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Back Bay Casuals a True Celebration of CommUNITY

Michele Snowdon of Back Bay Clothing looks forward to meeting customers new and old at the Grand Opening of her new store on South Main Street in Wolfeboro June 9th. Serving the everyday clothing needs of men and women, the business faced tragic consequences in winter when a water pipe broke in its former location. The business community rallied to bring her to a new and larger retail space next to Downtown Grille Café.

June 9th Grand Re-Opening at Back Bay Clothing is a Celebration of CommUNITY

WOLFEBORO –  Owner Michele Snowdon glances around Back Bay Clothing’s new space at 27 South Main Street in Wolfeboro and smiles. The space is inviting with plenty of natural light, a freshly finished wood floor, two adorable fitting rooms, and racks and walls of the latest from Patagonia, G.H. Bass, Ray Ban, Lee and Hanes.

She smiles. “We’re ready,” she says. “And our Grand Opening June 9th will be a real celebration of coming through the storm.”

It’s been a full few months. First, there was the flood in her old space next to “Stay Tuned” just up the street. “A pipe broke when water froze in Mountain Tops just above my store,” she says. The beautiful original tin ceiling came down, and thousands of dollars of merchandise was ruined as gallons of water poured through the place she had poured her heart into for four years.

Back Bay Clothing was a dream years in the making, and to see it a sopping wet mess in the grayest season of the year was disheartening and possibly even devastating. Could repairs be made before the busy season? How could she possibly prepare for summer if she couldn’t even get back into the space for months? Was years of work and careful preparation all gone?

The idea for the store had been born at NAPA Auto Parts on Bay Street almost a half decade earlier. It’s a store Michele’s husband Rick owned. In a town where retail had become increasingly specialized, his customers had a tough time finding what they needed to wear to work every day, jeans and Carhartts at affordable prices. Couldn’t he just carry some at NAPA? they asked, but “Rick just didn’t have the room,” Michele says. He kept telling me I should open a store.”

With a background in retail and a degree in Business Management, Michele heard what Rick was saying but didn’t want to jump in too fast. She knew she should research her market and line up supports, so for several years, she tweaked the idea and gathered information. Finally, three and a half years ago, she took a deep breath and contacted Wentworth Economic

Development Corporation (WEDCO) to meet with one their business advisors from SCORE. He helped walk her through the formation of a business plan; she took several of the online webinars offered, and soon approached WEDCO Executive Director with a loan application.

“It was so fast,” Michele says. “People kept telling me how long it would take, but in two and a half weeks, I had my loan, and by fall 2014 she opened the only store in Wolfeboro to carry everything a man could need from Hanes to ties, socks to flannels, collared shirts and casual wear.

It wasn’t long, though, before Michele realized that although it was the men who needed the items, it was predominantly women who did the shopping, so she brought in lines for women, too: sundresses, jackets, shrugs, fit-your-figure jeans, accessories, and—new this year—a line of pajamas perfect for lake nights: cozy seersucker babydolls with warm long tops.

When you look at Michele, you know she loves her job. Impeccably but casually dressed, she exudes a comfortable confidence that spills into her merchandise. Surrounded by lovely things, she is determined for her customers to always see something new. She buys only a dozen or two dozen of any style. “I like to change it up,” she says. “Even in the off months. I don’t want people coming in and seeing the same old things every time.”

Back Bay Clothing’s transition from its old storefront to its new is one that makes Denise Roy-Palmer, Executive Director of WEDCO smile appreciatively, too. It’s a story of businesses pitching in together to support one another for the good of all. One day after the flood, when Michele was getting her morning coffee at Seven Suns, Sally Hunter of Butternuts Fine Dishes told her, “You need to go talk to Diane [Mullen from Winni Paw Station pet store.] Winni Paw was just moving from its store at 27 South Main Street to take over a new space next to Cate Park. Wouldn’t 27 South Main be perfect for Back Bay Clothing? Michele wouldn’t need to wait for repairs and could get right in to make it her own.

But what about Michele’s lease at her old shop? Michele smiles again, “Mary Beth and Tom [Bryant of Made On Earth and Stay Tuned] were so gracious. They released me from my lease right away. I think they were as excited for me as I was for the move.”

It’s a gratifying story for Back Bay Clothing and the whole town, and it’s one WEDCO wants to help repeat throughout the region. Says Denise Roy-Palmer, “The sole mission of WEDCO is to support and increase the economic vitality of our 11 towns. Sometimes that means offering training and business support. Other times it means helping grass-roots initiatives come to life. And in this case, it was giving advice and loans. I can’t tell you the pleasure I get when I see our region thrive by working together.”

The Grand Opening at Back Bay Clothing at 27 S. Main Street in Wolfeboro will be Saturday, June 9th, 4-7 pm. In addition to champagne and specials, there will be giveaways of hats and gift certificates all evening long.