Store brings style for little ones to Star City

1 year ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Business owner Carli Simon-Cleaves has brought something a little different to downtown shopping.

Simon-Cleaves noticed the lack of businesses that offer children’s clothing and decided to fill the void with her new store, Simon & Estelle.

Simon & Estelle opened in December 2022 as part of a dual-store setup. Simon-Cleaves split the startup cost of $5,000 with her friend Danielle Atcheson Peterson, who opened Ever Rhode women’s clothing. The two are continuing the shared vendor space tradition that Merchants on the Corner started in downtown Presque Isle.

“I would like to be a small shop where you get to know your customers, and they can make suggestions if they don’t see it in your store,” Simon-Cleaves said.

The city hasn’t had a children’s shop since longtime kids’ clothing business The Mad Hatter/The Rugged Bear went out of business in the Aroostook Centre Mall. Just recently, Bumble B Stockroom, which also sells children’s wear, opened at the mall. 

Simon & Estelle focuses on selling children’s clothes made from organic cotton. Simon-Cleaves obtains the products wholesale from across the country, but is open to the prospect of selling locally sourced products as well.

For instance, the store features swaddlers from Naptime Knots, owned and operated by Casey Blackstone in Fort Fairfield. Simon-Cleaves said she is open to suggestions for children’s clothing from moms of Aroostook County.

“It’s nice to have the online option for those who have little ones who can’t always come in,” Simon-Cleaves said.

Mother Casey Blackstone holding her baby Crew Blackstone as they shop for baby clothing at Simon & Estelle at 425 Main Street on Feb. 1. (Paul Bagnall | The Star-Herald)

Business has been slow, which is typical for January, coming off a busy holiday season. Both she and Peterson wanted small boutiques without large overhead costs, and sharing helps keep costs down especially during slow months, she said.

“I think it brings variety for moms to come in and grab stuff you can’t get at the big box stores,” Simon-Cleaves said.

Either she or Peterson will handle sales for both stores if the other isn’t present, which is another perk of two friends with separate businesses sharing the same space, she said.

The business markets itself through social media, Simon-Cleaves said. Shoppers can visit their online store, or have their children’s clothes delivered to them if they are within 25 miles.

The store sells items for babies and children up to 10 years old, including rompers, jumpers, baby onesies, socks, sweaters and swaddles.

The store will hold its grand opening on Feb. 18 with a ribbon cutting by the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce, which Simon-Cleaves recently joined.

Peterson was not immediately available.