Things are different behind Dorothy Williams’ hot pink sign on Wayland Avenue – in a good way. The iconic dress shop in Wayland Square has a new owner, who has some major fashion chops. Before Jenna Stockman bought Dorothy Williams earlier this year, she worked in visual merchandising at Tory Burch in New York City. Now, she has revamped the Wayland Square spot.
I popped in the morning after their very successful grand opening in late October – Jenna explained that the racks were a little barer than usual because they’d made so many sales during the event. Jenna’s dreamed of owning her own store ever since she was a kid – she shares how when she was little she’d play store owner in her grandmother’s closet, cutting out paper money and having her grandmother “go shopping” through her closet and jewelry box. Being from East Greenwich and familiar with the Providence area, she’d always admired the shops in Wayland Square and thought it’d be the perfect place to own a store.
Jenna explains that the vibe of the previous store was much more formal and dressy. “I’ve changed quite a bit of what’s being sold but I am keeping some of the same lines. I just made it a little more dressy-casual, day to night kind of thing,” she explains. Trendier, more multi-generational pieces are the kinds of styles Jenna’s been starting to move towards for stocking the new shelves. Right now the store is teeming with cozy sweaters and sharp pieces, great for work attire and a cool young professional look. Jenna’s noticed a good response from longtime customers continuing to see the classic finds they love, but with a new twist on them. She’s begun to make the store more of a lifestyle destination as well, by carrying shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories in addition to clothes.
She also wants to make the shopping experience as comfortable and relaxing as possible, so the store is always stocked with water and even wine, beer and champagne to offer to guests as they shop (as well as to any friends or partners brought along to sip while they wait).
The response to the new spot has been great. “Even previous customers have stopped in and said, ‘This is such a nice refresh of what was here before.’ They’ve just been so welcoming of the new Dorothy Williams,” says Jenna. There are still a number of pieces left over from the old store, which are in a sale section off to one side. Even more old merchandise is being donated to the Wheeler School. So while the new store is moving in a newer direction, it still holds onto some of the key pieces of the classic shop – especially a strong connection to the neighborhood.
200 Wayland Avenue