isn’t the type of shop that tends to get a lot of magazine coverage. The clothes aren’t beholden to trends; the space—around the corner from the St. Clair Broiler on a four-lane stretch of Snelling Avenue—is a bit scrappy.
But then, that scrappiness has become a point of pride for owner Jill Henderson and part of the appeal for her customers, who tend to be busy moms and working women from the surrounding neighborhoods of Mac-Groveland and Highland. They love the ease and convenience of both the store itself and the merchandise.
“We’re come as you are, and people appreciate that level of comfort,” Henderson says. “If I’m wearing lipstick, it’s a good day.”
Henderson opened Poppy Togs and Clogs a year and a half ago with the goal of grounding her career near her St. Paul home and young twin boys. Travel had been a near-constant reality of her career in retail buying and product development.
At first she tried selling a little of this, a little of that—gifts, clothing, and clogs. Since Poppy took over the space that had been home to Peapods Natural Toys and Baby Care (which moved to Como), Henderson hedged her bets, filling nearly half the store with baby gifts, gear, and apparel—even some secondhand onesies. But she quickly noticed that her customers were bypassing cute baby things to get to the women’s dress racks.
“The dress can be the most forgiving piece of clothing,” Henderson says. Add shoes and accessories and you’re good to go.
The more Henderson brought in what she likes to wear—colorful, patterned, casual dresses and bohemian-inspired tops from funky brands such as Desigual—the better it sold.
“I’m surprised and thrilled that women’s apparel ended up being the fastest horse in the race,” Henderson says. She is adamant not only about unique styling and flattering fit, but price point. Most Poppy dresses sell for $88 or less. Her current favorite is $58. She made an exception for local designer Laura Hlavac, whose dresses range from $90 to $120, but only because of the quality fabric and easy, modern flair. Henderson plans to bring in more local lines.
For St. Paul shoppers, Poppy has become the antidote to slick mall stores and upscale boutiques. What it lacks in the way of polish and premium denim only seems to make this shop more compelling. 251 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul, 612-236-3660, poppytogsandclogs.com