Shopping the Paris Flea Markets: the epitome of continental chic. Who among us doesn’t harbor at least one secret fantasy about La Vie En Rose, strolling through stalls or winding down side streets and into boutiques … Finding those magical discoveries whether a dainty settee, an architectural salvage piece, or even filigreed antique brooch.
No need to board a plane. Keep your passport locked away and motor north to C’est Moi, a lovely store tucked into a shopping center along Johnson Ferry Road in East Cobb. Here shoppers immerse in a French marché so authentic you can almost smell the baguettes … wait a second, you ARE smelling baguettes … the boutique opens up to Cafe De Paris bistro offering the full shopping and dining, expatriate ambiance.
See, once upon a time, a Georgia mademoiselle studying abroad in Paris for a semester lingered longer along the Seine. She stayed an extra year, picked up a job in a café and lived the Left Bank lifestyle, marinating in all things Montparnasse. Once she returned, she vowed to recreate the reverie for herself and Francophilic Atlantans. Et voila! C’est Moi was born. The original owner who launched this shop 25 years ago has since shifted her focus, starting a line of her own products, French Graffiti (sold online, as well as at C’est Moi). The shop still rings of her signature joie de vivre, with the buyer and sales associates long-time members of the C’est Moi family. Loyal customers waltz in for gifts and gossip, raving about the camaraderie as much as the eclectic inventory.
Head buyer, Kathy Willhite takes great pride in the personal attention to detail appointed to every facet of the business. She speaks of her buying excursions as though treasure hunting. “I’m constantly looking for new, unique items that will absolutely delight our customers. It’s as though I’m gift shopping especially for them. I’m always trying new lines, or finding vintage pieces. I strive to balance the price points of our merchandise, which isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem … I can feel equally as giddy over the smallest find as I do the big-ticket splurges.” That balance has been achieved–from ornate mirrors, lamps, furniture pieces, chandeliers and paintings (some by veteran sales associate and resident artist, Cheryl Chambers) to napkins, soaps, lotions, cards, even jewelry. Everyone can find their very own pièce de résistance.
Gorgeous display vignettes make browsing a visual feast. Beautifully-appointed tables draped in fine linens feature place settings of Vietri dinnerware and Juliska crystal. Baskets perched about brim with various accoutrements–handmade candles in one, another of dried lavender bundles, still another with linen and lace dainties fit for the most exquisite trousseau. Bookcases near the café display stunning coffee table books, with stacks of assorted volumes scattered throughout the store. Cross over to the baby and child area to find a collection of enchanting picture books individually selected for their artistry.
That children’s corner amuses young and old with luxury baby goods and charming handmade toys from all over the world. Le Petit Bateau collections and JellyCat plush beg to be caressed, while Little Giraffe blankets continually sell out. The precious Maileg mice peek from around corners eliciting audible squeals (the newborn mouse with it’s button pacifier defines adorable). Peer into the antique wrought iron crib overflowing with locally-designed BlaBla Babies, hand knit dolls with quirky character profiles ready for adoption.
Brides-to-be race in to show off their rings and start their personalized bridal registry, bringing engagement photos to be displayed along with a full tabletop of their selections. The heavenly scent of indulgent bath goods draws you over towards antique library shelves and a huge armoire laden with decadent products such as Lafco soaps and candles, Thymes and Mistral creams and lotions, and the Board & Batten “Farm-to-Skin” line.
Move toward the back to see the full Vietri collection as well as pewter pieces complementing a variety of tablescapes. A rack of R. Wood pottery crafted from our own Georgia clay explodes with color, while Kantha textiles curl up underneath ready to be unfurled in all their splendor. Quirky paper goods wave from a desk in the middle of the store, scattered with whimsical cards, stationary, and Susan Kolowich’s French Graffiti.
Up at the front counter, there’s the jewelry. The jewelry. A glass case glittering with French-inspired replicas of authentic antique pieces from La Vie Parisienne and splendid choices from designer Robin Haley. Trays of funky cuffs and dazzling necklaces rest on top to play a little dress-up. (“Stack all 5? Don’t mind if I do. Merci Beaucoup!”)
Kathy further praises the overall atmosphere of the store remarking that personal relationships with customers add to the flavor more than she could possibly explain. “We have exceptional customer service; I cannot stress that enough. Just exceptional, down to intricate gift wrapping. It’s sort of a girlfriend-to-girlfriend connection that elevates the store to a different level. People come in here just for a little boost to their day, and we ‘get it’, we really do!”
We get it too, Kathy. C’est Magnifique!
1100 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 325
Marietta, Georgia 30068