K imberly Pedrick remembers traveling to New Haven from Monroe, CT, as a seven-year-old to try the pizza at Pepe’s on Wooster Street. Other than that experience, the Elm City was just something her family sometimes passed on I-95.
An online listing in 2005, when Pedrick was living in Boston, changed that situation considerably.
The notice stated that Endleman Gallery, a clothing store in New Haven, was up for sale. Pedrick went to check out the prime Chapel Street storefront and became immediately enamored with the area. Love at first sight? Not exactly, if you’re counting those childhood days.
But here’s to new beginnings. Pedrick purchased the store and renamed it idiom, with a decidedly lowercase i. (She chose “idiom” for its less common meaning, the third definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which hangs on a wall in her office: “a style or form of artistic expression that is characteristic of an individual, a period or movement, or a medium or instrument.”)
The shop has been serving New Haven’s female style hunters ever since with a careful mix of fine clothing, artisan jewelry and beauty products. Clothing lines for sale there include Eileen Fisher, Velvet by Graham and Spencer and Downeast Basics. There’s also an entire room of handcrafted jewelry, which Pedrick calls the “jewelry box.”
If it all seems very meant-to-be, well, even fate proceeds stepwise. Pedrick paid her dues in major retail shops in Boston. She completed a management training course at Lord & Taylor and went on to manage various departments there. Her experience eventually landed her in the jewelry department at Neiman Marcus. After seven years working for other people at major retailers, “I wanted to do my own thing,” she says.
So that’s what she’s been doing at idiom for the past eight years. That said, Pedrick’s approach to doing her own thing is, paradoxically, very community-minded. She joined the Junior League—a women’s organization where she later served a term as president—which “provides leadership, volunteer training and service opportunities to its members.” She volunteers at New Haven Reads and organized a fashion show for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s “New Haven’s Finest” fundraiser in June.
Most days, though, you’ll find her at idiom helping or chatting with customers, who she says often “pop in and catch up” while browsing items like the Tokyo Milk bath products, including their “Let Them Eat Cake” or “Gin and Rosewater” candles ($12) and perfume ($30), or perhaps the colorful Scout tote bags, many affordably priced from $30-$40. Lately, she says, plenty of customers are walking out with Karina dresses (about $150), designed in Brooklyn, NY, and appreciated for being flattering to a wide range of figures. Pedrick’s employees, Jane Schorr and Nicky Burman, are also often there to help customers in finding that perfect outfit.
In the adjoining room at idiom—that “jewelry box”—you’ll find a wide range of adornments, from small hoop earrings to ornate necklaces. Pedrick points out the delicate jewelry made by Catherine Weitzman, a Hawaiian crafter whose work retains that locale’s exoticism. One of Weitzman’s necklaces, with a pendant made to look like coral, is particularly memorable.
Pedrick says she caters to a mostly 30-and-up crowd but attracts women of all ages, including younger shoppers. “We can have a grandmother, her daughter, and her daughter’s daughter come in and all three of them can find something” appealing, she says. Yankee Magazine saw the appeal, naming idiom its “Best Clothing and Accessories Boutique” in Connecticut last year.
It probably has something to do with the sales approach at idiom. “The most important thing is that someone feels good in the clothes that they have on,” Pedrick says. “If someone walks out of the fitting room with a smile, then you know.”
1014 Chapel Street, New Haven (map)
Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm
Written by Cara McDonough. Photographed by Uma Ramiah.