Vintage Wares and Wonderful Goods
Monica Vogel stocks Bleu in Sunset Beach with a mix of well-loved furniture and wares and boutique clothing.
Western boots, Indian Kantha throws, artisan Consuela handbags, vintage furniture, embroidered sweaters, one-of-a-kind jewelry. The diverse collection of wares in Bleu, the little shop in the middle of the block on Sunset Boulevard in Sunset Beach, is simply remarkable.
Owner Monica Vogel searches far and wide for her merchandise, which separates her shop from other local boutiques.
“As much as I love fashion, vintage wares are really my passion,” she says. “While working for Marshall Fields in Chicago as a designer, I began freelancing, doing store windows for small boutiques and restyling homes. I found myself always on the hunt for vintage furniture.”
It was seven years ago when Vogel and two friends from Illinois set out on a road trip to Sunset Beach to open a new boutique. They set up shop, locked the door and headed back to Illinois. A few weeks later Vogel’s husband retired, prompting the permanent move to Sunset Beach. And one week later, the shop, which Vogel named Bleu, opened its doors.
“Bleu is named for things that make me happy,” she says. “Blue skies, blue oceans, my husband’s blue eyes. And anything French!” Which explains the French spelling of her store’s name.
Vogel describes her shop, which is, of course, painted blue, as an “eclectic mix of time-worn, well-loved pieces with a past, paired with boutique clothing labels.”
The furniture and vintage wares come from barn sales, vintage markets and antiques shops, sometimes from as far away as France.
“I look for cottage cuties, perfect for restyling beach homes and mountain getaways,” Vogel says.
Vogel also has a keen eye for fashion. Her apparel lines are small-sourced and constantly changing.
“I never order more than six pieces of an item, unless it’s a basic,” she says. “I want every outfit to be as special as the person wearing it.”
Vogel thinks fashion looks better than ever. Expect fiery, colorful clothes in patterns like paisleys and florals with feminine touches.
“Look for high-waisted trousers and jeans, wide-legged boho-inspired bottoms, lace-trimmed tops, crocheted dusters, embellished denim jackets,” she says. “Maxi, mid-length or short-and-sweet dresses take center stage. Ruffles, cap sleeves, keyhole backs, halter tops and high-low hemlines are all on-trend.”
Vogel buys one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry and accessories from Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina artisans. Bleu recently became the local source for Consuela handbags, truly works of art themselves. Handcrafted in Austin, Texas and artisanal regions of Mexico, the bags are colorful and unique.
Her three-person in-store team, Diane Groff, Linda Lewis and Sonja Stanley, make the shop complete.
“Honestly, they are much better shopkeepers than I am!” Vogel says. “It is always fun to hear what merchandise they like and dislike. Each leaves her own signature on Bleu. All three provide amazing customer service. They remember names, faces, sizes and even children’s names. Pretty amazing considering we only see some folks once or twice a year while they’re on their vacations!”
Bleu is not Vogel’s first foray into small boutique ownership. Her first shop in Illinois, called Ruby Begonia’s, was mostly vintage with some apparel.
“I found incredible pieces in the Midwest, including a sweet French bedroom set, the mate owned by Barbra Streisand,” she boasts.
Vogel also started 3 French Hens French Country Market, a French-style market showcasing antiques and artisan and farmers market fare. She sold both businesses when she moved to Sunset Beach.
Vogel concludes, “Shopkeeping is a crazy passion, an euphoric rush that all begins with the turn of the key and the swing of the shop door! It’s magical. The strangers who walk into my life, many becoming friends, and the folks who wander through my doors, all become pieces of my quilt.”
Vogel invites everyone to Bleu. “Come experience the magic with us!” she says.
Want to go?
720 Sunset Boulevard N., Sunset Beach