SARATOGA SPRINGS — Laura Pileckas cites two main reasons for her decade of success as a women’s fashion retailer in the city: her employees and her customers.
“We’ve all kind of grown up here,” Pileckas says of the ladies who helped her build the business since she first opened its doors in April 2007. “We work with good women. We serve good women.”
The boutique at 494 Broadway carries products from nearly two dozen designers such as Free People, French Connection, Frye, Seychelles and Susana Monaco, according to a list presented on its website (www.violetsofsaratoga.com).
On Saturday, April 8, Pileckas will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Violet’s of Saratoga—located in the green Collamer Building—by offering various specials to shoppers all day.
Between 6 and 8 p.m., hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served so that customers can mingle among Violet’s clothing racks, handbags and shoes as local acoustic artist Emily Teller offers her distinct guitar rhythms and vocal sound.
“Violet’s is one of my favorite places for retail therapy, not just for the merchandise, which is always terrific and refreshed, but for the overall experience,” reports loyal customer Helen Susan Edelman. “Laura and the sales associates are always willing to give candid feedback on whether something looks great, or is best left behind.”
At the time Pileckas started her business, gas prices were heading toward $4 per gallon, a housing-market bubble was bursting, and the country was entering a long recession. Yet the faltering economy of 2007 turned out to be “a good opportunity,” she remembers, because “the only way to go was up from there.”
The economy of Saratoga Springs bucked the national trend, so Pileckas and her employees focused on catering to the area’s fashion-conscious ladies.
“People truly want to live here, work here and play here,” Pileckas says, noting how the same dynamic supports a dozen or so other women’s fashion retailers on Broadway.
Edelman, a journalist who lives in Wilton, said she strongly believes “that we have to keep our dollars downtown.” She claims to have a mailing list of women in neighboring communities who are curious about sales at Violet’s in particular.
Pileckas indicated that her husband, Paul, also has contributed to the success of Violet’s by renovating its retail space three times, utilizing his own wealth of experience as a local contractor. The couple and their three sons live in Greenfield.
In 2010 Pileckas teamed up with Connecticut native Jessica Guerin, who is expecting her first child in June. Together with Lianne Klopfer, a social media maven, and other employees, Pileckas will take on Guerin’s purchasing and managerial duties during her maternity leave.
Ashley Gardner, a spokeswoman for Saratoga Historic Properties, offered praise to Pileckas for maintaining an anchor retail outlet on the lower level of the Collamer Building. Pileckas currently occupies about 2,400 square feet of space there.
“Violet’s has been a wonderful tenant,” Gardner says. “They have been easy to work with, and an asset to the building as a destination boutique.”
Saratoga Historic Properties manages the leases for a half-dozen retail spaces and a café in the Collamer Building, in addition to about 30 office tenants located mostly on the upper floors. The offices range in size between 300 and 3,000 square feet.
Through the years Pileckas said she diversified the business by stocking popular shoes, and by routinely determining which fashion products are “demographic specific.”
Edelman said she does not “consider shopping for shoes anywhere else.”
“Violet’s rocks when it comes to seasonal sales,” she added. “It is so much fun to be able to bring home twice as much fashion for the same price you pay in a spree.”