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Swank spreads its wings in new, larger space

The store hosted a shopping event to celebrate its new location.

Published Oct. 22, 2010

In a store full of 20-year-old Kim Kardashian fashionistas clicking and clacking their heels on the hard wooden floor, Columbia resident Barb Glenn asked, “Do you want to talk to me because I’m the oldest one in the store?”

The 50-something shopper swooned over the flattering pair of J Brand jeans she bought from Swank earlier this year at the fifth anniversary reopening Wednesday night.

“There are just certain things she carries that I like,” she said, pointing to the storeowner Erin Keltner with her right hand as she effortlessly balanced champagne and a shopping bag on her left.

She and other guests nibbled on sushi and cupcakes and sipped champagne against the boutique’s antique motif. Complete with three white mirrors hanging on an exposed brick wall, the store had two oversized wooden ladders to comfortably display designer fall shoes, including moccasins, wedges, suede knee-high boots and boots with fringe details.

Chic and bubbly employees chatted with Glenn and other customers at the store. They made the event fashionable and surprisingly inviting.

Even with the chilly fall weather, students and city dwellers clearly didn’t hibernate their style. Guests came in their heels, knee-high leather boots and funky blazers, and they gushed over black lace leggings with black polka dots, shape-flattering brown dresses and sweaters with fur collars.

Throughout the night, customers who signed up for the RSVP list were automatically eligible for prizes and gift baskets that included jeans, T-shirts and other free goodies from Swank.

“We wanted everyone to show up and enjoy it as much as we do,” Keltner said. “The one thing we pride ourselves on is that our customers are our friends.”

The more she talks, the more emphasis Keltner puts on the word “we” and rightfully so. Swank has a loyal fan base that clamors to the shop’s laid-back luxe glamour. The fan base follows the store, even when they move only a few buildings down the street.

“I get their e-mails, so I just RSVP'd and brought friends,” Stephens College student Afton Vaughn said, smiling. “I feel like it’s a low-key feel of what it would be like in California. Plus, I wanted to dress up.”

Keltner definitely understood the need for the venue expansion on E. Broadway.

“We moved to 913 — obviously to a much larger space, a prettier space,” she said, as she glanced around the store proudly.

The one thing Keltner and her team can be excited about with the larger space is it allows more customers to drool over more clothes. The fashionable elite savored fall designer collections, such as Juicy Couture, Greenline, True Religion and Free People.

“I love Swank because their clothes remind me of high-end clothes from Chicago, and it’s trendy,” freshman Lindsay Stevens said.

In addition to style, the new Swank also offers functionality that makes it a lot easier for customers to navigate through the store downtown as well as the store online.

“The backroom allows us to focus on the online store we opened in January,” Keltner said.

Although Swank is known for its designer clothes, the most unique pieces both online and in the store seem to be the jewelry.

“I strive to find things that are unique and things that you’re enamored with,” Keltner said.

Wrist cuffs, bangles and rings on hand mannequins adorned one of the tables at the front of the shop. Green, purple, blue and pink gemstone necklaces surround a mockingbird ring that stood out from the shuffle of jewelry.

If the turnout for the reopening is any indication of Swank’s success, then the store’s fan base will definitely grow and allow more fashion dolls to covet and love the pieces as their own.

“My girls keep calling it Swank 2.0,” Keltner said. “It’s like shopping in your well-dressed friends closet. It’s an experience.”

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