Uniqueness, spunk make store a delight | ParkRecord.com

Uniqueness, spunk make store a delight

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

Claudia Wilson is an educated woman.

With a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Westchester and a master’s degree in food and nutrition from the University of Utah, she was more than qualified to fill her position as head sports nutritionist for the Utes, a position she had for 10 years.

But then, at the age of 40-something, with three children in tow, Wilson left her background in health science for a new scientific field fashion.

"I’ve always loved clothes and I’ve always wanted to try having my own little boutique," Wilson said. "I got to the point where I wanted to say that I had tried it. I didn’t want to look back on my life and regret not doing it."

Wilson started Whimsy, a high-end, fashion-forward boutique in Salt Lake City, almost two and a half years ago. Although the store had moderate success at selling high-priced clothes, Wilson reversed gears and reformatted the store. She ended up with high success selling moderately priced clothes.

With the success of the Salt Lake City store, Wilson wanted to expand. She added two partners, Carol Phillips and Cathy Francis, and decided they needed a new store.

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"We realized there wasn’t a moderately priced boutique in Park City," she said. "We came here wanting to appeal to the locals, but not many people know where we are. The people who love us love us, and everyone else just doesn’t know about us yet."

The Park City store is nestled neatly at Bonanza and Prospector, in Prospector Square. The mannequins in the large front window showcase the unique style Wilson has adopted for Whimsy.

"The Park City locals need a unique place to shop that’s affordable," Wilson said. "You don’t want to spend a billion dollars on something that might not be in style next year."

Using an unabashedly feminine style, and only reordering her "staple items," Wilson said she attracts everyone from pre-teens to grandmas.

"We always have Baby Phat jeans and we always have Mod Bod and Shade clothing for layering," Wilson said. "Other than that, we try really hard not to reorder because no one wants to be caught wearing the same thing as someone else."

Layering is a trend Wilson said is likely to be around for a while. A corner of the store is dedicated to Mod Bod and Shade, but the other clothes can be worn with or without layers.

"We wanted a store where anyone can come in and find something they like, but we wanted it to be a little on the edge and to be fashion forward," she said. "Working with layering helps everyone wear these styles. The layering pieces just allow everyone to be comfortable."

Although Wilson said she doesn’t cater to any specific age demographic, she said she does want to provide a store locals can call their own. She also wanted to be able to provide a place where middle-aged women could find clothes that suited a youthful look.

"Since I’m in my 40s, I understand that people my age want to look good," she said. "There are a lot of 40- and 50-year-olds who want to dress funkier, but don’t want to look like they’re trying too hard."

Wanting to be a moderately-priced-boutique-for-everyone, Wilson also included two personal touches to make shopping easier on everybody. At the back of the store is a toy area for children, and near the dressing rooms there are comfortable seats and a magazine rack, complete with everything from ESPN to Elle.

But even with all the work she’s done to appeal to Park City locals, Wilson said she is still hoping for more word of mouth to get around.

"It’s been great, for just opening and being a brand new business, but is it at the level of the Salt Lake store? No, not yet."

Despite some days at Whimsy being slower than Wilson would like, she said she enjoys what she does.

"After all that science and structured thinking, I’m really sowing wild oats," she said. "My three boys call the store my ‘foo foo outlet.’ It allows me time to play dress up."

Whimsy is located at 1685 Bonanza Drive in Park City, and at 2000 E. 2700 S. in Salt Lake City, and can be reached at (435)658-4866. Whimsy is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.