Couple expands online business to Main Street in Presque Isle

3 weeks ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — When Kassidie Shaw started selling her gently used clothing online to make extra money in college, she didn’t know where it would take her.

She wound up creating an online business that grew so large she and her husband, Andrew, left their jobs to handle it full time. Just over two weeks ago, the Washburn residents opened Designer Refind at 473 Main Street in Presque Isle.

Many businesses open a storefront and then launch on the web. Doing the opposite is a different twist. In the last couple of years, Presque Isle’s Main Street has blossomed with new stores and the renovation of the Northeastland Hotel, part of the city’s efforts to draw more business and cultural activity downtown. Designer Refind is the newest addition to the growing area.

“We wanted to bring more variety to Aroostook County. There aren’t many places to buy clothes,” Andrew Shaw said. “Our goal is to make this sustainable long-term.”

The couple join numerous Mainers who have launched successful online businesses. Some sell secondhand goods, while others sell their own creations, like a blackfly ointment made by Suzanne Hiltz of Houlton. 

Kassidie Shaw’s interest in fashion grew from her college hobby, and so did her ability to round up designer clothes and accessories at low prices. She started doing live sales and auctions in 2016 from her home on the online fashion marketplace Poshmark, she said.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — May 3, 2024 — Kassidie Shaw hangs a dress on a rack at Designer Refind in Presque Isle. Shaw and her husband, Andrew, opened the store on Main Street in mid-April. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

The followers kept coming — more than 218,000 of them for her “Kassidie’s Closet” sales. It got to the point where she needed to make a decision: quit her job as a substance use counselor or become a fashion retailer. She chose retail. It was fun and the income was greater.

Meanwhile, Andrew Shaw, who was working at McCain Foods in Easton, was helping her as time allowed. But business was mushrooming, so the couple talked about options. He decided to leave the food processing company and the two went into fashion full time.

Eventually, they thought about leasing a warehouse. But as more and more local people reached out to buy their products, it made more sense to seek a storefront, the couple said.

They set up the store from their savings, because they didn’t want to start a business owing money. 

“It’s hard to buy local sometimes, because pricing is often more competitive online,” Kassidy Shaw said. “We really try to keep our prices equal for everyone. I saw the struggle daily and I don’t want people to struggle to afford clothing.”

So far the most popular items have been designer jeans and $20 dresses, and handbags have been flying off the shelves, Kassidie Shaw said. 

They’re open to suggestions from shoppers. In fact, they started carrying some brands of jeans because people asked for them.

The customers were literally waiting at the door before they opened. One day while setting up the store in mid-April, they looked up to see a crowd outside.

“We kind of had a soft opening on April 18. Everyone was trying to come in, so we figured, why not just open the doors and let them shop,” Andrew Shaw said.

Customers seem to appreciate the prices and products, Kassidie Shaw said. Though some people think the name “Refind” indicates secondhand or consignment clothing, that’s not the case. The store sells first-quality women’s apparel, from size extra small to 6X, along with shoes, jewelry and handbags. 

Designer Refind also sells some pre-owned handbags, and will soon expand their product lines with children’s and men’s clothing.  

Their only employee so far is Hannah Tucker of Mapleton, the store manager. But as the business grows, they’ll look at adding more staff, Andrew Shaw said. 

Working in the business together has not only benefited them on the retail side, but allows them to devote more time to being a family with daughters Lilly, 5, and Ivy, 3. 

Feedback has been positive and shoppers have told them they like the range of sizes. 

“Our biggest things [are] affordability and inclusive sizes,” Kassidie Shaw said. “We did have some people reach out to us who are plus-size, and they said they don’t feel ashamed to shop with us.”

The store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 to 5 on Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.