If you have a yen for one-of-a-kind items, a sense of play, a creative impulse, and maybe a kid or two, get thee to Verona. At the far end of Verona Avenue, in a lovely two-story brick house with a purple door, you'll find the Purple Goose.
Owner Halley Jones opened the boutique in 2005 in what was then her home. (She moved after having her third child.) What began as a children's clothing business expanded to women's clothing and accessories, body-care products, toys and gift items, says store manager and web wrangler Lauren Schultz, who herself has a degree in textile and apparel design.
Jones prides herself on buying local when possible, with an emphasis on environmentally friendly and recycled items. You'll find an assortment of LüSa organics - gentle soaps and baby products "joyfully made in Viroqua," with names like Dancin' Fool, Breathe and Electric Mocha.
The clothes, which are sourced from boutique brands from around the country and around the world, are delightfully eclectic, highly wearable and reasonably priced (tops run $15-$45, dresses $25-$75), and since they're mostly one of a kind, the stock changes continually. Think dresses in wisps of layered chiffon, hand-painted T-shirts, blouses in unexpected mixes of fabrics and patterns.
Even the displays are eye-catching, a mix of modern and antique. Colorful cloth belts ($28) are arranged across the back of an old church pew in one room, while in another, a stainless steel IKEA dresser shows off an array of soaps and lotions. The walls are decorated with hand-painted trees and curlicues, enhanced by charming black-and-white photos of children by local photographer Jennifer Hassrick.
The eco-friendly theme is evident in goblets and vases by Green Glass ($14-$68), made from recycled bottles, and carries over to the jewelry and art. Wonderful bracelets and necklaces by Bridget Kelley Wolle (another local artist) feature recycled buttons. One of Schultz's favorites is the "Five-Way Necklace" ($35), colorful strands of beads, with a button pendant, that can be taken apart and refashioned into necklaces of different lengths, bracelets or ankle bracelets. A whimsical clock (at $155, one of the pricier objects) in the shape of a little red house on stilts is made of odds and ends of recycled and found objects, and has a smile on its face on one side, a frown on the other. I wanted it.
The second floor is dedicated to kids. There's a play area to keep the young'uns busy, and the clothes and toys follow the theme of the rest of the boutique - colorful, recyclable, earth-friendly and fun. Organic cotton onesies by Tiny Revolutionary ($25) carry such messages as "Recycle love" (with a heart-shaped recycle logo) and "War is poop." Can't argue with that.
If Verona is a tad out of your driving or biking range, the Purple Goose has opened a satellite store downtown on South Pinckney Street, where it shares a space with Studio Quest hair salon. You can get a new wardrobe and a new 'do at the same time.
The Purple Goose
400 W. Verona Ave., Verona
Tues.-Fri. 10 am-6 pm, Sat. 10 am-4 pm, Sun. noon-4 pm
117 S. Pinckey St., Madison
Tues.-Thurs. 10 am-7 pm, Fri. 10 am-6 pm, Sat. 9 am-3 pm