With every new season comes the inevitable retail shuffle in Aspen’s downtown shopping district. Shopkeepers come and go, but Heidi Semrau has kept her feet firmly planted on East Hopkins Avenue since 1997. The owner of Distractions opened her cutting-edge, contemporary women’s boutique as a dare and has since introduced labels like Libertine, Jonathan Simkhai, Greg Lauren, The Row, and Sacai to town.
But now, Semrau is ready to hand over the business she's built to another pair of stylish hands—two of them, in fact. Effective October 1, the store will close in preparation for its new owners, Meg and Armand Margjeka, to reopen the space as Etc…Aspen in November. Proprietors of the original Birmingham, Alabama–based Etc..., the couple frequently visits Aspen and has shopped at Distractions for years.
“We personally met through The Woods, jewelry designers we both carry, and our deal took shape over a glass of rosé on a beautiful afternoon this summer,” says Semrau.
Along with continuing to carry many of the designers Distractions has cultivated, Etc… will bring in additional fine jewelers, including Cathy Waterman, Moritz Glik, Jemma Wynne, Nancy Newberg, and Marla Aaron along with distinctive lines from Armand’s men’s concept store, Open Shop.
Distractions' longtime manager, Marie Herr, will remain in her position to carry on the legacy of customer service for which the store is known, from wardrobe consults and event styling to private fittings and home visits.
As for Semrau?
“I’ve had an amazing run with Distractions and have enjoyed my time getting to know both long-term loyal clients and vendors," she says. "It’s also been interesting to have a prime spot from which to watch how the entire fashion and retail worlds have changed so dramatically, both here in town and everywhere across the globe.”
Without the tireless retail hours ahead, Semrau looks forward to having more time to enjoy Aspen, where she loves to bike Castle Creek, ski Aspen Highlands, play “Bubbe” to her grandson, Julian, and take motorcycle adventures with her husband, Tim.
“It’s also time to give back, so I’m looking at some online programs in women’s rights from Stanford and legal studies from Harvard to use in pro bono work. As my kids say, ‘It’s never too late to clone Elle Woods’!”
Look for more details on the Margjekas' new store in the holiday issue of Aspen Sojourner November 17.