A Mercer Island native made her dream a reality earlier this month, opening a retail shop on the South End for community members to shop and hang out.
Kerry Donner opened The Boutique Lounge on May 6 after spending years dreaming of running a community-focused retail shop for her neighbors on the Island. The Boutique Lounge is located at 8451 Southeast 68th Street and is more than just a boutique retail shop with chairs, a couch and a television for shoppers to lounge and chat.
“I wanted it to be a community place for people to sit and relax but also shop,” Donner said. “Finding the perfect gift for someone is always one of my favorite things to do, and I wanted to give people an option for that down here.”
Donner added she’s putting in effort to make her store a unique place to shop by limiting her inventory and constantly bringing in new products. Many of the products are from local vendors, and Donner is working with local in-home or online businesses to host pop-ups at the The Boutique Lounge.
On May 25, Donner will host Stephanie Ben-Zeev and her online party decor shop More + Merrier which offers customizable tabletop decor, disposable kitchenware and hanging decorations.
“My main goal is to not only bring in products, but also to keep products changing,” Donner said. “So keep checking back here and check our website — I post all the products there.”
Additionally, The Boutique Lounge offers its space as a gathering place for locals to rent out. Donner lets locals schedule a public or private event, offering seats, tables, glassware, serving stations, platters, table linens, plastic dishware and photography studio equipment at an additional cost.
Donner said she had been thinking of the store for more than a decade and officially began planning it in April 2018. After examining options on the North End, Donner realized the less busy South End would be a better fit while providing an option for Islanders to avoid the growing traffic along Interstate 90.
“I like the tranquil South End and wanted to have a peaceful space,” Donner said. “The North End is getting crowded and parking is a particular issue. I’d have a hard time watching customers drive around looking for parking.”
Growing up on the Island, Donner added she was always confident her business would succeed and provide Islanders with a unique retail option on the South End.
As Donner builds her business’s relationship with the community, she has already established good working terms with neighboring businesses in an effort to avoid competition. While The Boutique Lounge may carry similar items to other shops, Donner will not sell the same exact product from the same vendor as a neighboring store.
“I make a point to not compete with other stores that have similar gifts,” Donner said. “I think we need to enhance each other instead.”
Community members have also responded positively to the new shopping location closer to home. Donner added she’s still in the marketing stages, as more people discover The Boutique Lounge, and she may even rent a space on the North End as a temporary shop to better advertise the South End shop.
“Every time somebody comes in and says anything it feels amazing — they don’t even have to buy something,” Donner said. “I’m hoping that people on the North End will start to realize they can head south to buy a gift instead of driving to Seattle or Bellevue.”