Amy Cook opened ar2 as a grown-up girl's answer to Anthropologie when the 53-year-old started to feel like the popular store she once frequented was catering more to her daughter than to her.
"I needed a little bit more sophisticated look," she says. "I would visit my sister in New York, and we would go to all the little boutiques in SoHo and Greenwich, and I would come back with a look that I really wanted."
With some guidance and inspiration from her sister, a vice president at a knitwear line, Cook sought out timeless pieces from coveted collections by A.L.C., Haute Hippie and Rag & Bone. She launched her upscale boutique last June with the aim of giving each customer thoughtful, personal service.
The spare, yet warm space thoughtfully mixes a diverse range of women's clothing and accessories that runs from Stella McCartney tennis dresses ($69.50) to heavenly soft Only Hearts NYC tanks ($54).
"What I enjoy most is helping my clients dress for special occasions and helping them find special pieces to go with what they already have," she says. Of course, you could pop in to the storefront at Hudson's First & Main and snag a fuschia dress by Aiko ($345), a Clu sweatshirt with satin panels along the sides ($270) or a last-minute pair of Spanx. But the reason customers come here is to get the Rachel Zoe treatment. Call ahead to book a free appointment, and Cook and her assistant will spend two or three hours helping you select pieces to supplement a seasonal wardrobe or even prepare for a cruise.
"It's about a whole lifestyle," says Cook, who also owns Yoga Lounge upstairs from ar2. "I don't want anybody to walk out of here with a piece that they can't think of at least 10 times they'll wear it."
It's even the inspiration behind the store's mysterious moniker: to give women "another reason to" pull a special item of clothing off the rack.
"You can take one of our pieces and put it with a piece from Target," Cook explains. "It's not about the designer pieces. It's just about having things that you feel great in."
shops & boutiques
12:00 AM EST
March 19, 2012