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Must-shop Houston boutiques: Break free of the chains to shop local

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Elaine Turner Rice Village
Elaine Turner's signature color, pink, is evident in the Rice Boulvard storefront. Photo by © Julie Soefer
Raspberry Rose women's clothing store Rice Village shopping
Raspberry Rose is a longtime Village favorite. Google Maps
News_Heather_J. Silver
J. Silver offers a wide variety of jewelry.  Courtesy of J. Silver
News_Heather_Dao Chloe Dao_March 2012
Dao Chloe Dao, formally known as Lot 8, is a unique boutique. Photo by Kennon Evett
Em&Lee + Willa Boutique
Put together the perfect summer ensemble at Em&Lee + Willa Boutique. Em&Lee + Willa Boutique/Facebook
Elaine Turner Rice Village
Raspberry Rose women's clothing store Rice Village shopping
News_Heather_J. Silver
News_Heather_Dao Chloe Dao_March 2012
Places-Shopping-Abejas
Em&Lee + Willa Boutique
Marika Rafte author photo

In a world full of chain stores it is always refreshing to find something homegrown. There is something special about a locally owned-and-operated store, whether it's the enthusiasm of the employees, the distinctive one-of-a-kind interiors or the selection of clothes and accessories by Houstonians for Houstonians.

A few of these precious gems can be found in Rice Village. While the popular shopping area has increasingly attracted more national chains, it's still an outpost for locally owned-and-operated stores. These shops offer a fun blend of clothing and accessories for young women my age (late teens, early 20s). They're definitely worth navigating the Village's horrendous parking to find.

Elaine Turner

Rice Village is the place where it all started for Elaine Turner. While she has expanded to other locations in Houston and other cities (Nashville, San Antonio), her Rice Village boutique remains the flagship of her burgeoning empire.

You will be able to find this boutique without any trouble. Painted in Turner’s signature pink color, the store pops out amid the other shops on Rice Boulevard. Get your fill of cute bags (ranging from clutches to totes), fab shoes and the latest accessories amid plush pink couches.

Raspberry Rose

For 30 years, this cute shop has been tucked away in Rice Village, keeping up with the most current trends. There is a great selection of clothing that can fit any occasion, from a casual day of running errands to a little black dress night. The jewelry assortment helps to complete any outfit. 

The store reflects the vision of Maureen Sweeney, who opened Raspberry Rose in Bellaire and moved it to its current home on Rice Boulevard in 1983. After a two-year battle with cancer, Maureen passed away in early 2012. Her daughter, Carrie, who grew up playing under the racks of the store, continues to own and operate the boutique.

Dao Chloe Dao

Formerly known as Lot 8, the boutique now is more closely identified with fashion designer Chloe Dao's unique vision. The store exudes warmth, from the brightly-colored clothing to the sleek, modern decor. Dao, who won the second season of Project Runway, offers a wide selection of her designs, along with other designer labels. The shop is perfect place to search for special-occasion frocks.

Abejas Boutique

Jewelry and lovely boho-chic clothing line the racks at Abejas. The boutique has a great blend of casual and semi-formal wear. The vintage jewelry is a must-see. The atmosphere in the store makes you feel comfortable from the minute you walk in. When the weather gets a bit colder, the boot selection is to die for.

This boutique was originally located on Westheimer but the owner and native Houstonian Christina Mitchell moved to its current location on Kirby Drive in 1996. 

Em&Lee + Willa Boutique

Affordable yet adorable are two words that come to mind for this Houston-based store. Em&Lee is chic boutique that offers a variety of clothing options for women ranging from semi-formal cocktail dresses to casual tops. Also check out the collection of purses, jewelry and shoes.

After enjoying success at the first two locations in River Oaks and Midtown, Muriel Martins opened a third location a year in 2008 in the Village on University Boulevard. Martins has also expanded the store to College Station, the Woodlands, Allen, and Plano. 

J. Silver

Whether you're looking for a statement piece or something more simple and classic, J. Silver has a wide range of jewelry Besides its own brand, J. Silver, designed by owner J. Landa, the store carries Dogeared jewelry, Alexis Bittar, Dian Malouf, Uno de 50 and is the largest vendor of Chan Luu in Houston.

Landa opened the store 15 years ago at its current location on Rice Boulvard. He uses his travels and experiences as inspiration for his popular Journey Collection

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