The E2 Boutique, as an extension of the original Amish Experience in downtown Lanesboro, focuses more on trendy and competitively priced clothing and accessories for shoppers. The new store opened at the beginning of the summer and has seen success among local and non-local shoppers.
The E2 Boutique, as an extension of the original Amish Experience in downtown Lanesboro, focuses more on trendy and competitively priced clothing and accessories for shoppers. The new store opened at the beginning of the summer and has seen success among local and non-local shoppers.
Throughout the past summer and early fall, shoppers along Lanesboro's main street may have noticed and patronized a new clothing shop titled E2 Boutique. What many shoppers may not yet realize is that it is really an extension of the Amish Experience store just down the sidewalk.

Store co-owners Barb Soma and Renee Barnes started the Amish Experience in 1997 and it became part of the Village Green, which is now a collection of six shops in Harmony and Lanesboro.

Soma explained that as the first store began to sell more home décor and souvenir items, the storage space quickly disappeared.

"It was bursting at the seams," she said.

During a trip out to the west coast last year, Soma recalled finding many "cute and reasonable things," which she thought would work well in the Amish Experience. Once back at home, the items she had ordered started coming in and there was no room for any of it. Luckily, a building was open just up the street.

From March until the middle of May, Soma and her staff looked at how they could make things work in the Amish Experience, but realized they needed the extra space. In two weeks, all the clothing and accessories they had ordered were stocked and the building was ready for customers.

Soma said the building had needed very little maintenance and thanked her landlords, Bryan and Elaine Kingsreitter for making the move much less stressful.

The name of the store came about because Soma wanted the customer experience to be different. Instead of the Amish and home décor atmosphere, a more trendy, boutique-style environment was sought. Thus, it was considered a "second experience" or E2.

The store is located next door to Bittersweet, another clothing store. Soma noted that Lanesboro now has a garment district with the two stores open. She added that E2 Boutique would carry different items and probably appeal to a different set of people. Throughout the summer, business picked up as visitors and residents noticed the new store.

Soma works at the E2 Boutique along with Linda Egnash and Gloria Pfremmer. They began taking notes of what people said when they would come in, look around and buy something. The positive comments poured in.

"The best is when they come in and say, 'This is my favorite store,'" Soma said. "We want our customers to feel happy."

As a seasonal clothing retailer, Soma promised to keep things changing and interesting throughout the year. Currently, the store is transitioning into the winter products. The prices range from $9.95 to $109.95 with a store-wide focus on items $25 and under.

Soma explained they like to find trendy and affordable clothes for their store. When asked about their sources on the west coast, Soma laughed saying they didn't want to give away all their secrets.

The store is focused mostly on women's and children's clothing with store sections for infants, jewelry and purses as well.

Soma explained that, if they want, shoppers can be helped by either Linda or Gloria to put items together for outfits. In that sense, she said, E2 is decorating people and not houses like the Amish Experience.

Despite being open for only five months, Soma said there are plans to expand the merchandise in order to meet suggestions and ideas being received from customers. Soma said they are open to ideas on product lines as well.

The store is also planning to participate in the Lanesboro-wide Girls Day Out event on Nov. 9. Wine, tea and snacks will be served, storewide sales will be offered and drawings will take place throughout the day. Soma said they hope to participate in more events as they become more established.

Besides needing extra space for what couldn't fit in the Amish Experience, Soma stressed the importance of having active storefronts on the main street. She explained that having fewer empty storefronts increases the likelihood people will remember to shop locally or to make a return visit.

"The more stores there are in town, the more people will come and browse," she concluded.