Nonprofit providing professional attire to disadvantaged women in Portland and Bangor to close

Posted Nov. 05, 2012, at 3:20 p.m.
Susan Stephenson models a dress that she will wear for 30 days, 30 ways to benefit Dress for Success.
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Susan Stephenson models a dress that she will wear for 30 days, 30 ways to benefit Dress for Success. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — A nonprofit which has supplied disadvantaged women professional attire for job interviews and other work needs in Portland for 14 years is closing its doors for good this month.

Dress for Success Maine, which has operated a boutique in Portland since 1998 and this year expanded to a second location in Bangor, is liquidating its inventory at both sites over the next few weeks.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each of the next two Fridays at the organization’s 560 Congress St. location, qualifying women can pick up free outfits for job interviews. On both days, as well as from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, members of the public can pay $25 and fill a bag with as many clothes as they can.

At the Bangor site, located at the Bangor Housing Authority at 161 Davis Road, clients and shoppers will have their last chance to acquire clothing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

Kimberly Allen, executive director of Dress for Success Maine, suggested in an email to clients and supporters that the local branch of the larger Dress for Success network was closing due to financial difficulties.

Allen urged shoppers to take advantage of the sales at both locations to “help us pay off our debts and go out out business as gracefully as possible.”

In an email to the Bangor Daily News Monday, Allen said the group hoped its expansion into Bangor would provide a financial boost.

“Unfortunately we just could not pull off the funding that we needed,” she wrote. “Our efforts to get into Bangor I think may have been too late as we were on the edge before making that decision. Just hoping that it would be enough.”

Dress for Success Maine will be closed completely after its open hours on Friday, Nov. 16, in Portland.

The recent downturn came on the heels of what was considered a successful 2011-12 in many ways for the organization. In June, Dress for Success Maine received the top award given out to affiliates of Dress for Success Worldwide, the Lublin Award, during a conference in Los Angeles in part because it showed a 78 percent increase in fundraising over the previous year.

“Over the past 14 years the hearts of board members, staff and volunteers have had one focus: to serve the women of Maine and by giving them hope in the future and the confidence to go forward through the care and respect that each woman received upon entering the Dress for Success Maine boutique,” Allen wrote in her email to clients and supporters. “We are sad because more than ever women need our help and we can only have faith that someone will be able to pick up the mission of service, even in a small way.”

BDN staff writer Ardeana Hamlin contributed to this story.

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