Surviving Sisters’ Boutique: A Shop with Heart

“You couldn’t have picked a better place.”

When I first entered Surviving Sisters’ Boutique, I introduced myself to the two women in the second room. When I told them who I was and what my assignment was, they couldn’t stop smiling.

“You couldn’t have picked a better place,” one of the women said. They were genuinely excited, and their excitement was infectious.

I soon found myself smiling and when the owner and founder Kim Miller walked in, I was just as excited as the two other women in the shop.

As I introduced myself to Kim Miller, I was immediately struck with an overwhelming feeling of welcome. And welcome I was. In fact, everyone is welcome in Surviving Sisters’ Boutique.

Surviving Sisters Boutique (Photo Courtesy of Surviving Sisters Boutique)

Surviving Sisters' Boutique (Photo Courtesy of Surviving Sisters' Boutique)

“Something near to my heart.”

Miller had a life threatening heart attack in December 2003. She was 45, and her doctors had failed to notice the signs.

“I had a heart attack due to stress,” Miller said. “The doctors put it to menopause…men are checked, and women aren’t.”

While she was recovering, she saw three things. One was her grandmother, who had died 5 months before at the age of 95. The second was her daughter, who was 11 at the time. The third was a vague image of a purpose she had yet to fulfill.

After her recovery, she became a volunteer for the American Heart Association. To this day, she is still an active volunteer for their cause.

“My daughter and I shopped for years,” Miller said. “One day we were driving past this house and I saw a man putting a sign out in front that said for sale or for lease.”

“It was like something hit me over the head,” Miller said. “I pulled over and talked to the guy…He called the broker and the broker came and I got it.”

With a background in the restaurant business and a good handle on building and designing, Miller fixed the small two story building to be a store in a few months. The store opened April 26, 2006.

“Unexplainable things happen every day.”

“There’s something in the air in here,” Miller said. “Unexplainable things happen every day.”

Miller says that some people see the word “Boutique” on her sign, but many see the word “Surviving” and that’s what draws them in.

“I worked in the restaurant business, so I got very good at reading people’s eyes,” Miller said. “I know that some will be crying or sharing or laughing within two to five minutes.”

But the boutique is also just what its name says it is. It is a small store with a lot of heart.

“We have clothing ranging from newborn to women’s size 44,” Miller said. “We have newborn to boys 16 also.”

Almost everything in the store is for sale, which is part of the shop’s appeal. Local artists are also a main part of the shop’s inventory.

In the back of the store, there is a bar and lounge area “for the men because they don’t like to shop,” Miller said.

Miller also hosts private parties upstairs. Partygoers get money to spend in the shop, eat pizza and cake and then dance to whatever music they want on a wooden dance floor.

“Donations have just show up on the porch”

Besides being a store, Miller’s boutique is also involved in the community.

“In this economy, some people have trouble affording Salvation Army,” Miller said. “So I put a dollar rack outside for the less fortunate.”

During the winter months, there are clothing drives. After the earthquake in Haiti, Miller organized clothing drives for residents there.

“There have been times when donations have just shown up on the porch,” Miller said. “These sometimes get handed right back out to people who need them. Men’s, women’s, children’s, it doesn’t matter.”

In March, Miller and those associated with her shop attend and help organize The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. In April, she helps organize the Go Red! luncheon.

Last year, Miller helped seniors in the fashion program at Marist with their red dresses that were displayed at the luncheon. She supplied some of the clothing that they used to make their dresses for a discounted price.

“I’m doing what I was left here for.”

Miller’s shop has become more than just a store to many. It’s become a community center, a ministry, and a place where people can learn about how to stay healthy.

“This has become so much more than I had anticipated,” Miller said many times during the interview.

A Best of the Hudson Valley Winner in 2009 and 2010, Miller has a lot to be proud of. Her boutique is quickly becoming more than anyone could have imagined. She started the store from nothing, and now has 133 accounts in the house, and contributes to 33 not for profits, charities and churches.

For Miller, it isn’t about making money.

“I’m doing what I was left here for,” Miller said. “We’re all brothers and sisters here.”

“Like my grandma used to say,” Miller said, “If a day goes by where you haven’t helped someone, then you wasted your day.”

“This store is all about us helping each other,” Miller said. And if that’s true, she is certainly making a large difference with the help she has given.

Surviving Sisters’ Boutique is located at 4412 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Michelle Harrop

My name is Michelle Harrop and I am currently a junior at Marist College. I am a communications major with concentrations in journalism and radio/TV/film and minoring in music. I am a member of the Marist College Band and have written for the Marist College newspaper, The Circle, a few times.

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