Erma James Boutique Puts Relationship Back in the Retail Experience

Erma James Boutique is located in Rea Farms.

When thirteen-year-old Erma started working in a small town department store in Eastern North Carolina, she probably never imagined that it would turn into her lifelong career.  Or that years later, the impact and influence she had on her community would inspire her granddaughter to replicate that experience hundreds of miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Erma James Boutique is owned by Allyson Elliott and Wendy Parks.  They designed the women’s clothing boutique to reflect the work ethic and relational spirit of Allyson’s grandmother, Erma, and her jack-of-all-trades uncle, James.

Reflecting on her family history, Allyson said, “What we feel like will set us apart is the intent to go back to that old school customer service that comes with a relationship.” Erma James Boutique will look to recreate the days where hard work and ingenuity was valued, and customers were friends and neighbors- remembering when customer service was king.

Erma James Boutique is located in Rea Farms.

Individualized Customer Service

Erma James boutique is driven by instilling confidence in women and teen girls by embracing who they are as an individual.  This is their mission.

Allyson and Wendy refer to their customers as “darlings”- precious women they want to get to know on an individual basis. “Our goal is to create the old-school dress-shop customer service mentality of establishing a relationship with our darlings,” Allyson explained. Knowing their customer’s styles as individuals helps the Erma James staff style them for special events or seasons.

But Erma James boutique not only assists with clothing selection.  They learn the personal preferences of their customers so they can make recommendations on other items.  At Erma James, customers get help finding unique gifts for daughters, mothers, and friends.

When customers shop at Erma James, Allyson and Wendy will strive to create an atmosphere where it “feels like you are shopping with a friend when you come in.”

Allyson and Wendy refer to their customers as “darlings”- precious women they want to get to know on an individual basis.

Well Rounded Offerings

Erma James intentionally selects items that are at an affordable price point.  Most things are under $120.  And the variety ranges from leisure attire to an evening out on the town. 

With the boutique being located just a few hundred feet from Lifetime Athletic and around the corner from a dance studio, Allyson and Wendy offer things like leggings, sports bras, tee shirts, tank tops, and comfortable shirts to wear in and out of the gym.

For casual days they carry a creative line of graphic tee shirts with cute sayings, as well as sweaters and denim. More formal items include clothes for mornings at church or nights on the town.

“We like to consider ourselves well rounded in what we offer to the young professional,” Allyson said, adding that they are really excited to also offer a tween line.  This selection is perfect for girls that have outgrown Justice but don’t quite fit into the women’s styles. “We take pride in offering clothes that are dress code appropriate for school, comfortable, and still stylish.”

Erma James also offers a variety of accessories, including earrings, purses, clutches, bracelets, and novelty bags. Gift items include a selection of wine glasses that celebrate the Queen City, as well as Brumate brand insulating products.  The ladies chose Brumate because not only does it offer ways to keep chilled wine, water, or hot coffee the right temperature for twenty-four hours, the line comes in exciting colors and finishes and includes its own funnel to cut down on spills.

Locally Owned

Shopping at Erma James gives the satisfaction of supporting a small local business.  Allyson and Wendy are both working moms that live in Waxhaw. Opening the boutique in Rea Farms allowed them to serve the community they live in, just as the original Erma and James served their neighbors.

Allyson, a Charlotte native and Mom, has 20 years experience operating dance studios in the area. Being involved in young girls’ lives inspires her to want to open a boutique that will help mentor them, and women of all ages, to develop their confidence and individuality.

And Wendy, from upstate New York, brings over twenty-five years of visual merchandising and retail management experience to the business.  Having lived in areas all over the country, being a mother herself, and having many friendships with women of all walks, she is knowledgeable and passionate about what the customer wants.

Erma James Boutique can be found on Facebook as Erma James Boutique and Instagram as @shopermajames. For questions, call or text 704-777-5989 or use Facebook messenger.

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Annie Beth Donahue lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina with her husband Brad, and four children. She is a professional writer for both the web and print, and she can be found at

Annie Beth also has a bachelor's degree in music therapy from Queens University of Charlotte, and has either been working with or parenting children with special needs for the past 18 years. She is a children's book author and the founder and president of Signposts Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves families that have children with chronic health problems or disabilities. In her non-working time, she homeschools and oversees the children's care of their small menagerie made up of chickens, two donkeys, a dog, a cat, and a snake.