Lakewood OH

Chic boutique offers opportunity to shop for a cause

By Sue Botos

Rocky River

When Jody Moderelli lost her two-year battle with pancreatic cancer in October at age 54, her sister Debbie Simone knew she had to do something to keep Jody’s legacy alive.

Moderelli, a popular biochemistry professor at Hiram College, had been researching, in collaboration Akron General Medical Center, the early detection of kidney cancer, which usually exhibits no symptoms in its primary stages and generally does not respond well to therapy.

“Her students loved her. She would work 90-hour weeks,” Simone recalled.

Simone knew there was more work to be done in the study of the disease that took her sister’s life.

Ritzy Chic owner Debbie Simone helps customer Diane Keene select a ring. (West Life photo by Sue Botos)

Moderelli beat breast cancer 13 years ago, so Simone also understood that the needs of a survivor don’t stop after treatment ends.

With this in mind, Simone, who had owned an antiques mall in Willoughby for 12 years, took a look at her inventory of vintage jewelry, hats and other items. Since she had closed her business in 2005, she had been selling items online and for various fundraisers. But now she felt it was time to open a shop that not only offered a unique selection, but supported cancer survivors.

So, The Ritzy Chic was born.

“Some fundraisers ask for money. I have the stuff to turn into cash,” said Simone, who was recently helping customer Diane Keene select a piece of jewelry. Keene remarked that she was “just walking down the street” when she spotted the shop, a former AT&T location, nestled between two flooring stores on the north side of Center Ridge Road, just west of Wagar Road.

A mannequin, this day decked out in a 1920s-style cloche hat and fur-collared coat, beckoned shoppers into the small store, stocked full of not only Simone’s vintage items, but “nearly new” clothing, shoes and other accessories. Simone, in fact, also models her wares.

“I’m like Minnie Pearl, wearing things with price tags,” she said.

Simone explained that when someone brings items to the store to be sold on consignment, they can specify that 100 percent of what they would be paid go to a charity of their choice. “We encourage people to do their own fundraisers,” she stated, adding that her customers not only make unique purchases, but support worthy causes. She added that 15 percent of the store’s portion of each purchase goes to support services for cancer survivors. Her online site,, donates 100 percent of its proceeds to “Love My Sister,” a recovery fund for cancer survivors.

“A lot of people want to help someone, they just don’t know how to do it,” she stated.

While she prefers to take consignment items on Thursdays, Simone said she will accept merchandise during store hours: Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Because she has such a wide selection of vintage inventory, especially jewelry, Simone does not take these items on consignment. She said she welcomes clothing, provided that it is no older than two years, and is in “nearly new” condition. Since The Ritzy Chic opened about two weeks ago, Simone stated that clothes have been a best-seller.

Simone said that shoppers looking for an even larger range of unique holiday gifts should check out the “Love My Sister” benefit antiques and collectibles flea market, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Dec. 16-18, in the Dak’s Automotive building, 7650 Tyler Blvd., Unit F, in Mentor. All of the proceeds will go to the Jody Moderelli Hiram Scholarship Fund. Recalling her sister’s research project, Simone remarked, “Her dream will be carried on by the scholarship winner.”




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