by Lou Mancinelli
Now that 1979 Mount St. Joseph’s graduate and former St. Genevieve’s student Patricia Geppert Haber’s four children are 16 and older, and she has helped her husband develop Classic Flooring, a successful Bridgeport carpet installation and flooring company, she has the time to do what she always wanted.
This past April, she opened Gigi’s Consignment Boutique at 1511 Bethlehem Pike, down the hill in Flourtown on the left-hand side, just beyond Starbucks.
Gigi’s offers brand-name high-quality second-hand dresses, blouses, slacks and more from designers like Anne Taylor, Banana Republic, Lily Pulitzer, Nicole Miller and “lots of Bloomies items” for women and juniors. And when patrons bring in clothes, items that are not accepted on a 50-50 consignment agreement can be donated, if the customer wishes, to The Women’s Center of Montgomery County, an organization devoted to empowering female victims of domestic abuse.
“I’ve always wanted to own a boutique,” said Haber, 50, a Lafayette Hill resident and LaSalle University sociology graduate who was raised in Flourtown. “I had four children and didn’t have the time when I was young. Now all my kids are between 16 and 25.”
Haber and her husband, Mark, founded Classic Flooring in 1981. Before that, she worked for her father’s demolition company, Geppert Brothers.
In addition to aisles of clothing, jewelry, handbags and (coming soon) designer shoes at discount prices, the interior is designed like a family’s home sitting room with the subtle element of a more formal living room. As many colors as a bag of M&Ms hang on the clothes racks, and the soft wall tones are garbed with old-time photos, framed in vibrant pinks, of Haber’s grandmother, a 1930s’ vaudeville singer who went by the stage name Giggles Regan. Regan performed in New York City and Detroit, among others, and met performers like Ethel Merman and The Three Stooges, according to Haber. (For young folks who may not know it, vaudeville was a theatrical variety show composed of unrelated acts like musicians, jugglers, comedians and acrobats on the same bill.)
“That’s the most important part about this place,” she said. “It’s named after my grandmother.” Regan lived to be 99, three months shy of 100. “She was singing and dancing until the end … She was vintage. This place is vintage, I thought, what a perfect way to name the store.”
Haber decorated the store after her husband renovated the interior of the former Elfant Realtors location, a service they offer though Classic Flooring.
“Patricia called us and asked us if we could take extra clothing,” said Maria Macaluso, executive director of The Women’s Center of Montgomery County. “She had a great idea about donating items she couldn’t sell in her store to our victims.”
“I was going in a lot of different directions, and I contacted a lot of different people,” explained Haber. “The clothes also go to women who work but cannot afford clothes … I think it’s good to be able to do that. If you were going to get rid of it to begin with, why not pay it forward,” she said, referring to the 2000 movie, “Pay it Forward,” that centers on the theme of taking a good deed and spreading it to others.
“She has really given us good quality and name-brand clothes,” said Macaluso. “They help maintain our stock of clothes for women and children who literally left their homes with nothing on their backs.”
The Women’s Center of Montgomery County provides services that include: a 24-hour domestic violence hotline; elder abuse counseling and supportive services; individualized peer and group domestic violence counseling; telephone counseling, information and referral; legal advocacy; court and hospital accompaniment; stalking prevention on college campus program; emergency relocation funding for victims of domestic violence; prevention education, and outreach to the community and schools.
Gigi’s Consignment Boutique, 1511 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, PA, 19031. Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 215-948-3250. firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about The Women’s Center of Montgomery County, visit www.WCMontco.org or call 215-635-7340.