By Virginia Gil
Strip malls aren't just for dropping off dry cleaning and refilling prescriptions anymore. In the suburban enclave of Pinecrest, for example, they're for loading up on trendy fashions, and paving the way in shopping center chic is Cocoa Couture.
Inspired by owner Marcella Prieto's Pekinese pooch Cocoa, the ambiguous name has passersby doing a double take. "The way Cocoa is spelled, you think of brown," admits Prieto, "so people see the name and think it's a chocolate shop!" But a glance in the fashionable window-front and there's no doubting what is inside. The boutique's chocolate-colored walls and hot pink accents reflect its sweet-sounding name.
All of CC's merchandise -- from silky-soft Pashminas to daring dresses and short shorts -- is between $15 and $110, with items averaging at $50. "It's ridiculous sometimes walking into other stores and seeing their prices," she says. The seasoned buyer used her earlier connections as a buyer for Macy's and other such retailers to stock CC with trendy, one-of-a-kind pieces from Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Brands on tap include, Hot & Delicious, Lush, Pepper, Mai Tai and Unyx. Serial shoppers need not fret, the store's merchandise, along with the website's stock, is replenished every week.
Fashionistas reluctant to leave their home in search of new threads can enroll in the boutique's House Call Club. Prieto will create a profile, gather the client's size and deliver a cornucopia of clothing options once a week. The client can try them on, send them back or decide to keep them - all from the comforts of home. CC even caters to the four-legged shopper with t-shirts and sweaters for a girl's best friend. And always canine-conscious, Prieto donates a portion of proceeds from in-store events to local animal shelters. Once your pup's all set, you can ask yourself:
How much is that romper in the window?
Cocoa Couture (in the Suniland Shopping Center, behind Starbucks),11513 S. Dixie Hwy, Pinecrest; 305-238-4009.
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