When Carol Seghi and Cheryl Barnes decided to open Fragments, they knew it had to be something different than a typical retail store. Their vision was a modern-day version of what Hallmark used to be when the retailer sold more unique items that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
So what better way to achieve such a goal, than to carry some products made or created by local residents and artists.
That’s what sets Fragments apart from other retailers in the area. Located at 233 S. Milford just up the street from Colosanti’s Produce and Plants in Highland, Fragments sells thousands of items from children’s gifts and home and garden products to pottery, jewelry, lotions and candles. Items can range in price from 50-cent pencils to large garden items up to $200. Seghi and Barnes also offer a mix of items produced by large manufacturers and local designers to give customers an eclectic selection.
“We really like to buy handmade things and try to buy from local residents when we can,” said Seghi, adding that there are no consignment sales with Fragments as she and Barnes will purchase items outright from customers that may fit their need and niche. “A lot of our business is word-of-mouth. You can get a nice gift for yourself or someone else for a very reasonable price.”
The owners are sisters-in-law from the area, with Barnes a Highland resident and Seghi from Hartland. When they opened the store in 2010 they decided that Barnes would take the lead on many of the inventory decisions while Seghi would focus on the operations side. It didn’t take them long to realize that it was hard to predict the tastes of their customers.
“We learned very quickly that we can’t predict what people want and that customers all have different interests,” Seghi said. “We also found out that trends can change pretty quickly.”
For example, one of the hottest selling items at Fragments for much of last year was blankets that were made out of recycled t-shirts by a company called Green 3. But after several months, sales of those blankets quickly waned and this year lawn and garden items, and decorations, are much more popular. At various periods over the last two years, homemade hats have sold well. So the owners have learned to be flexible in the inventory they offer.
“The one thing we really try to focus on is selling items that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Seghi, who added that Fragments will consider “fair trade” options for customers who have homemade items to sell.
The feel of walking into the Fragments location is also unlike most retailers, and certainly any chain stores. A customer will feel like he or she is walking into someone’s home, complete with lawn and garden items in the back yard in a bungalow-type structure set off the road. Fragments is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.- around 3 p.m.
Seghi said that she and Barnes would like to sell items directly online in the future at the store’s website, www.fragmentsstore.com. They also want to continue achieving their financial goals while reaching out to existing customers, so that the word can spread even further.
“There’s no question that (being a small business owner) takes a lot of time but I think in the last year or so we have been able to get a much better handle on the process,” Seghi said. “I think we understand our customers better and the types of new items to carry.”
Fragments also carries such items as pottery, note cards and notebooks, tote bags and large selection of specialty kitchen items. Contact 248.887.9392 for more information.