Now is the time to support independent fashion boutiques

The pandemic has shuttered thousands of businesses but despite the odds, there are many independent small boutiques that are managing to survive. They’ve developed a loyal customer base and are employing creative marketing techniques to stay viable. I admire their stamina and appreciate their importance to local communities. These shops deserve our loyal support and encouragement. Many small businesses have created online videos and helpful websites and are trying to maintain customer contact through online shopping and curbside pickup.

Very often, these specialty boutiques serve a particular market—like us—baby boomer women who want colourful and stylish fashion that flatters our body types, and at an affordable price. No crop tops, no jeans with five-inch rises, no mini-skirts, and definitely no skin-tight spandex bandage dresses with deep cleavage and lots of skin on display. We want style with flair served up with comfortable waistlines, some form of sleeves, easy to pack and travel in, and, preferably, no drycleaning required.

I’d like to share the names of five fashion boutiques that are listening to baby boomer women and share their websites with you. I think they are doing an excellent job of not only staying connected to their customer base, but in educating and helping us style our looks according to our particular tastes and needs.

Under the direction of Marlene Shepherd, the boutique carries a wide range of sizes for boomer gals. They proudly feature many top Canadian brands.

Shepherd’s Fashions: Ottawa

Shepherd’s is an Ottawa store I first heard about through Lynn Spence on Cityline television. Even though I live in Toronto and I’m not able to visit their bricks-and-mortar store, I follow them faithfully on FaceBook and their website. Shepherd’s proudly carries many Canadian brands including Lisette L from Montreal, Sympli from Vancouver and locally designed and made jewelry lines. They have a scarf collection that is unbeatable. Their website is extensive and comprehensive. It even helps you to shop by size according to your individual style personality (check out their online style personality quiz), or price range. They use store employees ranging in size from 2 to 18 to model their fashions, communicating each model’s height and size to help us ascertain fit. Their excellent weekly online fashion shows feature models with relatable body shapes to help us select our best look.

Trentmendous: Warkworth, Ontario

Trentmendous is a lovely boutique in the village of Warkworth, Ontario, about halfway between Belleville and Peterborough east of Toronto. It’s a destination worthy of a day trip as you can browse the other attractive little shops on the main street of the village when pandemic rules permit. Trentmendous carries many Canadian brands including Joseph Ribkoff, and French Dressing, as well Foxcroft, and other boomer-friendly brands including my favourite brand of shoes, FitFlop. They post regular updates of new incoming fashions and their sales are excellent and ongoing. With shoes, boots, outerwear, accessories, leisure and day wear, it’s a one-stop-shop. Check out their popular “Warkworth raincoat”. I’d love one in red. Must get on that. For local shoppers, they offer curbside pickup for those times when we’re under lockdown, but it’s more fun to go inside and browse their excellent fashion selections.

Trentmendous has a warm, homey atmosphere and they, too, feature many excellent Canadian brands. Curbside pickup and delivery are available.

Cora Couture: Toronto, Collingwood, Stratford, Ontario

Cora Couture has three locations in Ontario, Canada: Collingwood, Stratford, and Bloor West Village in Toronto. I love their slightly off-beat fashion with a distinctive arty edge. They also carry leisurewear, boots and shoes, accessories, and an amazing selection of unusual jewelry. Brands they carry include Havana Blue, an Australian line I particularly love with lots of painterly colours on natural linen. You will be unlikely to encounter someone else on the street wearing an identical outfit if you purchased something at Cora Couture. Their looks are edgy and I could spend hours browsing their racks. Cora Couture’s artisan jewelry is unlike anything I have seen at another store. Their price points may be a bit upscale, but they also have excellent end-of-season sales. A friend of mine just moved to Collingwood and I can’t wait to hit Cora’s Collingwood store for a little retail reconnaissance.

Cora Couture specializes in edgy fashions for women who are looking for something different.

Havana Blue Boutique: Melbourne, Australia

While I’ll never be anywhere remotely close to their store on the other side of the world, I adore their fashions and follow them faithfully on Facebook. Fortunately, Cora Couture (above) carries some of their merchandise so I do have limited access here in Canada. Even though we can’t get to their Melbourne boutique in person, it’s great fun browsing their online shop for artistic linens in bright colours, and asymmetrical cuts. Fans of linen and comfortable drapey cuts will love Havana Blue’s merchandise and fabulous arty jewelry. Their website and Facebook postings encourage us to try something different and step outside our safety zone once in awhile.

If you’re a linen lover like I am, you’ll love Havana Blue’s fashions. And some are available in Canada.
White-Balmer understands that boomers want style as well as function in footwear.

White-Balmer Shoes: Stratford, Ontario

My friend Margaret, who lives in Stratford (Canada) had a great experience this winter with a local shoe store in her community. Due to COVID restrictions, she wasn’t able to get out to buy new boots capable of performing well in a Canadian winter. So she called White-Balmer Shoes and explained what she was looking for. “I was looking for a specific boot with flip-grips.  When I spoke with Karina she knew exactly what I was looking for. She emailed me three choices from her inventory, then a few more emails about sizing and weight of the boots. I did a curbside pickup with the option to return if they didn’t work out.  Karina was a knowledgeable professional and followed up with me a few days later to see how I was enjoying my new boots. I then referred a friend. She chose a different boot and is very comfortable and confident with her choice.” That’s the kind of service we’re looking for.

There’s more to life than Amazon and it’s great fun to visit an independent boutique where the owner and staff are genuinely interested in making us look the best we can be. They offer the personal service and styling advice we would never get in a large department or chain store and they’re happy to help with curbside pickup, online ordering or whatever works best for each of us.

Let’s demonstrate our support for these small businesses by visiting their shops when we can or perhaps checking out their websites for online ordering. Their survival depends on us and we benefit from their attention to our tastes. Do you know of any small businesses or shops you would like to recommend to BoomerBroadcast readers? Please share details in the comments section. Merci beaucoup mes chères!

Click on these links to get ready for spring:

Full Disclosure: I receive no commission or benefit by recommending these shops. I’m just happy to share a good thing with BoomerBroadcast readers.

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[…] shows using their own people to model new inventory. I love this approach and encourage you to check out their websites. These boutiques provide a level of service unavailable in larger chain […]

2 years ago

Thank you for highlighting one of our local businesses. Robin does a “Trentmendous” job in Warkworth. Robin has a loyal and appreciative following. And all us Boomer women are grateful to all the women who make us look fantastic!! Great to meet you Lynda.

Robin English
2 years ago

Trentmendous Ladies Boutique is truly grateful to you Lynda for spotlighting us in your blog!! Your support of small independent businesses, led by women who are trying their best to navigate these difficult waters, is sincerely appreciated!! A great launch on International Women’s Day!!

Ms. Liz
Ms. Liz
2 years ago

Oh how I miss a good day out looking at fashion for “women of a certain age” and those who enjoy dressing. I have been looking at Shepherd’s online and I can’t believe I missed going into Cora Couture in Collingwood. One of my favourite shops is Peggy’s Fashions in Milton and Oakville. No real online presence I am afraid but they are on Facebook. The owners are a delight and really helpful. They do alterations as well.

2 years ago

What a great day – International Women’s Day – to release this blog! I have sent it on to Trentmendous!

Karina Bogle
2 years ago

What a great post! Thank you so much Lynda for including my store in this post! It really means the absolute world to me.

M Dickson
M Dickson
2 years ago

Very important message. Thank-you for mentioning White Balmer and Coracouture in Stratford.
I’ve shared this blog with them.