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Co-owners Gina Lieser, left, and Stacey Roberts stand amid the eclectic mix of merchandise in their New London boutique The Happy Sol. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

New shop offers unique clothing, gifts for women

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business Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

NEW LONDON -- The owners of The Happy Sol want their shop to appeal to all five senses, so their boutique has music playing and scented gifts to greet customers with a bit of perfume in the air.

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The shop has gift items to please the eye and the soft touch of beautiful clothing.

And, "everybody gets a chocolate," said co-owner Gina Lieser. "We wanted to have a bright, happy retail therapy experience."

Lieser and co-owner Stacey Roberts opened The Happy Sol in August on New London's Main Street. Sol is Spanish for sun.

The shop offers several brands of denim, "statement" tops and jackets, jewelry, accessories and gift items. Where they can, they give preference to clothing, jewelry and other products made in the USA.

The walls, painted in medium shades of yellow, gold, blue and green, are covered with clocks, frames and other wall decorations. They offer home fragrances and a line of natural cleaning products. Bookends and figurines are scattered throughout

A collection of humorous, whimsical gift items for women includes napkins, socks, mugs and tiny flasks.

When it comes to their gift items, they said, they try to complement what other Main Street shops carry, to offer a full shopping experience to New London visitors.

Roberts said they have sought comfortable, good quality clothing -- "fashion and function" to fit women in a large range of sizes and ages.

On a recent day, Roberts said, they were able to help two customers, one in her 70s and another in her 50s, find outfits to wear to weddings. The same day saw customers in their 30s who were happy with the selection, too.

"It's fun to see women be happy," Roberts said. "We try to listen to our customers and try to give that personal touch."

The women said they did a lot of research and shopping, including lots of visits to boutiques.

The merchandise is "stuff we couldn't find around here," Lieser said.

Roberts said they only order six of any particular piece, so their customers aren't likely to see other women wearing the same top at a party.

Roberts and Lieser previously worked together at United Way. When Roberts left to have more time for her family, she and Lieser talked about how much they'd liked working together.

What started as an offhand statement -- "We should open a business together" -- gradually grew into a full-blown idea. Eventually last year they decided it was time to do it or to forget about it.

When they decided they were going ahead, they did their research, developed a business plan and scouted locations.

The Happy Sol is in a former dance studio next door to the Latte da Espresso coffee shop. With the help of husbands, kids and other family, the women remodeled and painted the shop. They kept the floors, knocked out some walls in the front and added walls for fitting rooms and a storage area in the back.

"We wanted to be in New London because it's a shopping destination," Lieser said.

"You can spend a day here," Roberts said, noting that they've had customers from St. Cloud, Paynesville, Granite Falls and the Twin Cities.

The community has a close-knit business community that works well together, they said.

Businesses are working together on several upcoming promotions, including Divas on Detour, an Oct. 20 Ladies Night with a road construction theme because of the street work going on in downtown New London.

The shop's hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Find them on Facebook at "The Happy Sol" and on the web at www.thehappysol.com.

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