Boutique to surface after decades under downtown Rochester
Originally opened as Le Sac by Diane Domino in the Zumbro Hotel in 1973, Exquisite Leather has moved several times in the Med City's downtown. For many years, it has been based in the subway of the Kahler Grand Hotel.
Exquisite Leather, Luggage and Furs is a women’s boutique featuring clothing, jewelry, purses, luggage as well as leather and fur coats.
Now, owner Lisa Ihrke, Domino's daughter, is bringing the business up into the sunlight by opening an Exquisite Leather boutique on the Peace Plaza at 100 1st Ave. S.W. That's the former T. Welke & Co. space, which was the Baby Clementine storefront prior to that.
Ihrke, with general manager Lynne Riley, said she hopes to open that new street-level shop in early June.
"This spot has some of the greatest foot traffic in the town," said Ihrke of choosing the place for her second Rochester store. "And the building owner, George Psomas (owner of nearby Mac's Restaurant), has been great to work with."
Once that shop opens, Rochester will have a pair of Exquisite sites, but Ihrke won't be done until she has a trio. She also has purchased the Nordic Gypsy building at 20 Historic Third St. S.W. and said she plans to open her third Exquisite Leather store there this fall.
So why the triple play in the Med City?
"First, we love Rochester. I had a store in the Twin Cities, but we closed that and decided to focus completely on Rochester," she said. "And Rochester needs more retail."
Once everything is up and running, Irhke expects to have up to nine people working at the three stores under Riley's management.