Sewickley entrepreneur takes her wares on the road

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 | 6:01 AM

Longtime Sewickley resident Carol Weir worked for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, then as a stay-at-home mom, before becoming an entrepreneur. She now earns a living selling at about a dozen trunk shows throughout the East Coast and Midwest regions each year.

Weir first started selling at trunk shows — retail events organized to benefit nonprofit organizations — with her former business partner, Liz Wilson, in 2013. They called their retail home decor and women’s accessory business Wilson & Weir, or W&W. After setting up a pop-up store in an empty Broad Street space that fall, customers requested that they stay permanently.

“We decided we would stay … we would try to have the store and also do shows. January of 2014 is when we were really established in the store,” Weir said.

Wilson’s retirement in early 2016 prompted Weir to refocus her efforts on doing trunk shows full-time. She has retained the W&W logo and changed the name to Weir & Weir.

The shows that Weir participates in benefit hospitals, women’s shelters and other nonprofit organizations. Each one, Weir said, might involve 25 to 65 vendors, selling home goods, jewelry, men’s and women’s clothing and food.

Although she travels to most events, Weir attends Unique Boutique, held at the Edgeworth Club, each year. Come November, she will once again join vendors from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia at the event.

“We are supporting the local businesses and artists of the tri-state area,” said Terri Tunick, who handles vendor selection for Unique Boutique.

Many of these vendors, Tunick added, make a living traveling from show to show, selling handmade items and clothing that often cannot be purchased at a traditional retail outlet.

The 19th annual Unique Boutique, benefitting Heritage Valley Health System, takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9. Proceeds from this year’s event will fund the purchase of fetal monitor carts at Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital, according to a press release.

While Heritage Valley earns proceeds from the purchase of retail space and event admission, Unique Boutique and other trunk shows offer vendors the opportunity for increased exposure.

Many mainstay vendors have a steady clientele they have built up over the years.

“Vendors all know each other, so if you buy a coat from one vendor and the person’s also looking for jewelry they can go right to the next table,” Tunick said. “For vendors it’s a win-win. It promotes their business and encourages them to work with other vendors.”

Weir travels often and has trips planned to Milwaukee, Toledo, Cleveland and Bedford, New York, before the end of the year. Shows typically last for a single weekend. A concentrated selling period allows her to spend ample time with family.

Most shows require vendors to donate 15 percent of sales to the charities involved, she said.

Weir said she hasn’t completely abandoned brick-and-mortar retail and still plans on holding pop-ups in Sewickley. Her most recent Broad Street pop-up, which she organized in collaboration with Statement Jewelry by Sue Fry and Bridget Rose Fine Stationery, ended Sept. 21.

Weir enjoys her current work, including the philanthropic aspect.

“In addition to the fun of finding things for people and the shopping retail aspect, I do really find the philanthropic piece to be satisfying,” she said. “You meet a lot of people who are very committed to their particular charity.”