For 25 years, Shera Lorenze has offered shoppers personal service and one-of-a-kind finds.
A smile and a greeting are something you don’t get when you click on a “Checkout Now” button. But at Personally Yours, customers can expect a cheerful greeting every time they walk into the Morgantown boutique. Located in Suburban Plaza, behind Suburban Lanes bowling alley, owner Shera Lorenze has been offering shoppers the finest and most unique in personalized gifts, ladies’ fashion, and children’s clothing and accessories since she opened in 1986.
A native of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Shera says, “I came to Morgantown to go to WVU, got my degree in interior design, met my husband, and never left.” After working for a few years at BL Interiors, Shera decided to take an opportunity to open a shop in an available space in Suburban Plaza, her husband’s property. From her original, 1,000-square-foot shop, Shera specialized in all things individualized. She says, “In the ’80s, it was a big deal to have everything personalized, so my store offered everything from monogrammed towels, shirts, clothes, and sweaters to children’s clothes, glassware, napkins, and gifts.” When she noticed her clothing was selling more than anything else, Shera switched her focus to fashion. “I’ve always wanted to do something in fashion because I love clothes, so the evolution from more personalized items to clothes really made sense.”
Shera gets most of her inventory from companies she’s been working with for years, as well as from kid shows, fashion shows in New York, and personal travels. “Sometimes when I’m traveling and I see something that I just have to have in my store, I’ll buy it right then and there,” she says. “I’m always bringing in new and different things, keeping things fresh.” Some of her most popular items include her children’s clothing lines such as Mud Pie—a moderately priced, contemporary brand with adorable, “fu-fuey” items; Cach Cach—another contemporary line for kids with a lot of prints, bright colors, feathers, and fun accessories and gifts; and Haute Baby—a higher-end line of children’s couture. Shera also sells Brighton, the widely renowned line of jewelry, leather handbags, and accessories, and loves it. “The owner of Brighton still has a specialized shopping and boutique mentality—he doesn’t sell Brighton online, which means my customers come to me when they want Brighton and that helps my business.” From handbags and accessories to casual wear and jeans to party dresses and gowns, Personally Yours offers the full spectrum of ladies’ fashion.
“Shopping locally is the better way to shop,” Shera says. “I don’t think people always understand that—if you shop your local businesses, you can touch the products, you can feel the fabrics, your purchases will be wrapped for you, and you’re supporting someone in your town who might in turn support something you do. It’s all about supporting your town.” Younger generations tend to not understand that as much, according to Shera, who believes small business owners have a responsibility to educate young people about the experiences they may not even realize they’re missing. It’s that personal service—the desire to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy—that has led to Personally Yours’ decades-long success. The store also specializes in things shoppers won’t find anywhere else because, Shera says, she has to—she can’t sell what department stores sell because being one-of-a-kind is what sets her store apart. Customers will find things they can’t find anywhere else, like the perfect baby gift that makes the new mother exclaim, “Where did you get that?”
Shera credits much of her success to loyal clients who know where to find her and what she has to offer. “Those are the clients who keep me going,” she says. She also hopes the younger women working in the store will learn from their experiences and educate their friends to shop locally. For small business owners like Shera, the secret to success is networking. “I think business owners in Morgantown really try to work together,” she says. “I know I want shoppers to stay in town, so I’ll do whatever I can to help people find what they’re looking for.” Shera also donates to different causes around town whenever she can and says supporting her fellow business owners and her town has been rewarding.
The way people shop has certainly changed since the boutique-era of the 1980s, but Personally Yours continues to offer an experience unlike what shoppers will find on eBay or at big box retail stores. “Shopping is all about good service, a friendly face, and someone who wants to help but isn’t too pushy,” Shera says, “and Morgantown has a lot of wonderful stores.”
Photographed by CARLA WITT FORD
Personally Yours, 5 Suburban Court; 304.599.6211
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