BANGOR — Betty McCarty of Glenburn is living the dream she had when was 18 years old. Three years ago, she opened Charlotte Lorraine, a consignment shop at 15 Perkins St., just off Hammond Street in Bangor. The shop is named after McCarty’s mother, Charlotte Lorraine Curtis.
“My mother encouraged me for years to do this. I wanted to open a store right when I got out of high school,” McCarty said. But, as sometimes happens, life intervened, and her dream was put on hold while she raised a family and got some experience in a family business.
To prepare for her venture into the consignment-shop business, McCarty spent time in Virginia talking to consignment-shop owners, finding out what worked for them. She had no retail experience, but did not let that deter her. “I researched this for four years,” she said. “I talked to consignment-shop owners wherever I went, including locally.”
“I knew I didn’t want a thrift shop,” McCarty said. Instead, her shop features brand name clothing for women sizes 00 to 3X.
Customers who step through the door of Charlotte Lorraine are greeted with the scent of vanilla potpourri wafting in the air. Merchandise is artfully displayed on circular racks. One corner of the store features handbags, another holds formal wear. McCarty also sells swimwear, jewelry and shoes, “anything any woman would want,” she said. “My No. 1 seller is tops.”
But recently, after she moved the store from Suite 2 to Suite 1 of the building, tripling her sales floor space, she has added a selection of men’s wear and small pieces of furniture such as side tables and chairs, and home decor items. She said the response has been positive.
Three large windows let in lots of light that shows off McCarty’s merchandising skills to good advantage. She has adorned some of the walls with outfits, arranged in an artful way that includes handbags to coordinate. She also uses paper shopping bags, from businesses whose labels are part of her inventory, as decorative notes. McCarty said she likes the graphic designs on the bags.
Popular labels at the shop are Talbot’s, American Eagle, Chico’s, J. Crew, Croft and Barrow, Ann Taylor, LL Bean and Liz Claiborne. Handbag labels include Dooney and Burke, Coach and Vera Bradley.
“I like running this store,” McCarty said, “because it’s mine. It’s my creation, my design, something I’ve done through trial and error. I love the clothes, I love coming to work every day. It’s never boring. There’s always something to do: unpacking clothing, steaming it, organizing things.”
McCarty, one of nine children, said she always shopped resale when she was growing up. “I got my style sense from my mom,” she said.
McCarty reads fashion blogs and consignment-shop blogs to stay current with trends. “I love InStyle magazine for trendy looks,” she said. “It’s a great source of ideas.”
McCarty said the new suite the store occupies, fronting onto Perkins Street, had made the business more visible. “Having Linda’s Alterations and Dr. Records across the way have brought in business, too,” she said.
McCarty said her fashion icons include Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Di, Farrah Fawcett, and Liz Taylor.
Those wishing to bring clothing to place for sale in the shop are asked to make certain the garments are clean, are on hangers, steamed or pressed and be free of cigarette, pet or other odors. Clients receive a percentage of the price the garments are sold for. After 90 days, if the garments have not sold, the client may reclaim them, otherwise they are donated to a charitable organization.
Currently, McCarty is accepting men’s wear, home decor items and small furnishings.
For information, call Charlotte Lorraine’s at 947-2780, email Charsboutique@yahoo.com, go to charlottelorraines.com or find the shop on Facebook.