Cover Story

One-of-a-Kind Fall Finds: West County Center

Mary Ann Parker knows a thing or two about style. She designed her own line of cowgirl boots, which caught the notice of none other than Taylor Swift when a friend wore them to the Country Music Awards. She also created a hat for legendary rock star Gene Simmons of KISS. While she has left her designing days behind, Parker puts her fashion knowledge to work through her boutique Imagine That at West County Center.

Parker originally launched Imagine That in Cape Girardeau. After the store’s success, malls and shopping centers from across the country came knocking, but she was initially hesitant to expand the brand. That changed, however, when she was visited by Andy Goldacker, senior general manager of West County Center. “He invited me to visit the center, and I was so impressed by how welcoming everyone was,” she says. “To this day, Andy still calls to ask how the store and I are doing. You can’t find that sort of genuine support everywhere.”

Imagine That offers a curated selection of brands like Simply Southern and Vineyard Vines, along with unique items that are difficult to find anywhere else. Parker also makes a point of carrying American-made pieces and supporting regional designers and creators. “I always say if it doesn’t make you laugh, doesn’t make you cry or you can’t use it, I don’t want it,” she notes. “I try to create an environment where people can find things that inspire them or make them feel better.” 

The boutique’s one-of-a-kind selection has made it a great fit for West County Center since it opened in 2015, according to marketing director Sean Phillips. “It carries several brands and items that are hard to find elsewhere in St. Louis,” he notes. “It’s a fun place to shop. There is always new merchandise and something different. You never know what you’re going to find.”

Shoppers can look forward to more exciting new retail options at the center, according to Phillips. The boutique Versona opened earlier this year, offering apparel, jewelry and accessories. Another new arrival is Lovisa, which opened its first St. Louis location. The fashion-forward jewelry brand is inspired by current runway and streetwear trends. Lululemon Athletica has put down roots at the shopping center, too. The popular athletic clothing brand first came to West County Center as a pop-up shop in 2018, and a permanent store on Level 2 near Nordstrom opened this summer.

The center also is taking steps to accommodate visitors’ needs. New safety measures and social distancing protocols are in place to comply with government mandates and recommendations from health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People interested in walking in the morning are welcome to visit an hour before the posted opening time. “We also recently launched free Wi-Fi, which is available throughout the center,” Phillips adds.

While lockdown temporarily halted operations at the shopping center, there are exciting things on the horizon for West County Center this fall. “Even though we’re still dealing with the pandemic, there are more new offerings and stores on the way,” Phillips says. “People can look forward to some announcements in the coming months.” To keep in the know, stay tuned to the mall’s social media accounts and website.

While meeting health and safety guidelines for the pandemic, new offerings and stores are on the way for West County Center this fall. Pictured on the cover: Haley Eckelmann, Tracey Dexter and Savanna Heiney in the Imagine That boutique. For more information, visit shopwestcountycenter.com.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: Imagine That offers a unique selection for shoppers to explore.
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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