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'Sitting Pretty' in the downtown district: Two Perham natives open up 'shabby chic' boutique

Chairs attached to the wall act as clothes racks in Sitting Pretty on 114 First Ave. S in Perham. (Carter Jones / Perham Focus) 1 / 2
Sitting Pretty owners Leah Monson and Shawna Rose pose for a portrait in the store on Friday, Dec. 14. (Carter Jones / Perham Focus) 2 / 2

A lot of "weird" connections brought Shawna Rose and Leah Monson together into opening Sitting Pretty, Perham's newest boutique. It began when Monson's parents bought Rose's childhood home from Rose's parents, includes Rose's ex-father-in-law being Monson's family veterinarian and ends with Rose dating Monson's father in law. Monson said over the last two years while working at Rose's store in Ottertail, Shawna Marie Boutique, she always talked about branching out into her own space. When the location on First Avenue in downtown Perham became available, they decided to go for it.

"Both Shawna and I were born and raised here," Monson said. "We're Perham people."

A few store name ideas were bounced around until settling on Sitting Pretty. "We'll leave your wallet and your wardrobe sitting pretty," Monson said.

After a slow start of filling out paperwork and tax licenses, things got moving once they got the keys.

After getting in the door, Rose and Monson didn't do anything drastic to make the space their own. "We really just painted to freshen it up," Monson said. "It's pretty by itself with the brick." The green tin paneled roof, along with the original brick wall and wood floor, gives texture to the store's modern clothes.

"It's been fun to play with the industrial, shabby chic kind of stuff," Monson said. Rose and Monson also built all their own fixtures, which include modified antique doors and chairs fastened to the wall that make clothing racks.

Retro blue plush couches and chairs create an open gathering space in front of a fireplace that balances the retail side of the store.

Monson said they're out to complement, not compete with, other businesses in Perham. "More stores means more reason for people to come and shop," she said, acknowledging opening in the grip of winter won't be easy.

"We want to focus on the locals and people that are here to shop every day," Monson said. "In spring we'll amp up our inventory and bring in new fun stuff."

Monson said inventory includes unique pieces that are budget-friendly but also made from good, quality fabrics.

Sitting Pretty is also extending a partnership with KLN to keep a corner of the store home to a full product line of Kenny's Candy and Tuffy's dog food.

Days before opening day, Leah and Shawna were feeling stressed but excited to get rolling. While they planned on waiting until the first of the year, they adjusted because they couldn't pass up Christmas after moving in a month early.

Business was steady during opening day last Friday, as friends dropped in to offer congratulations and curious locals came in for Christmas shopping. "We just decided to get in on the Christmas spirit," Monson said.

Sitting Pretty is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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