Store’s style is ‘Definitely’ special

Nestled in the Cobblestone Village shopping center at Warner Road and McClintock, slotted incongruously between a chiropractor and a dentist, is a boutique that over the past two years has become a meeting place for neighborhood women while earning a Valley-wide reputation for its sense of style as well as its merchandise.

Make no mistake: Definitely Debra is definitely special.

On Aug. 16, Definitely Debra, 1761 E. Warner Road, Suite A-15, will celebrate its two-year anniversary.

“We’re excited. We’ve grown in the last two years. We’re starting to get customers from all over the Valley, not just our local neighbors,” said Debra Startup, the Boston-bred transplant who owns and operates the stationery-and-home décor boutique.

Startup opened Definitely Debra in 2003 after being laid off from her job at Motorola. She had no experience in retail sales, but she did have a talent that she felt would serve her well:

“Ever since I was young, I always had a little knack for entertaining. I planned my birthday party with my mother when I was eight years old,” she said.

“It came from my mother, and I think it just stuck with me.”

Startup described herself as “a corporate person” before opening Definitely Debra. “It just kind of happened. I’ve always loved to entertain. I’ve always loved paper. I’ve always loved etiquette. It just kind of snowballed.”

“I was looking for something to do after I was laid off from Motorola,” she explained. “My intention was to do home décor. Then I thought it would be kind of fun to do stationery, too. By doing stationery, the whole wedding business has taken off.”

Startup’s statement that she’s always loved paper needs no explaining to those who have visited Definitely Debra. More than half of her business is in invitations: Off-the shelf invitations. Custom invitations.

“Imprintable” invitations that the customer can take home and use her computer to print a special message.

Invitations to all sorts of celebrations beyond weddings: Bachelorette parties. New apartment parties. Wine-tasting caravans. Even a curious invitation to go bowling that says, “When was the last time? I know you think you are too cool, but I promise you’re not.”

“I just think it sets the tone for an event. If you’re having a party, it’s the first thing people see,” Startup says of the perfect invitation. She holds up a sample custom invitation.

“If you get something like this in the mail, you know it’s going to be a pretty spectacular event.”

She does all of the buying for her store, traveling three times a year “to all the major markets--Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta--in search of wonderful merchandise for her store.

“We get new stuff every day. It keeps the store fresh and new,” she said.

What Definitely Debra does not get is a lot of male shoppers, she acknowledges.

“I would say it’s a girl store. But if a man wants to buy something nice for his wife, he should stop in,” she said. “We had a male customer last week. He bought a vase for his wife.”

Maybe something in a wax seal to put that classic touch on hand-written letters?