Personally speaking – Ellie Brunning

Ellie Brunning will be opening No. 5  Boutique on March 1. The men's and women's clothing store and mercantile is located at 188 Main Street. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Ellie Brunning will be opening No. 5 Boutique on March 1. The men’s and women’s clothing store and mercantile is located at 188 Main Street. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

On March 1, the classy, funky, sophisticated and eco-friendly fashion-and-more No. 5 Boutique, owned by born-and-bred Highland gal and now New Paltz village resident Ellie Brunning, is slated for its grand opening at 188 Main Street in the Convenient Deli Plaza.

The boutique features both classic and fresh funky designs for both men and women, along with a back room with high-end recommerced clothing, accessories, fragrances, fabulously functional items and the Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn/Ellie flair for the fabulous.


A veteran schoolteacher with an expertise in early childhood education, Brunning said that the vision for this store started at an early age. “It was 1970. I was only six years old. My mother [retired Lloyd town historian Dot Gruner] bought a white van and said to her two best friends, ‘You want to get out of the kitchen and make some of your own money?’” They would go from house to house in the van, toting little Ellie with them, and either hold yard sales for people or take their good-as-new items and sell them at the Gruner home.

At the same time, Brunning had the great fortune that her father William Gruner, the oldest practicing attorney in New York State before he passed away, had the ability to take her and her siblings shopping at the downtown mall in Poughkeepsie, where she could enjoy high-end fashion and mix and match it with some of her great vintage purchases.

Where are you from originally?

Owner of No. 5 Boutique.

What makes New Paltz and Highland unique?
Highland is unique because of the rich history, such as the West Shore Railroad, and the opportunities it brought to my grandfather for one: an Italian immigrant on Little Italy Road with nine children. Today, New Paltz is unique to me in that you can open an exciting business that offers sculptured men’s shirts for $100 alongside a pair of vintage Armani white jeans for $20.

What do you like about this community?
The diversity.

What is your favorite hangout?
The Salvation Army Family Store on Half-Price Wednesday, or Skydive the Ranch in summer watching my husband under the parchute.

Tell us something we never would have guessed about you.
I can tap dance to “Anchors Aweigh.”

What keeps you here?
Memories of my Dad’s first law office over Chez Joey on Main Street in 1970.

What would you change?
The middle school. I worry for my friends that work there; it needs a little somethin’ somethin’.

Where would we find you on Sunday mornings?
8 a.m. mass once a month, or on the phone to my sister Nan in Denmark — 2 o’clock her time! J’ai Ma Yoga if I lazied out Saturday, or making a NutriBlast.

What is your favorite virtue?
Well, my friend Donna Ho once wrote to me that my patience makes me such a virtuous woman. I never forgot it. My mother is patient. I must get it from her.

What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
I’ve been a housecleaner, a home health aide, a certified developmentalist/special education teacher, girl Friday, cocktail and food waitress, drove an ice cream truck one summer, was social director at Villa Baglieri in 1980, worked retail, was a home organizer…oh, and danced the disco circuit with my now-brother-in-law Edgar, always winning second place. Fifty bucks in the ‘80s — now that was a lot of money! I guess I would like to attempt professional barrel racer, just to keep well-rounded.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here?
Gertrude Orlowsky, my neighbor and friend; Joy Bacon, author/friend; and Arthur Barry, a total gentlemen and dear friend.

What qualities do you admire most in others?
Strong work ethic, authenticity, forgiveness, sex appeal and sense of humor. Did I say sex appeal?

What is your idea of happiness?
A two-year-old letting me put her new cochlear implant device on, then saying my name.

What is your idea of misery?
Watching my sister Gail die of brain cancer in her prime in my sister Pam’s home.

What talent do you wish you had been given?
A beautiful singing voice of course. I think my church friends can attest to this!

What is your main fault?
Gee, that’s a tough one. Thinking…thinking….must be something! Okay: I talk more than I listen, and I always think people should understand me, even when I am totally unclear; and can often use inappropriate humor. You know what I mean?

For which fault do you have the most tolerance?
I am hard on myself. I should wear my son’s boxing gloves so I don’t hurt myself sometimes.

What is your favorite motto?
“What I have is enough; what I do is enough.” Oh, and “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear Saint Peter say when he greets you?
“What took you so long?”

No. 5 Boutique is located at 188 Main Street in New Paltz. The hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays). The phone number is 988-7227.