Trove General Store. Photo by Bob Myaing of Cork Grips.
Growing up outside of Philadelphia, all the good stores were closer to the city. Skate stuff? Cool Runnings in Ardmore (RIP). Records? Repo in Bryn Mawr or Tower in the city (RIP, RIP). Punk rock paraphernalia? Zipperhead, etc. on South Street. Once the R5 trains rolled past the collegiate enclaves of Rosemont, Bryn Mawr, and Villanova, it was straight up mallburbia. Not that I necessarily would have appreciated its country-hip atmosphere at the time, but Trove General Store in Paoli, which opened a year or so ago, promises that thoughful retail can survive the suburbs. I've shopped their open, almost barnlike space--an impressive feat considering the Lancaster Ave strip mall-ish location--for typical heritage men's brands like Filson and Pendleton, but also for the less common lines (Tellason) and women's lines from LVC and the like, and for their selection of like-minded home goods. I spoke with co-owner Charlotte about what drove her and her family to open the shop and their plans for the future.
Pete: Tell me about your background. How did you decide to open Trove?
Charlotte: Trove is a three-wheel team (and very much a family affair) made up of myself, my fiance (Foster), and my mom (Molly.) We all have really mixed backgrounds, which is nice, because it brings three very different perspectives to everything we do here. I grew up here in Paoli and then studied art history at NYU. Foster is a born-and-bred New Yorker and has been working retail for over 20 years. Molly is an interior decorator and has her own local firm as well. Fos and I were living in Brooklyn and I was working in a gallery (which I hated) and we had been playing with the idea of opening a shop for a while. At the same time, my mom wanted to do something different down here and it just sort of all came together at the right time. We were burnt out on city life and ready for a change so we made the decision to move back and open up a shop with my mom.
P: Why Paoli, if I may be so forward?
C: First and foremost, Paoli is where we are from, and in a lot of ways who we are (for Mom and I at least). Paoli has sort of an "old town" vibe, where everyone knows everyone and there is a really developed sense of community. What's also great about having the shop out here, as opposed to a more urban setting, is that people really put these clothes to work they way they were designed to be used. Utility fashion seems much more authentic, in my opinion, when actually utilized. Makes more sense to see someone out here wearing a heavy duty tin cloth jacket or a shooting vest because they actually were out hunting (or riding horses, hiking, skiing, etc.).
P: Trove has a really interesting brand mix. Most of the shops where I see your men's brands (like Filson, or LVC, for example) don't have a lot of women's clothing or the sort of home accoutrements Trove carries. What was your strategy in choosing what to have in the store?
C:The whole idea was to sell things that were suited for an outdoor lifestyle, which has given us a lot of room to play around with different products and brands. We wanted the shop to be a place where you could come and get hiking boots or a great pair of denim, but also beautiful notecards or clean apothecary. So, the selection of homewares and accessories ended up really just a compilation of things we liked or were finding ourselves need. And yes, menswear is definitely the focus for a lot of shops like ours but people would be surprised to find that most of these shared brands do have women's collections (like Filson, LVC, and Danner, for example,) Although they're not quite as full as the men's offerings, we're definitely noticing a greater effort towards expanding the women's selection.
P: Trove is also a wonderfully large space. Did you guys design the interior yourselves?
C: Yes! We designed the space from the larger build out right down to the fixtures. The floors are all reclaimed barn wood from out past Lancaster County, with pretty much everything in the shop reclaimed or salvaged in some way (thanks to some serious field trips around Pennsylvania). We just wanted the space to feel warm and welcoming, more like someone's home than a sterile retail space.
P: Sounds like a good blend of points of view. How long did it take for the idea of Trove to germinate until you got the shop open?
C: We had all been playing with the idea of opening a shop for a few years, but the actual hammering out of Trove General took about 8 months.
P: Do you think your clientele has skewed to any particular demographic? Do you have kids coming out from Phila proper? Villanova students? Main Line matrons?
C: To be honest, our clientele is so varied. Because we are in the suburbs, we definitely get our share of older, more traditional customers (who often have a greater awareness of style and quality clothing than some of the younger people). We definitely do get kids coming out from Phila. to shop, which is really exciting for us. I think the fact that we've brought different brands to the area has been a draw.
P: Is there anything you've picked up recently that you're particularly excited about on the women's side? Men's? Home?
C: We literally only sell things in the shop that we ourselves would wear or want to own, for better or worse. It's so important to believe in what you're putting out there, so we really are committed to the brands we carry (which usually means we end up buying everything that comes in!!) For women, I'm really excited about all the new Levi's Vintage + levi's Made & Crafted thats arriving for Spring. Really smart, well-made garments that are feminine but not overtly so, which I think is refreshing. On the home front, I really like the smaller/artisan style products like Brooklyn Slate Co.'s NY quarried slate cheese boards and coasters, Land by Land's natural, NY made candles, and Metaphor Organic's San Fran based, home made apothecary products. For men, we're excited for the arrival of Tellason's Topper Denim Shirt. We've been stocking Tellason denim since we opened and we did a limited edition jean with them from a vintage denim they had, with duck twill pocket liners. There is a lot of great denim out there, but the quality of Tellason pieces is really unrivaled. Plus, Tony and Pete, who run the operator, are really stand up guys. They're passionate about, and really devoted to, what they're doing, and that's something as small business owners we totally respect. Nice to see the value in, and be able to support, true craftsmanship.
P: I love the idea of salvaging on field trips--any spots you can share (flea markets, etc.) that you've found fruitful in your travels?
C: Believe it or not, Craiglist is amazing. You have to lurk to get the good finds, but they're there. They led us to some scary Pennsyl-tucky-style spots, but thankfully we've gotten some good scores. Also, another amazing spot is a flea market in Adamstown. Worth the trip, at the very least to see the indoor/outdoor spread.
Thanks Charlotte! Visit Trove General online and at