Roots Inc.'s store new store front from the inside. (Photo by Pete Mazzaccaro)

by Paula M. Riley

Heather Stauffer, owner of the recently re-opened Roots Inc,. learned at an early age that she was destined for the world of retail.

Her mother, Susan Doran, owned 2 Susans, a women’s boutique on the Avenue for many years. Stauffer spent countless hours there and later worked in retail stores specifically focused on home and apparel. She has always enjoyed the process of finding new merchandise and the excitement of sharing it with customers.

“The natural next step for me was to start my own business,” she said.

Stauffer opened Roots, Inc. at the corner of West Willow Grove and Germantown avenues in 2009 and recently relocated her shop of eclectic and urban apparel and home decor to 8436 Germantown, the former site of Chestnut Hill Fabrics.

The new location is all she had hoped for.

“I really wanted more foot traffic and to be in the ‘hub’ of Chestnut Hill,” she said. “I had been looking to relocate for almost a year when this location finally became available. The larger space was just an added bonus that enabled me to add apparel.”

Shoppers will find that her products continue to be those items they can’t easily find elsewhere. Stauffer describes her merchandise as “off the beaten path,” and a trip inside the bright and airy boutique illustrates this.

“I try hard to find designers that don’t produce large quantities and therefore don’t sell to the mass department stores,” Stauffer said. “They are what I call boutique vendors. These then become very unique and that’s what I’m going for.”

One of her vendors is Penelope Chilvers, whose leather wedge espadrilles, made famous for appearing on Kate Middleton’s feet, are now available at Roots. Stauffer regularly posts updates with new products. Other merchandise, much of which she buys in New York City, can be found on her website, www.shoprootsinc.com.

The shoes are but one part of Stauffer’s expanded offerings of jewelry, handbags, belts, tee shirts and jeans, all in a style Stauffer considers “casual yet smart”. Soon she will be selling a line of clothing for men as well.

Insider her shop, Stauffer has tried to create a visually pleasing atmosphere so shoppers are encouraged to come in, feel the material, try items on, smell the candles and in general, get a good sense of the products.

Upon entering the store, you’ll find large, paper mache bull heads in various colors on the wall. There is a rabbit-head necklace done by two sculptors in Austin, Texas and a white tunic top from a Brooklyn NY designer. These are but a few standouts in a shop full of colorful home accessories.

Creating a boutique of such interesting products is part art and part science. Stauffer changes the items regularly to keep the experience interesting and says, “I often hear repeat customers say, ‘Every time I come in here I see something new!’”

Chestnut Hill Retail Recruiter, Eileen Reilly is not surprised by the comment of these repeat customers.

“Heather Stauffer offers the Chestnut Hill shoppers everything they need to make their home or wardrobe fresh and updated,” Reilly said.

Roots, Inc. is open Tuesday through Sunday and is located at 8436 Germantown Ave.