Motifs: Treasure Hunting
SHOP TALK – September 2014
by Veronique McAree | Photography Amanda Kowalski
The products in Motifs tell a story, and they’re grouped together in inventive ways…equaling a lovely flow of inspiration while you shop. And if you’re just in need a little style direction, friendly experts await.
Motifs is one of those stores that’s so well put together, so chock-full of treasures, it feels more French flea market than boutique. Owner Paula Jalbert prides herself on offering a wide array of product for everyone from the tourist searching for mementos to the party-goer looking for the right outfit.
In true flea market fashion, the shop is stuffed to the gills with so much to check out, it’s impossible to absorb in a single trip. “It’s very much an extension of my love of unique finds and inspirational pieces,” said Jalbert, who trolls flea markets and trade shows across the country to curate Motifs’s collections.
The displays (mostly culled from flea markets too) are laden with cards, books, decorative objects, vintage-inspired signs, books, scarves, soaps, dresses, mariner shirts, sweaters… and so on. Jalbert enjoys sharing her sourcing stories of where and why she chose the products, making the discoveries even more fun.
If you are a devotee of fashion, Motifs is a must-stop destination. Head to the back of the store to check out the style selections, including sweaters, shirts, tunics, and skirts along with an extensive dress collection. Jalbert’s warm, knowledgeable staff will happily guide you through a perfectly edited selection of special occasion and casual frocks from scores of designers you will have a hard time finding anywhere else in Maine. Then, browse some truly cool accessories to up the style quotient. Motifs has a great collection of jewelry at reasonable prices, from cocktail rings to necklaces and brooches.
It is hard to categorize Motifs. Is it a housewares shop? Sure. Clothing boutique? Yes. Gift shop? Yep. It’s a little of everything, curated by an owner who has been around the retail block.
Jalbert first ventured into retail back in the 80s with a stationery store called Communiqué, also located in Portland’s Old Port. She then did a stint in real estate focusing on home staging (at Motifs you’ll discover her passion and talent for the art of display) only to return to retail with Motifs, first opened on Exchange Street, followed by a move to Commercial Street in 2012.
If you have an occasion to dress up for a wedding, have a birthday or baby shower gift to buy, or just want to kill an hour looking at great stuff with flea market flair, add the coordinates to your GPS pronto. You’ll be happy you did.