Watching out for great looks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The handbag has become the fashion accessory of the moment. Whether large or small, in basic black or vibrant color – the purse has become one of the most unique and fun parts of completing an outfit.

You simply can’t have just one.

And you don’t have to drive to Montgomery or other larger towns to find a diverse display of handbags. Right here in Greenville are purses in all shapes, sizes, colors and prices to suit a variety of tastes and budgets (think of the money you’ll save on gas alone).

Today we take you on a visit to two of our local shops offering a large array of unique purses. You might call it &uot;The Tale of Two Janices&uot; or &uot;The Carry-Alls of Cedar Street.&uot;

There’s Janice Cole and her bevy of bags at Special Finds by Janice, located at 108 Cedar Street, next to the Water Office. And, there’s Janice Stinson with her plentiful selection of purses at Monograms and Designs by Janice (formerly Consignors Unlimited), just down the road at 603 Cedar Street.

Monograms and much more

Walk into Janice Stinson’s business and you will find handbags in every color of the rainbow. The most popular hues this season include the feminine shades of both baby pink and hot pink, along with lime green.

The preppy pink and green are often featured together in purses adorned with grosgrain ribbon, pompoms and other frivolous and fun furbelows. There are handbags with beaded handles and handles of wicker, and purses trimmed with feathers and other &uot;frou-frou&uot; trims.

And for those who like things plain and simple, Stinson carries solid-colored bags with simple lines in fabric, vinyl and other materials. Purses at Monograms and Designs by Janice start at $12.99 and few run more than $40.

If you want to add an initial or two (or three), that’s no problem for Stinson, who can have the monogrammed item ready for a customer in just a couple of days for an additional charge starting at just $5 and up. &uot;We have several different fonts for customers to choose from,&uot; she says.

Did we mention pink is popular?

Pink and black bags, pink and white purses – &uot;you just can’t go wrong with pink this year,&uot; says Stinson. Other hot fashion colors for spring and summer in both clothing and accessories are turquoise and citrus orange, and Stinson carries bags in both shades.

A great gift idea for Mother’s Day just might be one of Stinson’s monogrammed bags complete with its matching wallet. &uot;The wallets run $14.95 and they do include their own checkbook. I sell a lot of them with their matching purses,&uot; Stinson says.

Are you a fan of &uot;I Love Lucy&uot;? Can your mom not get enough of the oomph of that classic and curvaceous cartoon character Betty Boop? &uot;We’ve got those, too,&uot; says Stinson as she adjusts a display of the novelty bags.

And John Deere continues to prove itself as a motif that’s moved off the farm and into the big city: Stinson also carries a selection of bags with the famous green and yellow tractors embroidered on them.

Summer means sand and surf

– and the need for a tote bag that doesn’t succumb to either one. Meet the new addition to Stinson’s lineup, the Oilcloth Brand.

Just like the oilcloth tablecloths that once graced many kitchen tables across America, these roomy tote bags, which come in a variety of bright prints and retro motifs, don’t absorb stains. They clean up with just the wipe of a damp cloth.

&uot;These bags are great because they simply wipe clean. They are wonderful if you have kids and lots of stuff to haul around – and, we also offer matching Oilcloth Brand cosmetic bags,&uot; she adds.

Monograms and Designs also features a large selection of the popular &uot;MaggiB&uot; quilted tote bags in various styles and prints.

Stinson carries much more than handsome handbags and tote bags at her business: she also offers fashion jewelry, children’s heirloom clothing (also monogrammable), consignment clothing, and a selection of fabrics, ribbons and trims for home seamstresses. Monograms and Designs by Janice is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

From Marilyn to megaphones

Continue down the street to Special Finds by Janice (just look for the colorful flag that’s likely to be displayed out front) and discover even more unique, whimsical and fun fashion handbags to browse among.

Looking for exotic animal prints, cute kittens and cuddly puppies, crowing roosters or a retro &uot;Route 66&uot; print? Want Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn emblazoned on your bag?

How about a purse shaped like a VW Beetle, or a cheerleader’s megaphone? Janice Cole has them all – and more. And Cole works to keep her prices affordable.

&uot;My little girls’ bags start at just $5.99, the totes are $12.99 and most of my larger purses run from $14.99 to $27.95. I have a few leather purses that run more, but generally, I keep within those price ranges. And I do try to carry things our other gift shops don’t have,&uot; Cole explains.

Cole, who opened her business in October 2000, also carries novelty styles featuring characters from film classics like &uot;Gone With the Wind&uot; and &uot;The Wizard of Oz&uot;, along with the very popular cast of the long-running sitcom, &uot;Friends&uot;. &uot;We even have the matching ‘Friends’ wallet,&uot; Cole points out.

Handbag styles that emulate famous designer labels such as Dooney and Burke and Brighton are also on the hit list at Special Finds by Janice.

And she orders certain purses with collectors in mind. &uot;You see that stiletto-heeled purse with Marilyn on it? There will be somebody who comes in that collects all things Marilyn Monroe – and I promise you, they will buy it,&uot; says Cole.

In addition to her collection of lively looking handbags, Cole has long been known for her large selection of sterling silver jewelry, and if you want it personalized, &uot;engraving is always available for it,&uot; she says.

&uot;Again, we try to offer some really unique things – we have handcrafted silver jewelry here you simply won’t find anywhere else,&uot; Cole stresses.

Special Finds by Janice also carries fashion jewelry items, fashion watches, children’s sterling silver jewelry, photo frames, stuffed animals, giftware items and, of course, those brightly-hued garden flags often found flying at her front door.

The business is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.