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February 17, 2009
Blush Boutique owner still has retail dreams


SACRAMENTO BEE FILE

One thing's for sure: Valerie Werder knows how to re-invent herself -- and her business. She's been the owner of Blush Boutique since first opening at N and 28th streets in March 2005 and, then, relocating to 2317 J St. almost two years ago.

Now her retail dream is taking another form. "I'm shifting with the economy," Werder says. "But I won't go away."

Her midtown lease expires at the end of April, and she's closing the physical store -- at least for now. She'll still be a part of her customers' lives, offering personal shopping and other services, including something she calls "the recession-proof closet."

"I'm not giving up," Werder says. "But I've been the only one running the show (read: store) for the last eight months. With two young children, I can't be here six days a week. But I'm hoping with this shift that I can stay alive and re-open a store in the future."

Her online shopping site - www.blushboutiqueshop.com - is still thriving, drawing customers from Seattle to the East Coast and even abroad. The Bee has featured Blush Boutique in several fashion shoots (pictured above).

"There's a woman in Turkey who shops online all the time," Werder says.

In fact, during last year's "American Idol" competition one of the dresses worn by contestant Carly Smithson was only available at Blush and its Web site. The dress sold out immediately, thanks partly to judge Simon Cowell's flattering comments about it.

"It was outrageous how many hits I got when she (Carly) wore that dress!" Werder says.

Werder hasn't stopped considering alternatives to keeping the physical boutique in place, even co-opting the space with other people or keeping it only on weekends.

"My wheels never stop spinning. It's why I took this risk in the first place," she says.

Customers have been receiving e-mails and letters about Blush's closure. So, if you haven't been, pay a visit. Online customers just click here.

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