Paula Purcell, at top center, owns the Paula James shop 365 Miller Avenue.

Two years ago, Mill Valley resident Paula Purcell dove headlong into opening the Paula James clothing, art and accessories retail shop at 365 Miller Avenue, the space formerly occupied by Anne Taylor’s Sienna Rose store.

In doing so, Purcell hoped to build a deeper connection to her community, despite the fact that her career as an asset manager for TDA Investment in San Mateo often had her out of town for days on end. She also hoped to showcase her creative instincts and her “fun, quirky side,” with a retail shop that mixed an eclectic taste for art and moderately priced clothing and accessories all while joined by her friend, local artist and jewelry maker Alison Brown.

Done and done.

“Those two things were my inspiration – besides the fact that I love clothes – to be creative and to feel a part of the community,” says Purcell, who lives in Blithedale Canyon. And although it didn’t work out long-term, “I was able to feel like I was part of the community and made such great friends and was able to share my creativity and that was really rewarding to me.”

Despite a rewarding personal and creative journey, Purcell is closing her Paula James shop, as the downward pressures on traditional retail amidst the COVID-19 crisis proved too much.  

“I’m taking away some great memories, and the knowledge that we created something special,” Purcell says. “It really evolved into something special and the dynamic between the Allison and I created that experience. People have been coming in and crying because we are closing.”

Paula James will be offering 50 percent on most of the inventory starting next week and through the end of the month, when the shop will close. 

​Paula James is at 365 Miller Ave. until the end of August

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