Bonded Boutique is cleverly situated in the dry cleaners near 37th and Spruce. It’s kind of like the candy strategically placed next to grocery store checkouts because it gets you when you’re bored and a little desperate. It’s brilliant.

Clothes might look nice and gleaming when they’re picked up from the dry cleaner, but when you drop them off, they’re rumpled and stained, and Bonded capitalizes on this moment of optimal retail vulnerability — anything that isn’t yours looks desirable. And the price? Money never seems to be worth so little as when you are paying $30 to dry clean a dress. Bonded Boutique has its customers cornered.

Bonded is pretty small. It has a table with tanks and gifts and a rack of nicer clothes, like dresses and coats. One black dress was form–fitted with a mesh neckline that ended in dainty cap sleeves, resulting in a more demure take on the ubiquitous bandage dress. A brown tweed coat didn’t look very warm, but it also didn’t look like everything you’ve been seeing on everyone for the past few months.

The boutique itself is a good place to grab a dress for a date party or some other glitzy event, especially if you’re short on time and determined not to match with everyone who had the same Urban Outfitters idea that you did. All the while, an armoire of jewelry and a spacious and fancy dressing room with a pretty chair and flowing drapes make you forget you’re sandwiched between Tbowl and that uniform place.

The best thing they had, though, was nylon teddy bears ($15) that unzip to reveal a useful tote. They’re a perfect impulse buy to maybe regret later. They’re so cutesy that they’re ridiculous, but they’re also sort of utilitarian, so it’s easy to talk yourself into making the purchase. If you reason that it’s a last minute birthday present for just about anyone, you’ve crafted a sound rationale.

Is this the best boutique ever? No. But a lot of the things are really cute, and it’s an effective diversion from a mundane errand. It also gets you thinking about the possibilities of two–timing storefronts. Clothes and frozen yogurt? Donuts and magazines? OK, well clearly neither of those ideas are great, but it’s a process.

Oh, and at Bonded, a gumball machine dispenses buttons for 25 cents. Kind of a rip–off, but it’s also pretty cute. Like the rest of the store.

BONDED BOUTIQUE 3724 Spruce St. (215) 382–1890 What you'll find there: Standard boutique–wear and a few cute surprises Bottom line: Nothing wrong — and even quite a bit that’s right — with a boutique that's in a dry cleaning place