Milford couple feeling groovy about new hippie boutique
MILFORD >> Gloria and Richard Krouch have a new 1960s, ’70s-style boutique, Bohemian High, featuring such items as tie-dye clothes; hobo bags, some with peace signs; Baja jackets, also known as “drug rugs”; tapestries; and an extensive “smoke and glass shop,” commonly referred to as a “head shop,” at 156 Bridgeport Ave.
The Krouches, married 27 years, say they are feeling the good-time vibe in the new business that opened April 20 , in Devon center — or 4/20, which refers to consuming marijuana and is a date that has been established as Weed or Marijuana Day.
Before opening the business — filled with the aroma of incense sticks for sale — the couple took a few years off from work after selling an unrelated business facilitating Medicare’s therapeutic shoe program.
They had a great time doing more of what they always liked to do: listening to music in their Milford home, going to music festivals and concerts, seeking “the vibe.”
In some ways it was quite the life, but they grew bored — Gloria’s 54 and Richard’s 55 — so after giving it a lot of thought, they decided to open a store where they could “get the vibe” all day, together, Richard Krouch said.
“What better than to make a business like this doing what we like?” he said.
At first they considered a vending business with the same type of merchandise, but of standing under a tent in all kinds of weather, Gloria Krouch said, “I may be hippie, but I don’t want to be too hippie.”
The couple has worked together, even at other people’s businesses, since soon after they met at Norwalk Community College registration decades ago, and still love one another’s company.
The “vibe” so far, is coming through, and sometimes after closing they just hang out listening to music, having a drink surrounded by the items they love.
They love it when customers walk through the door of the store and say, “This takes me back.”
“Everyone is coming in here with a good feeling and vibe,” Richard Krouch said. Customers tell stories about being at Woodstock, they recall passionate romances from years gone by, the memories sparked by familiar sights and sounds. The couple even recently had a drop-in visit from Steve Scales, percussionist from the rock group Talking Heads, who happened to be passing by.
The Krouches used the word “Bohemian” in the store name to conjure the image of the hippie era and “High” refers to the extensive water pipe, smoking accessory section in back. Some of the glass is imported, some locally crafted and prices range from $40 to $1,500. Customers must be 18 years old to enter and the Krouches card them.
In the front of the store is unique clothing, jewelry items and trinkets such as dream catchers, many of them free-trade items from India, Nepal, South America and Ten Thousand Villages. Items of local artists are also included.
Customer Kim Withers of Milford walked in on a recent afternoon and blurted, “I’m addicted to this place.” Withers, a 1970s-era woman, said she has kept dressing in that decade’s style, so it’s hard to find a store that carries items to suit her.
As Elton John’s “Rocket Man” played in the background, then a selection from Bread played, Withers perused the shelves closely for the third time this week.
“They have everything I wear that I can’t find in stores, and the owners are incredibly kind,” Withers said. “I love it here.”
The Krouches, who have three grown children, said they still love working together — and it shows.
Gloria Krouch said many businesses have failed in the location, just over the Washington Bridge that connects Stratford and Milford, so she hopes for success, with her husband’s mind for marketing, his favorite part of the business.
“This spot has had a lot of turnover, but they didn’t have a Rich. I have a Rich,” Gloria Krouch said, referring to her husband. “I want to succeed.”
Just five minutes later, as Gloria Krouch helped a customer, Richard Krouch had sweet words for his wife, as well. “This is her forte: customer service. When she’s not here, people say, ‘When’s your wife coming back?’”
Way in the back, behind the smoke-and-glass shop, they also have a psychic who works independently and has become a friend who enjoys the vibe in the store and adds to the Krouches feel-good meter, as well, Richard Krouch said.