Andrea Appelbaum started the Plaid Rooster Company, making decorated, essential oil-based scented candles in the basement of her Easton home in 2020, and the business quickly grew. The candles can now be found in about 2,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
One of the stores that carried the candles was Lorraine K. Boutique at Clock Tower Square, 477 Main St. in Monroe. The owner, Lorraine K. McGowan, recently retired after 34 years.
Appelbaum, who is an entrepreneur, signed a lease for the commercial space on Valentines Day and opened her second SHe SHed store location there, the other is in Cornwall. Appelbaum said the spelling of SHe SHed is intentional, as if to say, “SHSH this is our secret retreat.”
“This is my escape from home,” she said with a smile. “You guys have your man cave. We have our SHe SHed.”
The SHe SHed has scented candles, a large selection of women’s clothing and accessories, jewelry, gifts and greeting cards.
“I want to offer home decor and a gift for any occasion — birthdays, baby and bridal showers,” Appelbaum said.
Almost all of the jewelry is crafted by Connecticut artisans. The store also sells chocolate made in Woodbury and Wonderland Jam, made in Newtown.
“Whenever I can get something made in Connecticut, I do,” Appelbaum said.
The SHe SHed is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
‘Big shoes to fill’
Appelbaum bought Queen Street Gifts, 3 Queen St. in Newtown, five years ago and recently expanded the Plaid Rooster Company.
“My business grew so much, I bought a building in Cornwall for manufacturing and it has two retail stalls,” she said. One of the stalls is the first SHe SHed, which opened at 22 Kent Road South in October.
When McGowan decided to retire, Appelbaum saw the listing for the retail space at Clock Tower Square and reached out to her broker.
“I just thought the space was great,” Appelbaum said. “It has such a presence from the road.”
Appelbaum said she also liked the steady stream of traffic that Main Street (Route 25) brings from Monroe, Newtown, Easton and Trumbull.
She said the interior of her new store has room for “Sip and Pours”, events in which she shows guests the process of pouring wax for candles and how to decorate themselves.
The storefront had closed down for three weeks, while Appelbaum had painting done and new carpeting installed.
Though Appelbaum is excited about her new SHe SHed, she said she knows she has big shoes to fill.
“Lorraine has been in this space 34 years,” Appelbaum said. “She was a known brand. Everyone was sad when she was retiring. I hired all of her full-time staff.”
Appelbaum said she plans to be conscientious to her customers’ preferences.
“I’m open ears to the community, so if someone says, ‘can you carry this? Lorraine always had it,’ we’re here to serve the community,” Appelbaum said.
A grand opening
On Saturday afternoon, Appelbaum was accompanied by her husband Mark and their son, Ethan, 6, at the SHe SHed’s grand opening celebration.
First Selectman Ken Kellogg attended the event with State Rep. Tony Scott, R-112th, Community and Economic Development Director William Holsworth and Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Ray Giovanni, who also chairs the Monroe Economic Development Commission.
Several chamber members also came to express their support.
During a ceremony in front of the store, Kellogg and Appelbaum held a large pair of scissors and cut a ribbon together following a countdown by the crowd.
“On behalf of the town of Monroe, I couldn’t be happier to have you here,” Kellogg said. “We’ve got folks on the Economic Development Commission, our Chamber of Commerce, State Rep. Tony Scott — all here just to say how much we want to support you as a community, how happy we are to have you here.”
“We’re happy to have a new shop here to replace a longstanding one, and we hope you have just as many, if not more years than when Lorraine was here,” Kellogg said. “We wish you all the success.”
On behalf of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, Giovanni said, “thank you for the quality and care you demonstrate. We’re here to support you in that effort.”
For information on new products in the store, visit the SHe SHed CT Instagram page.