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Stylish suburbanites shop at Smooch in Algonquin
By Amy E. Williams | Daily Herald Columnist

Co-owners Gina Gerardi, left, and Audra Whitesell are the owners of Smooch in Algonquin, a new boutique selling women's clothing and jewelry.


Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/29/2010 12:01 AM

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Audra Whitesell and Gina Gerardi are the kind of moms you see at the bus stop - or the school open house, or out to eat - who are dressed so stylishly, you're always wondering where they got their outfits.

Now, these two stylish friends are letting you in on their secret, and making it easier to look trendy yourself.

They opened a new store this month called Smooch Boutique along Algonquin Road in Algonquin, just west of Randall Road.

And inside you'll find fun, stylish fashions you can afford, they say.

Smooch Boutique, 2731 W. Algonquin Road, will hold its grand opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.

In addition to the fashions inside, there also will be a professional face painter, hors d'oeuvres, drinks and an appearance by Star 105.5 radio station from 2 to 4 p.m. at the open house.

"You can expect to find trendy things at a great price point, with a downtown atmosphere," Gerardi said.

Whitesell and Gerardi have known each other for seven years. They live in the same neighborhood. And they have a lot in common, including fashion.

A few years ago, they started hosting home parties, selling purses and accessories.

"We've always dreamed of having our own boutique and this opportunity came right in front of us, so we jumped at it. It's been a longtime dream for us," Gerardi said.

At the boutique, they've expanded from selling accessories to mainly selling must-have clothes. But they also carry shoes, boots, handbags, jewelry, hats and other accessories.

"It's all new products from up-and-coming designers we've met at the Merchandise Mart," Whitesell said.

The products are all very different from one another. Gerardi said they didn't want too many of one thing, so they limited their purchases to six of one item so everyone doesn't look the same that shops there.

"We wanted to be that unique store where you can't just find the same thing down the street at another store," Whitesell said. "We know what's already here at other stores, and didn't want the same thing. It's all unique items. We've met a bunch of people at the mart just doing the different shows down there and found great, new things.

"We also knew what people were looking for as a price point out here," she said. "We know what's out here and what the price points are. We wanted to keep it not too expensive, but stylish."

What they have appeals to many different types of people, Whitesell added.

Since Smooch opened on Sept. 1, they've had high school and junior high school girls in the store looking for dresses for dances.

And, Whitesell said, they've had her mother-in-law's friends from Sun City in shopping, finding fun items for their age group.

Already, many new customers have found the store.

They see the name, and wonder what the store is. They stop in, and they find the trendy items. And then, they tell their friends.

"Word-of-mouth is such a powerful thing. We couldn't have asked for a better few weeks of being open," Whitesell said.

Word-of-mouth about Smooch has also gotten around from Whitesell and Gerardi's friends and family, too.

Their families, they said, have been a huge help in making the store a reality.

Gerardi's brother and brother-in-law helped design the store by making cabinets and counters to display the clothing.

And their family has also helped support them through the opening and beyond.

"A lot of our family have put their time into it," Whitesell said. "We are so lucky."

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Amy Williams' column covers all the news of business along the Randall Road corridor from Batavia to Crystal Lake. Contact her at or (847) 894-5036.