Collingswood resident Sara Villari opened the sister location to her Passyunk Avenue storefront last week. The Haddon Avenue shop carries greeting cards and gift wrap, home goods, candles, and chocolates.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 31, 2017
After months of renovations, Sara Villari finally will get to cut the ribbon on Occasionette, her Collingswood-based gifts, goods, and stationery store, at noon August 3.
Last week, Villari wrapped work on the spacious, contemporary gift shop she’d built from the bones of the dilapidated former Collingswood Variety Store.
It was a collective effort. She built the fixtures in the shop with her husband, Erik. She completed the tiled walkway that welcomes guests with a cursive “Hello,” with her dad, Val. Pegboards salvaged from the former Variety Store line the walls.
A display from her neighbors at Cabinets of Collingswood is forthcoming. So is a sign to match the shop’s Collingswood-blue facade, which Villari chose for its European-style flair.
“I wanted it to stand out on the street, but look like it had been there forever,” she said.
The Haddon Avenue store is laid out similarly to its Passyunk Avenue cousin, with a floor plan and flow that Villari said approximates that of her Philadelphia shop.
Their inventories are comparable, too, with a few local differences. Chocolatiers Chuck and Melissa Crandley have stocked a display of Mecha Chocolates in the Haddon Avenue shop, which also carries Dilo candles from Collingswood candlemaker David DiLorenzo.
“Local and handmade isn’t our only focus, but it’s nice when we find lines that happen to be handmade and local,” Villari said. “It’s cool to be working with someone else who’s just as invested in their small business, and who cares about Collingswood.”
She’s also looking forward to using the larger Collingswood storefront to demo products that she hasn’t yet tried out at her Philadelphia shop.
Villari wants to test out some exclusive goods she’s designing for the Haddon Avenue location, including items from her Girls Can Tell line.
She promises a depth of holiday gifts this fall, from vintage decor to seasonal lines; presents that are “perfect for the person you didn’t know you were looking for.
“Our only goal is to be a pleasant place,” Villari said; “to have you leave happier than when you came in.”
Fun and funny are two key characteristics she uses when selecting inventory: Villari is “delighted when I see something that I haven’t seen before, or haven’t seen in a long time, or feel like it’s super-useful and well-designed.
“If it makes me smile, that’s the biggest checkbox,” she said.
Her inventory is selected as much for its affordability, whether patrons are shopping for a $5 novelty item or a $100 wedding gift.
The bulk of it goes for $15 to $30, which Villari describes as the sweet spot for keepsakes.
“We’re always very aware of how much we’re going to have to retail something for,” she said.
“You’re not going to get too much sticker shock when you pick things up here.”
Don’t see something you’d like, or want to pitch a product you think would be perfect for Occasionette? Villari accepts feedback at email@example.com.
Well-behaved dogs and window shoppers are always welcome, she said.
Villari wants guests to feel comfortable just stopping in to browse, or chatting with a neighbor.
“To just kind of be a space for community to happen, that’s a big overarching goal of ours, and always has been,” she said.
Occasionette is located at 724 Haddon Avenue in Collingswood. The shop is open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 856-854-0111, visit occasionette.com or follow the store on Instagram.
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