Gramercy has west-coast vibe

SHERBURN – The new Gramercy “fashion and lifestyle boutique” in Sherburn is as unique as its owners, Alan and Gaye McLarem.

The couple hail from Australia, but while traveling the United States, they fell in love with small-town southern Minnesota.

“Four years ago, we were looking at real estate, and we found this English-style house in Sherburn, and it was just what we were looking for,” said Gaye McLarem. “We loved it, and we fell in love with Sherburn.”

“We love the demographics here,” added Alan McLarem. “It’s a very safe community, low crime rates.”

Crime rates are a big deal to the McLarems, as Alan works as a corrections agent in Australia in a community south of Brisbane.

In their downtime, the couple travels a lot.

“We’ve been to 25 of the 50 states,” Gaye said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on the west coast.”

It is from the west coast and from Australia that the Gramercy boutique gets its unique style.

“We wanted it to be something different, something you normally wouldn’t find around here,” Gaye said of the shop. “What you’ll find is about 50/50 Australian and west coast. It’s a very bohemian, rustic feel.”

The couple purchased the building at 16 East First Street in Sherburn, across from City Hall, for their shop.

The name of the store, Gramercy is also borrowed from the west coast scene. Literally translated to “grand merci” in French – a grand thank you – the word is used to express surprise or gratitude.

“I heard it when I was in New York and L.A. and I just loved it,” Gaye said. “I thought it was a perfect name for a store.”

As the couple travels the U.S. and the world, Molly Hanson of Sherburn is in charge of managing Gramercy.

“It has a little bit of everything,” Hanson said giving a tour of the fledgling establishment. “There are a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t see in this area. Some of the things look wild, but are very cute once tried on.”

Currently, the store carries women’s fashions, jewelry, some children’s clothes and gifts and other women’s items such as soaps and perfumes

“I think there are a lot of teen-type things here,” Hanson said. “But it’s all reasonably priced. I think as we get going, we’ll see an increase in variety, with different sizes and things.”

Hanson said so far the store’s traffic has been higher than she expected.

“A lot of people have come in and taken a look around,” she said. “I think we’ll see even more in the summer when school is out.”

There is room for the store to expand. Both Hanson and the McLarems talked about expanding the store to include more children’s clothes and even a coffee shop.

“It’s a learning process,” Hanson said. “But I’d like to do more.”

The store hours for Gramercy are 10 a.m-3 p.m. Monday through Friday.