For 30 years, Deborah Norwood found her “happy place” in a patchouli-scented shop decorated in shabby chic décor along Hillcrest Avenue.
Once an old gas station across from Southern Methodist University, the women behind the boutique Cotton Island have cultivated a girl’s club following among Park Cities mothers and daughters.
“When I was missing my daughter, I’d buy her snicker doodles from JD’s Chippery and a top from Cotton Island,” Norwood said of care packages that she sent to her then college-age daughter at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.
“It’s what you do when you’re missing your girl,” said Norwood, a former Park Cities resident.
Three decades later, the island along Hillcrest Avenue still stands.
Located at the corner of Hillcrest and Daniel Avenue, the boutique anchors a quadplex in Snider Plaza that still houses some of the neighborhood’s longest-standing businesses such as JD’s Chippery and Mustang Donuts.
“This is just a wonderful spot in the universe. There’s something about this spot that brings people in. It’s always been that way,” said general manager Sheila Harris, who has been at the store’s helm since it opened.
The store, which marks 30 years recently, opened in 1983 under the leadership of former owner Jeff Feinstein and his wife, Patty Feinstein.
In November, Patty’s daughter, Lauren Feinstein, 26, joined the team as co-owner and works most days in the shop’s Plano location, 1900 Preston Road, Suite 258, which opened 10 years ago.
Jeff, who died in 2008, was one of the co-founders of Tootsie’s and opened Cha Cha’s three years before Cotton Island.
It was he who first foresaw what the old filling station – covered in plastic, windows broken-out – could be, Sheila said.
“He said, ‘Just imagine what would happen if we opened a store here.’ And then all of these ideas started flooding in,” Sheila said.
When Jeff died in 2008, Lauren moved to Austin. The death of the store’s visionary meant that Patty and Sheila worked harder. Last year, Lauren returned to shoulder some of the load. Since her return, she’s worked with Sheila to renovate the Plano store with fresh coats of paint and plans to soon relaunch the store’s online shopping site.
“Of course, it brought us closer together. That’s why Lauren came back – to be a part of this, which has always been her destiny,” Patty said.
And it’s the womanhood that brought Deborah back to work part-time last year.
Now, her car smells like patchouli again, she said.
“It’s a comfort zone. You’re safe here. You feel comfortable here,” Sheila said. “Retail therapy, it’s awesome.”
Dallas Observer Best Of Dallas – 2007
Best Women’s Casual Clothing Store
What do you wear when the vibe is casual but you don’t want to look like car-pool mom? When you want to have a kicky style but not seem like you’re masquerading as a 15-year-old cheerleader? At Cotton Island on the southeast corner of Snider Plaza, you can find colorful 100 percent cotton tops and skirts that not only are cool and flirty but feel that way too. Cotton breathes. As the swelter of summer’s end makes a transition to the warm days of autumn, it’s great to have clothes that don’t stick to the sternum. The shop also carries trendy handbags and Bernardo sandals, de rigueur for a stop at the country club or a weekend at the lake house. And hey, go ahead and take your teenager too. She’ll like Cotton Island’s minis, T’s and flippy skirts.
D Magazine September 2006 – Dallas Shops!
Cotton Island. This store is the favorite of SMU sorority girls. You’ll find the latest trends in denim, tees, and casual wear. Think Citizens of Humanity jeans, Michael Stars tees, Juicy Couture sweats, and Da-Nang casual dresses. 6601B Hillcrest Ave. 214-373-1085; 1900 Preston Rd., Ste. 258, Plano. 972-769-1085. www.cottonisland.com
Dallas Observer Best Of Dallas – 2003
Best Women’s Clothing Store
Cotton Island offers enough glitz, goof and glam to make up for the ferocious Snider Plaza parking. It’s a fun store and at first glance, one might think it’s all too young and flirty. The boutique is young and flirty, but it also offers a great selection of wardrobe staples such as Michael Stars shells, Mavi jeans and Baked Beads earrings. It’s one of those places where customers should try on before they write off the look as too immature. Some of the pices (mesh tops by Just in Time, for instance) look fantastic coupled with a power suit and heels, and a vintage-wash denim skirt could replace that suit skirt and liven up a sales meeting without going too Carrie Bradshaw. The shop also offers dorm-room decor, an expanse of seasonal shoes (brands such as Rocket Dog, Puma and more) and some seriously fabolous gaudy-chic jewelry Moms: Take your daughters–and we want to see both of you in the dressing room.
Texas Monthly Shops
Fun and Funky
Both locations have a decidedly shabby-chic interior, and the staff is always young, fun and super nice in that college co-ed kind of way. Pursue the racks for Juicy Couture and every style of Seven jeans.