Chelsea Morning is a store for girlfriends. That’s not a gender-orientation-related remark. I mean just what I say: if you have girlfriends of any kind, and they like girly things, take them to this store. Buy them gifts at this store. You really can’t go wrong. If you like hearts and flowers, little tea cups, lace and puppies, angels and English toilette water, scented soaps and romantic clothes, lacy undies, snuggly sweaters, and hilarious greeting cards that make you laugh with woman-oriented humor, this is the place.
In business for 25 years now, Chelsea Morning, in the Mossman Center on Montgomery, is all about romance. With soaring arias playing in the background and her beloved hound, Spencer, by her side, owner Patrice Schooley designed the store around her own interests and says it carries about half clothing and half gift items. “From the elegant to the whimsical!” she remarks.
The clothing she carries is not brand-specific, because from one season to the next a certain label may move in and out of the romantic look, and that doesn’t work for Patrice. She is careful to carry pieces that convey a tone of casual elegance, where comfort is paramount but frills reign supreme, where lace is a constant and girlishness is never out of vogue. Watching styles change over the past quarter century, Schooley has found it an interesting challenge to fill her store with pieces that fit within the romantic niche of whatever the current style may be. “Some years it’s harder than others to find clothes that suit my store, but romance always comes back. Then again, there were those Brittany Spears years…. Those were not good years for us.” Her customers range from college-age girls to ladies in their seventies. Prices at Chelsea Morning are quite reasonable, so that also helps her to attract a broad spectrum of customers.
Schooley always has a section for unique baby things which offers a constantly changing array of uber-adorable books, blankets, clothes, and toys. One of the things she loves about that baby section too is the fact that, being in business as long as she has, she has seen regular customers come in, buy things for their babies, then eventually those babies come in as adults and buy for their own offspring. “My favorite thing about having this store?” says Patrice. “The people. Definitely the customers. They’re so special.”
She describes Chelsea Morning as “a treat store.” Women come here to treat themselves and their friends. The clothes are not work clothes. They are play clothes for adults: pretty, comfy, fun, and celebratory. Clustered around the register are items from the local artists she carries: Sheryl Brewer, maker of leather and mixed-media brooches and wrist cuffs; Andrea Ryan, a jeweler utilizing Swarovski crystals and other beautiful beads; Barker’s Bakery in Jemez Springs, maker of “people cookies” for dogs.
Carrying the work of local artists and as well as designers of all kinds of fine ladies’ items is how Chelsea Morning spreads its message in a hard and troubled world: Be sweet. It goes a long way. Basically Chelsea Morning is a store all about Patrice Schooley–all about romance, sweetness, dreaming, laughing, and compassion. Twenty-five years in business is proof that Albuquerque believes in the Patrice Schooley’s of the world.
Breaking news! Chelsea Morning is moving to a new location in the historic Range Cafe building in Bernalillo. Look for them on April 1st.
Photos by Dawn Allynn