By Jacob Wheeler
Glen Arbor’s upscale clothing scene is expanding store by store, innovative brand after innovative brand.
This summer Pierre and Anne Pujos opened Flea—a spinoff of their boutique, The Exchange, which opened last July next to the Old Schoolhouse across M-22 from the Town Hall. The clothing stores also have locations in downtown Traverse City (opened in 2013) and Suttons Bay (2015).
“Flea and The Exchange are part of the same building; they are side by side with one attendant and one desk, but the concept and product selection is different,” said Pierre Pujos, a native of Bordeaux, and entrepreneur who invented target arrows made of carbon fiber.
“The Exchange is more about colors, embroidery, lace and gifts. Flea is more upscale, with a cleaner look, and no color concept. Beige, white and off-white. Flea is clothing and home products with earth-tone kind of clothing.”
The name Flea has nothing to do with a “flea market” but was conceived by their daughter Ines, a poet and writer who lives in New York City. “Think of a little pest that you have somewhere and cannot forget,” said Pierre. “We thought ‘this is cute, it is quaint, and it works well for us’. … The name ‘Exchange’ represents the exchange between the store and the consumer.” Ines, who Pierre calls “the creative brain behind the stores,” often accompanies her parents to fashion clothing shows in New York or on the West Coast.
Pierre and Anne Pujos moved to Chicago from France 22 years ago, and ultimately to Traverse City, where they bought Pavlova salon, which now boasts 35 employees. Several years ago the business next door on Union St. became vacant, so they signed a lease and decided to open a boutique. The Exchange was an immediate success when it opened four years ago.
The Pujos had their eyes on Glen Arbor for years, but a storefront didn’t open until 2016, and they seized the opportunity to move into the space on Glen Arbor’s east side which basks in glorious afternoon light. “We liked the size of Glen Arbor and the family vacation type of ambience there. The response has been very supportive, particularly from those who go to the gym next to us at the Old Schoolhouse or visit the farmers market across the street on Tuesday mornings.”
“We try to make an emotional attachment with the consumer, so they see the clothing but also connect to our home products and ambience.”
Flea and The Exchange will stay open until mid-October, or just after the autumn colors change.