fall fashion

Rochelle’s celebrates 30 years of First Coast fashion


Rochelle’s Clothing has been a St. Augustine mainstay for more than three decades – a credential that few independent clothing retailers in the historic city can boast.

Its success comes with good reason. The independently-owned boutique is operated with care and enthusiasm, and it shows in every aspect of the store: from the building that houses it to the fashion lines that it stocks in its selection of women’s apparel.

“We like having a good time in here, and when people come in and they’re not feeling that great or they’re nervous about something coming up, it’s so great that by the time they leave – whether it’s 10 minutes or two hours – they find things that make them so happy,” said owner Karen Rochelle.

When you take a look at the company’s history, the success of Rochelle’s seems meant to be, from its founders’ romantic backstory to the whimsical choice of St. Augustine as the base of operations.

Karen Rochelle founded Rochelle’s with her husband and high school sweetheart, Tom, more than 30 years ago. They began dating as young teenagers, and when they entered the work force is separate capacities, Rochelle said it simply “seemed wrong to be apart all the time.”

“We decided to start our own business,” Rochelle said. She had been working for a CPA firm when they made their choice. “We decided one day on clothing – but we had no background in clothing.”

The couple hailed from East Tennessee, and decided to open a boutique with no previous fashion retail experience after having only visited St. Augustine once.

“We’d been to St. Augustine and we’d fallen in love with it,” Rochelle said. “We were from a small town, so we knew that living here would be fabulous.”

The couple visited St. Augustine as part of a meandering road trip to Mississippi for a wedding, Rochelle said.

“We went down the coast to visit cousins in Ocala,” Rochelle said. “We came down and swung by St. Augustine one night. We always remembered what a fabulous, magical place it is.”

After renting space in the same building for 15 years, the Rochelle’s lease expired, prompting the business to purchase the location where it sits now at 104 Anastasia Blvd. in St. Augustine.

“It’s a cool place – an old sign studio with a lot of atmosphere,” said Rochelle. Unlike leased spaces that have a lot of turnover, the location had only two previous owners and maintains a “family vibe,” Rochelle said. The building, complete with a loft and many original elements, houses the boutique’s ever-changing inventory of clothing and accessories.

“Our inventory gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Rochelle.

“It’s matured somewhat, in the sense that our customer base has shifted along with us. We started with a college following, but it’s always been across the board. But in a lot of ways, (the business) hasn’t changed at all!”

Rochelle’s keeps to its college roots, though, by employing a staff of college students.

“That’s been a fun thing,” Rochelle said. “They bring a youthful edge and they always step up. We’ve had wonderful employees: hard workers, knowledgeable, smart.”

In addition to offering many options in women’s apparel, Rochelle’s hosts public and private events. The boutique offers trunk shows and parties to promote lines and seasons, as well as being available for private booking parties – usually five to 12 ladies, Rochelle said.

“We enjoy hosting people who are celebrating – a birthday or a girls’ night out,” Rochelle said. The shop includes an area for photoshoots and can provide champagne or other treats for get-togethers.

Rochelle’s is open seven days a week, Mon. and Tues. 11 to 6 p.m., Weds. through Sat., 10 to 6:30 p.m. and Sun., 11 to 5 p.m. The boutique also offers online sales at www.rochellesclothing.com. For more information or to schedule an event, call (904) 810-2208.