In these tough economic times, it is often hard to find cute and one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories at an affordable price. However, WCU students need to look no further than West Chester to find a boutique that offers beautiful clothing and accessories for under $60. 

     Artifact Boutique is located at the corner of Darlington and Gay streets. The store was opened up in June of 2009 by 2006 WCU graduate, Lauren Merkel. Merkel earned her B.A. in communication studies at WCU. So how did Artifact come to be?

     “I worked for a few years out of college, had a lot of retail experience and then, basically, the opportunity, arose and the building was available. I wanted it and basically went out on my own, saved up enough money, bought everything for the store, took out a small loan and the concept came to me to do a discount store because the economy wasn’t doing well,” Merkel said. “It was the start of the crash of the economy. I knew I had to come up with something affordable and something that would work.” 

     Merkel had a lot of help from her friends and family, noting her brother, who built the fitting rooms for her.

    “It’s been a lot of work but it’s also been really fun and it’s all been extremely personal because everything is done by me,” Merkel said. “It adds a personal touch to the store. It’s not real generic.”

        Merkel had high hopes that students and young professionals would find the store beneficial to their wallets and wardrobes. “We have clothing, jewelry, hand bags, accessories, lots of sweaters, leggings,  and some jeans.

     We keep everything under $60. The girls love it! They’ll come in and buy a couple dresses for the price they would spend on one dress somewhere else,” Merkel said. “It’s done really well for the last two years. Every year we continue to improve and even in the first month of opening we were extremely successful.” Artifact also carries denim jeggings for under $30. 

     In the next few months, Artifact will conduct online sales.

     “That’s what we are working on right now. Hopefully it will be a big success. People are always wondering if they can order online from our store,” Merkel said.

         Customers will hopefully be able to order online in the next couple of months, but Merkel does post new inventory on Artifact’s Facebook page so that customers can see what is new in the store. Artifact also has a mailing list where customers are sent coupons and promotions. 

     Artifact is ready and geared up with many fashions for the fall. “We have some really great leggings. Leggings are always really popular for the fall,” Merkel said. “We also have some great chunky sweaters, some really cute fall peacoats, and we also have adorable little cocktail dresses that can be worn with sweater tights.”

  Merkel also carries plenty of statement jewelry, which is a huge hit for the fall. Artifact gets new shipments every single week. “I am constantly making sure that I am always replenishing,” Merkel said. Artifact carries sizes small, medium, and large. Artifact has also gotten a labeling service.

     “It’s really cool. What we’ve done is we’ve gotten our name on our clothes. So it’s just a little bit more of a personalized touch,” Merkel said. “We don’t design anything. We order all of it from New York and LA and then a lot of our vendors will put a personal tag on it for us.” 

     Artifact carries Philadelphia sports apparel that was specifically designed for the store. “It’s just something fun for the girls to wear to all the different Phillies and Eagles games,” Merkel said. 

     If students are looking for anything ranging from affordable sweaters to a cute dress for the weekend, even if they are looking for that pair of earrings that will complement their outfits, Artifact is the place to go. Visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/artifactboutique.

     Angela Thomas is a fourth-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.

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